After a day of travel from Portugal, the first competitors of the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Qualifying Series (WQS) 5-Star Movistar O’Neill Pantin Classic were able to get their Spanish campaign underway in good four to five foot (1.2 to 1.5 meter) waves. Round 1 was completed and 10 heats of the second round were done today offering some excellent and promissing levels of surfing.
With less entries than on the previous events, proceedings got into serious clashes straight away and some renowned names who have already shined this summer in Europe had their go on Day 1 of competition.
Wiggoly Dantas (BRA), 18, who won the ASP WQS 5-Star event in England and placed equal 9th in the ASP WQS 6-Star contest in Portugal last week, lost no time to remind his opponents of his good form and improving surfing. Dantas, who arrived a month ago out of the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) Top 100, now sits No. 55 and will once again be a potential giant killer when he reaches Round 3.
"It is good to have some consistent waves and be able to have fun competing," Dantas said. "It was hard in the last event but I was stoked to make it that far. It looks like Pantin is going to be big and today was already solid enough to get some scores so it is really good."
Dantas, who posted an excellent 9.33 point ride out of a possible 10 in his first encounter of the day, managed to get through Round 2 after placing second in Heat 8 of Round 2.
Dantas was not the only Brazilian to shine on Day 1 of competition as fellow coutryman and current WQS No. 10 Pedro Henrique (BRA) came up with two strong performances winning both his heats after starting in Round 1 due to a late entry. Henrique, who placed equal 9th in Portugal last sunday, was on fire in the consistent surf and will be looking for another keeper for his ratings’ total in Pantin.
"I am so stoked to already have these two heats out of the way," Henrique said. "I was not planning to come here but I decided to enter while in Portugal knowing I was risking a shocker in first round but it is done now. It seems like we are going to get some solid waves this week so it is event better.
"Henrique, who is surfing in his fifth main event in a row, remains in good form and ready to face top seed and WQS No. 4 Patrick Gudauskas (USA) for his next battle.
"I train hard to be ready for all these events and I am feeling good at the moment," Henrique said. "We are used to surfing many events around the world all year but it is hard to remain in good form. You have to be careful with your food and keep up the motivation but everything is fine for me."
The building swell came in with the high tide and some five foot (1.5 meter) waves broke at the end of the day giving powerful and heavy weight competitors all the scoring potential to show their skills.
Powerhouse Eric Rebiere (FRA), 29, a former ASP World Tour surfer and longtime WQS campaigner, chose the righthand option to post a couple of solid scores including an 8.67 point ride to finish first of Heat 8 with a 16.67 tally (out of a possible 20).
"I am pretty stoked to get scores and waves that suit my surfing well," Rebiere said. "I just went out there confidently with one goal, to make it through until Saturday as the forecast shows some 10 foot (3.5 meters) waves coming in. I am more and more focusing on big waves and if it can happen during a contest it is even better."
Rebiere, who will now meet WQS No. 21 Leigh Sedley (AUS) in Round 3, is looking forward to the upcoming events of the year and especially the Hawaiian showdown where he will be at ease in the bigger waves.
"I have been training hard every day and I feel fitter than ever," Rebiere said. "I am totally focused and ready for some big contests so I will take it heat by heat confidently. The World Qualifying Series (WQS) is not an easy tour and it is a long way until the end but I am enjoying my time."
Jay Quinn (NZL), Tanner Gudauskas (USA) and William Cardoso (BRA), were among those qualifying as well today and will be back at 9 AM tomorrow for Day 2 of action. Thirteen heats were ran today at Pantin and tomorrow will be a very long day with a minimum of 24 heats scheduled.