The podium of the 2014 SATA Azores Pro. Photo: ASP/Poullenot
Defeating Joan Duru in a hard-fought final, it was Brazil’s Jesse Mendes who ended up taking out the ASP Prime in the Azores over the weekend, claiming the first event of this year’s Portuguese Waves Series which again carries a bonus $50,000 this year for the overall winner.
Despite yet more challenging surf conditions, finalists treated crowds with an opening exchange right on the buzzer. Duru first, closely followed by Mendes on two righthanders, the advantage going to Mendes with a 7.50 against Duru’s 6.17. The talented Brazilian carrying momentum from his semifinal performance, quickly backed it up with a 6.17 as well, to take command of the final.
The two hungry QS campaigners even took the battle to the next level, sharing a peak, Duru on the right, Mendes on the left, but eventually both falling short of improving their situation. A little lull in action got everyone on their toes, before the Brazilian added a 7.03 to put Duru in a difficult position from which he’d be unable to recover, Mendes selecting another beautiful wave on his forehand, nailing two big turns for an excellent 8.33 and the event win.
“I stuck to my plan that’s all, these past two years I’ve been thinking too much about what the other guys were doing,” Mendes stated. “Now I’ve matured a lot, and given the waves I knew I could do it so I just surfed, that’s what I love to do. I’m so psyched, this win is huge for me and I want to keep this momentum now going into the next events. We’re like brothers with the other Brazilians, we travel around the world together and it’s amazing to have their support right now.”
After a somewhat underwhelming season so far, a runner-up finish in the Azores for Joan Duru affords him a jump to the top of the European QS Title race, but with only a narrow lead over young Italian Leonardo Fioravanti before next month’s final event in Cascais.
“If I was told before this event that I’d get a second I would have been stoked, but right now I feel a little gutted cause I couldn’t really express myself in the final,” Duru commented. “I used to go into events telling myself I could maybe make one or two heats, but this is a game-changer; I feel much more confident and hopefully I can keep going good until the end of the year.”
SATA AZORES PRO FINAL RESULTS:
1 – Jesse Mendes (BRA) 15.83
2 – Joan Duru (FRA) 12.44
SATA AZORES PRO SEMIFINAL RESULTS:
SF 1: Jesse Mendes (BRA) 14.10 def. Ricardo Christie (NZL) 11.50
SF 2: Joan Duru (FRA) 9.00 def. Yadin Nicol (AUS) 8.00