The Santa Surf Pro, a 6-Star Prime event, got underway in tricky two to three foot waves today at the famous lefthander of San Juan and sixteen heats were completed during Day 1 of competition. Thirty-two surfers were able to find their way out of the tricky conditions on offer and advance through to Round 2 to meet with the event’s top seeds tomorrow from tomorrow.
Hodei Collazo (EUK), 24, fired for the opening of the prestigious event posting the highest heat score of the event in Heat 13 of Round 1 as the tide was going out. Collazo, a longtime top European competitor, ended up winning with an impressive 18.50 point tally (out of a possible 20) including a stunning 9.67 point ride (out of a possible 10) to close his Round 1 battle and advance through to Round 2 where he will face ASP Top 45 surfer Rodrigo Dornelles (BRA) and ASP European Junior wildcard Vincent Duvignac (FRA).
“It was a lot better than I thought when I got out there and I found two bombs,” Collazo said. “I was not too confident earlier in the day because the on-shore made it hard but I definitely found my rhythm out there. I am stoked to start in such a big event started like that.”
Collazo, who has not had a good result in the past two months, looked fit and focused for his start in the Santa Surf Pro and left the water satisfied with his first run.
“I’ve had a tough time this year and I really needed a break before competing again after that bad summer,” Collazo said. “I stayed at home and enjoyed free surfing with my friends and tried some new boards. I feel like I have found some good ones and I am really fresh and happy to be here. It feels like at home here.”
Fellow Europeans Eric Rebiere (FRA) and Justin Mujica (PRT) opened the six-day prime event in good form as well surfing at low tide in hollower and longer lefthanders and securing their ticket for Round 2 with promissing scores.
Mujica, 30, who placed equal 5th in the Santa Surf Pro last year finishing his run in the Quarterfinlas, posted one of the best scores of the day to win his Round 1 battle over fellow Portuguese and top European surfer Ruben Gonzalez (PRT). Mujica, who ended up with a 14.67 point heat result (out of a possible 20), found the best wave of the morning posting an 8.17 point ride (out of a possible 10) on his second wave and make his intentions clear.
“I am pretty happy to get through my first heat because it was not easy out there,” Mujica said. “I found some good waves at the beginning and got that 8 pointer which gave me the lead and eventually the win.”
Mujica, who has had a tough summer leg in Europe not getting any significant result, was definitely at ease despite the bumpy conditions and looked focused and in good shape for his start in the event.
“I am stoked to be back here,” Mujica said. “I just love surfing that wave on my backhand and I feel I can get some good scores. The 5th place I got last year is the best result of my career ever so I feel confident here and I hope I can equal it at least.”
Mujica’s heat score was quickly equaled by 18-year-old phenomenon and rising Owen Wright (AUS) who placed equal 3rd last Sunday in the ASP WQS 4-Star in Gran Canaria. Wright, who impressed last week with a solid backhand attack, was looking comfortable on the lefthanders today being able to show his skills in his natural stance facing the wave. Fellow Australian stellar kid and ASP Australasia’s Junior champion Stuart Kennedy (AUS) followed shortly and answered back with the an excellent 16.34 point heat tally (out of a possible 20).
The event, the second of a three-event serie which start in the near-by island of Gran Canaria and finishes in Portugal in two weeks from now, will be crucial for both ASP WQS international and European ratings with valuable 3000 ratings’ points going to the winner that should be crowned next Sunday, October 19.
Eight heats remain before Round 1 is completed and all competitors will meet at 8 AM tomorrow morning and sixteen are scheduled again with top seeds Heitor Alves (BRA), ASP WQS No. 6 Marlon Lipke (DEU) and No. 4 Patrick Gudauskas (USA) all getting their start in the event.