The  Pro Santa Cruz 2018 pres. by Oakley launched today in wind-affected two-to-four foot surf at praia da fisica, to complete the first two rounds of competition on the opening day of the event’s waiting period.

Shane Sykes (ZAF), posted the day’s highest combined heat total, flirting with the excellent range on a 7.43 while most other competitors settled for average numbers. The South African in his third year competing on the Qualifying Series, is building momentum and steadily improving to hopefully crack the Top 100 by year’s end.

“I like the waves here, they have a lot of power and I can use a normal board instead of a real small-wave board which is great,” Sykes said. “I’ve been to Portugal a few times and I always love coming back here, people are super nice and we always find fun waves. My goal for this season is to get a solid ranking for the QS6,000 next year so I can concentrate on those and not do as many smaller events.”

Tristan Guilbaud (FRA), entered late and found an alternate spot when a competitor dropped out last minute, starting to compete in the opening Round despite his current excellent ranking. The Frenchman is building a solid reputation for himself in 2018 with a renewed self-confidence and the results are showing. Today in tricky conditions he navigated two heats with serenity and posted two wins for a spot into Round Three.

“The biggest change in my approach has been to go from building frustration after losses to actually learning from those and fixing them in the next heats,” Guilbaud reflected. “I learnt that from traveling with Jorgann (Couzinet) last season and surfing a lot with him. He had such a good season last year and it was inspiring to see it.”

Jose Gundesen (ARG) comes off a great equal third place result in Zarautz a few weeks back and continued to show big potential today in Santa Cruz. The Argentinian up-and-comer posted one of the day’s strongest performances and made his way into Round Three where he’ll meet up again with some of the competition faced in the Basque Country earlier this month.

“I’m really tired cause the conditions were really hard but I’m happy to make this heat with such good surfers,” Gundesen said. “This is a beautiful place and I’m stoked to be in Portugal, it’s such a good country. I’m staying further down the coast so I’m seeing plenty of different things and I like it a lot. ”

The very last heat of today saw Portugal’s favorite surfer, Tiago Pires, suffer an early exit in Santa Cruz.