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Caparica Primavera Surf Fest pits youth against experience

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Francisco Almeida in action during the Caparica Primavera Surf Fest on Monday. Picture: WSL

The Caparica Primavera Surf Fest launched today in good three-to-four foot waves to run a total of 52 heats of both the men’s QS and Junior competitions. Surfers took on the rippable rights of Caparica on two different banks for most of the day.

The festival brings together surfers from different generations and is a unique occasion for the juniors to enter a QS as well, gauging their performance level against older, stronger, more experienced competitors.

The juniors had a first taste of the Qualifying Series world, surfing up to four heats in a day. Their endurance was also tested as some of the surfers fought the cold water and hot sun all-day in between heats.

It was the ideal conditions to catch up with the four semi finalists of the Junior Pro Espinho, which finished yesterday a few hours up the coast near Oporto.

Justin Becret (FRA) had no trouble adapting to the new spot and new crowd coming from Espinho, winning both his heats in the QS today, and building momentum to post an impressive 13.77 win over long-time competitors Roberto D’Amico (ITA) and Julen Egiguren (EUK).

“It’s definitely been a busy week and we’re starting another, but I’m trying my best to rest in between heats and we train a lot so the fatigue isn’t too bad,” Becret said. “I really have no pressure in the QS because my main focus is still on the juniors for now, so I surf maybe a little more freely and apparently it works out. I’m stoked about the waves, this peak was great with a really good right.”

Lenni Jensen (DEU) had a slightly closer affair in his Round Two matchup, but eventually placed second to Edouard Delpero (FRA) and kept his QS run alive. The German-born surfer, who learnt to surf and was raised in the Canary Islands, burst on the map with his equal third in Espinho yesterday and will have the difficult task to now surf with a target on his back, as a potential qualifier for the World Juniors under the European banner.

“I’m just trying to hold on to that good rhythm I have coming in from Espinho,” Jensen said. “I can’t believe how good the waves are, so I’m just trying to be patient and wait for the bombs. I’ve made a couple of mistakes in that last heat but I’m learning, I’m trying to surf smart when I have the priority. Everyone here just wants to win their heat, so Juniors or QS I don’t really see a difference in our approach.”

The reigning European Junior champion Kauli Vaast (PYF) just made the final in Espinho and started his season with a runner-up, exactly the same way he finished last season in Sopela to claim his first regional title.

His heat today was an easier one with three surfers under-18, but he was still judged on the same scale as everyone else. The Tahitian brought his under-the-lip backside vertical attack in the punchy rights and posted two 7+ waves, and finally an 8.07 to take an easy win and ticket into Round Three.

“It was hard last week just coming from Tahiti and adapting to the really cold water and we had hard waves too,” Vaast said. “But I’m super happy with that second place in Espinho and happy to start with a win here. I’ve had to wait around all day cause I was in the very last heat so I tried to stay focused and only had a little free surf in the morning to warm up to the conditions today.”

Conditions became extremely difficult for the judges late this afternoon as the infamous Portuguese glare made it virtually impossible to recognize colors in the lineup, even forcing a re-surf of one heat of the juniors event.

Unfortunately Mathis Crozon (FRA), the winner in Espinho yesterday, was scheduled to surf in Heat 5 when the call was made to hold off and reschedule that heat for tomorrow morning. Crozon will feel the pressure as most his opponents in the current European Junior title race opened their campaign with strong performances today.

Surfers and organizers will reconvene at 7:30AM Tuesday for an early start of the QS in expected great conditions again.

The Caparica Primavera Surf Fest is scheduled from March 26-31, 2018 at Praia do Paraiso, Costa da Caparica – Portugal.