An early start this morning saw the riders yet to qualify for the main event heading to the beach at 8am to catch the predicted early morning winds. The first challenge however was to swerving a dramatic lightning storm during set up. A mandatory safety pause saw the winds fill in dramatically cross onshore and then fade out into a lighter cross-offshore direction that perked up the swell. The last two trials sparked into life with riders still being scored on 100% wave riding performance prior to the main event which would combine wave and strapless freestyle.
The wind was noticeably stronger and more cross-off than yesterday’s first two trials heats. The waves were a touch sporadic but the sets were still coming through and first up Nicola Abadijev (BUL) and Pedro Matos (BRA) linked stylish turns on the better waves that pushed through and their talent was plain to see.
Photo: Ydwer van der Heide
Nicola Abadijev / PHOTO: Ydwer van der Heide
Heat four concluded the trials. By then the wind had switched a little more offshore but had increased in strength. D’jo Silva (CV) and Evan Netsch (USA) sought out the best waves of the heat. D’jo’s powerful style, honed at Ponta Preta in Cape Verde contrasted with Evan’s fluidity, but this heat was about working hard to grind out a result from the intermittently usable faces.
PHOTO: Ydwer van der Heide
TRIALS TOP ELEVEN (Advancing to main event):
1 Keahi de Aboitiz (AUS) Cabrinha / NP
2 Filippe Ferreira (BRA) F-One
3 D’jo Silva (CV) F-One
4 Evan Netsch (USA) Cabrinha / NP
5 James Carew (AUS) North
6 Nicolla Abadjiev (BUL) RRD
7 Jhon Palacios (SPN) North
8 Jeremy Lentz (FRA) F-One
9 Pedro Matos (BRA) North
10 Borja Rodiguez (SPN) F-One
11 Pablo Amores (SPN) Slingshot
Round one of the main event consisted of three man heats and brought with it a change in location as the competition area was moved 300 metres downwind to a section of beach where the waves were a little cleaner.
Ralph Boelen’s clean front roll / PHOTO: Ydwer van der Heide
In heat one one Ralph Boelen (FRA) put together a very complete display of riding that synced perfectly with the rule book that dictated variety, with kite loop board-offs and shuvits as well as some solid lip smacks in the surf. Filippe Ferreira (BRA) has impressed so much with his pure surfing over the last two light wind days and displayed his trademark aggressive style in the waves, but he wasn’t quite able to match Boelen’s freestyle ability after the Frenchman has solidly improved over the events this season.
Jan Marcos Riveras / PHOTO: Ydwer van der Heide
In heat two, Jan Marcos Riveras (DR) put together an impressive array of strapless freestyle tricks, including board-off kite loops and toe-side air reverses as well as some very fluid wave riding. The riders who have competed in each event this season were quickly showing their class and making the most of the tricky conditions.
Jan Marcos shredding / PHOTO: Ydwer van der Heide
Bulgarian Nicola Abadijev is the youngest rider in the competiton at just 16, but exhibited mature control on the wave and managed to land some more basic freestyle tricks, however Jan Marcos’ experience was hard for him to contend with and the Bulgarian will get a second chance in the dingle round two.
The anticipation for Mitu and Keahi to get on the water grew as their heat repeatedly got cancelled / PHOTO: Ydwer van der Heide
A frustrating spell of fickle wind brought heat three to be cancelled and then restarted on several occasions. The wind shifted further offshore and after the decision was made to move the competition area back upwind to its original position, the heat was a mouthwatering prospect, including two heavy hitters: Keahi de Aboitiz and Mitu Monteiro set amongst it.
Keahi / PHOTO: Ydwer van der Heide
Mitu and Keahi were quite equally matched in the freestyle stakes and Keahi’s snappy turns off-the-lip caught the judges’ attention, but Mitu’s inimitable style combined with his apparent ease in offshore conditions came to the fore as he put together an altogether more polished performance.
Mitu / PHOTO: Ydwer van der Heide
From there the heat numbers tumbled and it was clear that the riders with experience in variable offshore winds would have the upper hand. As planned the main event heats were being judged at 50% on wave riding performance and 50% freestyle which allowed the riders with a more advanced strapless freestyle level to really shine.
Airton / PHOTO: Ydwer van der Heide
Left brooding after his shocking early exit in Mauritius, Airton Cozzolino was nothing short of relentless in his heat and put together what was arguably the most impressive freestyle performance of the day with a powered front roll and tic-tac shuvits that featured among a huge stack of tricks. His arsenal is vast and in between he managed to milk the waves for all they’re worth; a perfect reflection of the vision for this tour.
Matchu / PHOTO: Ydwer van der Heide
Tour leader Matchu Lopes (CV) rode well, as expected, dropping some nice floaty melon grab back rolls, a front roll and some seriously smooth air reverses in amongst the waves. He was also the only rider to combine frontside and backside wave riding, throwing himself boldly into turns, kicking up buckets in the process.
Matchu / PHOTO: Ydwer van der Heide
Fellow Cape Verdean Djo Silva looked equally at home in today’s challenging conditions and went into every turn at breakneck speed before driving turns off the lip – though he finds himself in round two, coming off worst to Paulino Perreira (POR) who was on fire with committed wave riding with a typically energised freestyle element to his riding. Excited to be riding his first frontside waves of the tour, his freestyle exhibits included a couple of beautiful powered front rolls which were the best of the day.
James Carew / PHOTO: Ydwer van der Heide
Aussie powerhouse 17-year-old James Carew from Melbourne had one of the best wave selections of the day and put together what was arguably the best wave riding heat of round one with a muscular style that allowed him to drive hard into turns without being dragged over the back of the wave by the offshore winds.
The wind subsided at around 7pm and the decision was made to end the day’s competition there with round one complete and the start of round two lined up for tomorrow where the lower heat finishers in round one will get one more chance to stay in the competition.
Full round one list