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Surfing: Pro Casablanca gets underway in perfect conditions

WSL - Mahina Maeda in Morocco
Mahina Maeda in action in the Pro Casablanca on Monday. Picture: WSL.

The men and women’s Pro Casablanca launched today in good three-to-five foot surf and light winds with the opening rounds of both the men and women’s events taking on fun rights at high tide this morning and solid lefts later this afternoon.

The recent semi-finalist in Galicia Mahina Maeda (JPN) discovered the Moroccan waters for the first time and adapted perfectly to post a convincing first heat win over French up-and-comers Juliette Lacome and Neis Lartigue as well as local surfer Lilias Tebbai (MAR). Currently ranked 17th on the Qualifying Series, her result in Casablanca won’t likely be counting in her qualifying effort but the Japanese surfer is out to keep her good momentum going into the back half of the season.

“I had a pretty tough morning session but then I went out for my heat and had a lot of fun,” Maeda said.

“I’ve been struggling with sponsors this year so I would definitely love to take out this event and it would make my life a bit easier financially. I made the switch to represent Japan this year too, both my parents are Japanese, and I really want to do well for the people there.”

Garazi Sanchez-Ortun (EUK) claimed the first excellent score with an 8 point ride and a 6 as a backup for her forehand attack of the long rights. A former quarter finalist in Morocco, the Basque surfer appreciated the clean conditions and an easy-to-read lineup of various sections to work with.

“I noticed the waves lacked a bit of power this morning so I made sure to control my turns and not push too hard,” Sanchez-Ortun said.

“There were plenty of waves and everyone got their opportunities so it was a good heat. I like to have a strategy going into a heat and last year it wasn’t as easy with bigger swell and not a defined peak.”

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The Japanese crew put on a strong performance with four of five surfers advancing into Round Two. Besides Maeda, sisters Emily and Julie Nishimoto took second places, and Minami Nonaka stole the show with one of the day’s biggest performance of the women’s division. The 17 year-old natural footer was flying through the flat sections and hit the closeout lips strong to impress the judges panel with her mature surfing.

“It was really fun out there,” Nonaka said.

“The rights are even better than they look from outside and I love surfing on my forehand so that was perfect for me. I’m only starting on the QS and we have a lot of national events at the same time so I didn’t have five results yet and decided to come compete here.”

In the last heat of the round, Tessa Thyssen (FRA) raised the bar even higher with combinations of multiple backhand turns on the rights to post two massive numbers for a 15.84 total into Round Two.

The men’s event followed and started in similar fashion with Alex Ribeiro (BRA) absolutely dominating the first heat, with two excellent scores and a 16.50 heat total. The former Championship Tour surfer shredded the rights to pieces on his first visit to Casablanca.

“Sets came all the time and the waves looked exactly like my home break so I felt right at home out there,” Ribeiro said.

“I’m staying with Deivid (Silva) and he’s the one who motivated me to come, he’s won twice here so obviously he loves the place, but he also said how consistent it is, that there’s always good waves. I’m stoked to be here and I hope I can make a few more heats.”

Timothee Bisso (FRA) had a similar great start but later around low tide when the lefts started working better. But the main fact in his Heat 4 was the last minute move of local surfer Redouane Regragui (MAR) who launched and landed a perfectly executed little forehand rotation for a 5.40 to advance in second.

Santiago Muniz (ARG) approached perfection with two fully committed backhand turns on one of the biggest sets all day and took maximum risks for the near maximum reward, belting a 9.50 (out of 10) for his effort. With his 8.17 backup and a 17.67 total, the Argentinian was well above the field on Day 1.

“Waves were so good all day with some solid sets and I just tried to do my thing,” Muniz said. “We have a lot of waves like this in Brazil, that’s maybe why we’re good in these conditions. Deivid’s won it twice and I’d love to do well here myself, we have a great group of friends here and it’s going to be fun!”

Surfers will be back at 8:45am Wednesday for a men’s only second day of competition and potentially two rounds of the event.

The Pro Casablanca is scheduled to run from September 4-9, 2018 at Anfaplace Shopping Center, Casablanca – Morocco.

PRO CASABLANCA MEN’S ROUND 2 MATCHUPS:

Heat 1: Deivid Silva (BRA), Samson Coulter (AUS), Colin Doyez (FRA), Alex Ribeiro (BRA)
Heat 2: Jared Hickel (AUS), Vitor Mendes (BRA), Yassine Ramdani (MAR), Kyllian Guerin (FRA)
Heat 3: Jordan Lawler (AUS), Joe Van Dijk (AUS), Pablo Montero (ESP), Herbert Moreno (BRA)
Heat 4: Miguel Blanco (PRT), Jake Elkington (ZAF), Ignacio Guisasola (ESP), Amando Lins (BRA)
Heat 5: Bino Lopes (BRA), Roberto Araki (CHL), Ben Coffey (USA), Charly Quivront (FRA)
Heat 6: Pedro Neves (BRA), Cole Houshmand (USA), Francisco Carrasco (PRT), Alex Bauduin (CNY)
Heat 7: Adin Masencamp (ZAF), Paul Cesar Distinguin (FRA), Eduardo Fernandes (PRT), Timothee Bisso (FRA)
Heat 8: Dylan Lightfoot (ZAF) Luis Diaz (CNY), Jaymes Triglone (AUS), Redouane Regragui (MAR)
Heat 9: Weslley Dantas (BRA), Pedro Henrique (PRT), Max Kearney (AUS), Gatien Delahaye (FRA)
Heat 10: Ruben Vitoria (EUK), Tristan Guilbaud (FRA), Aboubakar Bouaouda (MAR), Theo Julitte (FRA)
Heat 11: Lucas Silveira (BRA), Theo Fresia (BRA), Eduardo Motta (BRA), Kairi Noro (JPN)
Heat 12: Nelson Cloarec (FRA), Morgan Cibilic (AUS), Dylan Moffat (AUS), Ethan Fletcher (ZAF)
Heat 13: Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR), Thomas Cervi (AUS), Leo Paul Etienne (FRA), Santiago Muniz (ARG)
Heat 14: Leandro Usuna (ARG), Jose Gundesen (ARG), Selyann Zouhir (MAR), Soufiane Charoub (MAR)
Heat 15: Rafael Teixeira (BRA), Vitor Ferreira (BRA), Enzo Cavallini (FRA), Justin Becret (FRA)
Heat 16: Andy Criere (ESP), Facundo Arreyes (ARG), Jolan Bonelli (REU), Pedro Coelho (PRT)

PRO CASABLANCA MEN’S ROUND 1 RESULTS:

Heat 1: Alex Ribeiro (BRA) 16.50, Kyllian Guerin (FRA) 11.50, Thomas Debierre (FRA) 9.80, Yassine Jmiji (MAR) 0.00
Heat 2: Herbert Moreno (BRA) 11.86, Amando Lins (BRA) 11.27, Kaspar Hamminga (NLD) 8.54, Othmane Choufani (MAR) 7.50
Heat 3: Charly Quivront (FRA) 11.70, Alex Bauduin (CNY) 10.73, Matteo Calatri (ITA) 7.27, Ghali Sefraoui (MAR) 4.44
Heat 4: Timothee Bisso (FRA) 15.50, Redouane Regragui (MAR) 9.37, Ben Penny (AUS) 8.57, Nanook Ballerin (FRA) 7.04
Heat 5: Gatien Delahaye (FRA) 11.50, Theo Julitte (FRA) 10.90, Teva Bouchgua (FRA) 6.76, Camille Maurisset (MAR) 6.00
Heat 6: Kairi Noro (JPN) 10.90, Ethan Fletcher (ZAF) 8.67, Chadi Lahrioui (MAR) 8.30, Wahala Aymen (MAR) 4.47
Heat 7: Santiago Muniz (ARG) 17.67, Soufiane Charoub (MAR) 6.97, Soulaimane Boujnane (MAR) 4.96, Tab Textor (USA) 3.87
Heat 8: Justin Becret (FRA) 9.40, Pedro Coelho (PRT) 9.30, Simo Berrada (MAR) 7.84, Bachir Kindi (MAR) 7.60

PRO CASABLANCA WOMEN’S ROUND 2 MATCHUPS:

Heat 1: Mahina Maeda (JPN), Emily Nishimoto (JPN), Carol Henrique (PRT), Melanie Giunta (PER)
Heat 2: Garazi Sanchez-Ortun (EUK), Juliette Lacome (FRA), Nadia Erostarbe (EUK) Camilla Kemp (PRT)
Heat 3: Leilani McGonagle (CRI), Lucia Indurain (ARG), Minami Nonaka (JPN), Kobie Enright (AUS)
Heat 4: Josefina Ane (ARG), Julie Nishimoto (JPN), Tessa Thyssen (FRA), Leonor Fragoso (PRT)

PRO CASABLANCA WOMEN’S ROUND 1 RESULTS:

Heat 1: Mahina Maeda (JPN) 12.50, Juliette Lacome (FRA) 10.44, Neis Lartigue (FRA) 10.07, Lilias Tebbai (MAR) 5.03
Heat 2: Carol Henrique (PRT) 11.16, Camilla Kemp (PRT) 10.64, Eveline Hooft (NDL) 7.96, Lara Damelian (AUS) 4.43
Heat 3: Garazi Sanchez-Ortun (EUK) 14.00, Emily Nishimoto (JPN) 11.77, Uhaina Joly (FRA) 9.66, Nina Reynal (FRA) 7.74
Heat 4: Nadia Erostarbe (EUK) 13.10, Melanie Giunta (PER) 10.97, Yolanda Hopkins (PRT) 9.40, Elle Sampiere (USA) 6.67
Heat 5: Leilani McGonagle (CRI) 12.17, Julie Nishimoto (JPN) 11.00, Lucia Martino (ESP) 9.33, Fatima Berrada (MAR) 3.26
Heat 6: Minami Nonaka (JPN) 15.00, Leonor Fragoso (PRT) 7.76, Leticia Canales Bilbao (EUK) 7.50, Marion Philippe (PYF) 5.06
Heat 7: Josefina Ane (ARG) 10.10, Lucia Indurain (ARG) 7.77, Lucia Cosoleto (ARG) 7.20, Lucy Campbell (GBR) 0.00
Heat 8: Tessa Thyssen (FRA) 15.84, Kobie Enright (AUS) 11.06, Nagisa Tashiro (JPN) 9.47, Mariana Assis (PRT) 6.63