Nazare Pro 2017
Costes – it’s French for ‘excellence’. – Day 4.
Praia Do Norte, Nazaré Portugal, Thursday October 7, 2017
Praia Do Norte turned back on in a big way for the Men’s Pro Event today. A larger 2 – 3 metre swell had appeared as expected, and the famous liquid mountains that Nazare is so well known for were in large supply.
The sudden death Round 2 heats were first in the water and no one was afraid to go big. Previous world champ and leader of the tour for most of this year (until Iain Campbell went on a dominant tear) Jared Houston of South Africa went flying high in his heat, launching an incredible backflip to stamp his authority and book himself a surf in Round 3 along with Diego Cabrerra of the Canary Islands, who connected some beautiful rides in the pocket and a clean tail-popped reverse to progress also.
Local rider Antonio Cardoso of Praia Do Norte also maintained his focus to win his heat and advance. Jacob Romero and Mike Stewart took out their heat with some large flip from Romero and beautiful reverse air from Stewart was enough to see them both progress. Eder Luciano of Brazil and Miguel Adao of Portugal also progressed, while Alex Uranga of the Basque Country and Alan Munoz of Chile held off in form Spaniard Cristian Perez to progress too.
With Round 2 completed, it was straight into Round 3 to halve the final 24 in the race.
The first 2 heats saw Uri Valadao of Brazil and Maxime Castillo of France take convincing wins to progress through. The match-up between Diego Cabrera and Mike Stewart was another story, with the heat going to Cabrera in a nail-biter. Jared Houston kept control of a heat that Tanner McDaniel was unable to really take part in, despite him attempting a massive air rollo that was incomplete.
Tristan Roberts of South Africa was eliminated by an in-form Eder Luciano of Brazil, who maintained control of the heat from start to finish. Iain Campbell was his characteristic self, maintaining a high heat score average and making his opponent work for a victory. Luke Kitchin, who progressed through the trials in such fiery form ran out of steam it seemed and while he was disappointed about being eliminated you could tell that he was pleased to see his fellow countryman progress one heat closer to his world title.
Basque superstar and long-shot world title contender Alex Uranga stayed narrowly ahead of Brazil’s Gabriel Braga for a spot in the competition, while Alan Munoz of Chile stayed ahead of Australia’s Lewy Finnegan. Roberto Bruno of Brazil and local rider Antonio Cardoso battled it out in a very tight heat that saw the local edge out the Brazilian. The local crowd were on their feet any time Cardoso even looked at a wave. Such support and passion is truly a wonderful sight to behold.
The crowd went silent as last year’s world champion and current contender Pierre Louis Costes of France stepped up to the shoreline to battle it out with fellow countryman and also previous multiple world champion Amaury Laverne. There was a lot riding on this heat for both Costes and Iain Campbell. An early exit at the hands of Lavernhe would leave the door wide open for Campbell to take the championship.
The heat started at a snail’s pace, with the high-tide coming in it seemed like the ocean was taking a breather. Costes was first to strike, with an average ride which saw him complete a rollo. Lavernhe had a low scoring start, but backed it up with a high scoring 8 point ride for a larger set wave that barrelled along the shallow sand bank that stretched parallel to the shore only 20 metres away from the crowd. Costes had a back up score which saw him hold his lead, but Lavernhe was looking dangerous.
The heat stayed quiet, until Costes stroked into a right-hander that showed plenty of promise. The Frenchman stayed composed as he bottom turned and lined up the end section that loomed ahead. The wave marching towards the violent shoreline, Costes attacked the oncoming section and launched a perfectly timed and executed air reverse that sent the large crowd into a swirl. The judges said 10, and Manny V got out the golden fist and went ‘Boom!’
With Costes now very much in control of the heat, Lavernhe was scratching for a response. He didn’t find it. Costes’ world title dream stayed alive. Campbell would have to keep fighting.
The closing heats of the day struggled to live up to what transpired between Costes and Lavernhe, if not for a small amount of controversy regarding the match up between Jacob Romero and local Dino Carmo. It was a close heat and quite indefinite regarding a clear winner for most of it. Romero found a ramp and launched a flip onto the sand in the dying stages and the high berm of sand on the beach obscured the judges view. Needing an above average score for the win, video reviews were consulted to get a better idea of the completion of the move and the judges decided to award the score Romero needed for the win.
The final heat of the day took part in very challenging conditions. The high tide wreaked havoc for the riders, but local rider Miguel Adao was able to find the rides he needed to end Dave Hubbard’s campaign.
Competition was put on hold at the conclusion of Round 3 with a call to be made later in the evening regarding the restart of the Pro Juniors.
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Round 4 is set!