The Azores Islands Pro suffered an unexpected blow today as the event resumed with excellent, clean conditions and a building swell, only to be halted in the middle of the day’s sixth heat by gale-force winds which compromised the event’s infrastructures.
The first two heats of the day were dominated by U.S.A and New Zealand with Evan Geiselman and Billy Stairmand advancing in the first, then Te Kehukehu Butler, Cole Houshmand in the second.
Luel Felipe scored the day’s biggest heat with an impressive 15.76 total, courtesy of an excellent 8.93 for three massive backhand gauges on a meaty left.
“I’m having so much fun here every day in Azores with my friends,” Felipe said. “With two decent scores I was able to just sit and wait for a good one, and it came so I was stoked. Waves are super fun and similar to what I have at home so I feel blessed to be back here competing and making heats.”
Former Championship Tour surfers Miguel Pupo and Michael February took out the final heat of Round 2. Power surfers Tristan Guilbaud and Jackson Baker advanced through the opening heat of Round 3 and that when things went awry.
Heat 2 featured Beyrick De Vries, Mihimana Braye, O’Neill Massin and Victor Bernardo and started off as normal. But halfway through, crazy gusts of wind came up and sent tents flying everywhere, breaking various pieces of the event structure and putting the safety of the surfers and public at risk.
The decision was made to put the heat on hold for roughly 45 minutes while conditions settled down. Surfers went out again for the remaining 11 minutes of their heat, re-starting in the exact conditions of scores and priority as when it was called off.
After updating his fans on Instagram, De Vries paddled back out with the lead and made sure to build on his existing scores to keep the pole position. The South African sent a good forehand rotation on a right and earned a 7.17 to secure the heat win.
“It is definitely super strange to come in midway through with your heart and brain rushing,” De Vries explained. “I was on land trying to keep positive and joking but I let my energy levels go down as I couldn’t stay that amped for an hour and a half. I believe I made history by posting an instagram story mid heat too so that’s another win for me. But more seriously the break also allowed me to change boards as that wind came up stronger, the epoxy was no longer the best choice so I changed for a PU and it worked out with that little air.”