The QS10,000 ABANCA Galicia Classic Surf Pro ran through 16 heats of men's Round 2 today in small surf, with only a lucky few unlocking the full potential of the scoring scale. Somehow though, for the first half the day, all the event's top seeded surfers survived that treacherous round.
It all changed in Heat 8 and with the early exit of current World No. 24 Jack Freestone quickly followed by a similar fate for Championship Tour rookie Soli Bailey. The current Qualifying Series rankings leader Jorgann Couzinet somehow escaped that scenario with a last-second comeback to advance in second.
Earlier this morning, Marco Fernandez posted the first excellent score of the day, an 8.00 for a good combo of backhand turns in the lip. The Brasilian's backup 4.73 only qualified him in second place in a heat Evan Geiselman took out.
The next two excellent numbers came from two goofy foots who threaded the soft little lefts brilliantly, going rail-to-rail with powerful turns and virtually no speed loss in between turns.
Cronulla's Connor O'Leary posted an 8.17 for his effort to take out Heat 6. After winning the QS in 2016 and two-year stint on the Championship Tour, the powerful surfer looks determined to get back on tour, and could make up important ground in Pantin if he can keep his momentum going into the next few days.
"I grew up in a place that pretty much has these waves on lock," he said. "I saw those lefts and thought well I know how to surf this, so it was just a matter of catching a lot of them and let my surfing do the talking. I just love the look of everything here, it's so raw, those big cliff faces. The food is incredible too so I've just been eating a lot and trying to surf a little bit too!"
A couple of heats later, Tahiti's Mihimana Braye took a page out of O'Leary's book and put together a similar beautiful left with savage off-the-lips and a big lay-back to wrap it up for an 8.00 and a win into Round 3. Braye was responsible for the day's first real upset as he eliminated Freestone in the process, and will take all the confidence banked into the rest of an event where he's yet to find major success.
"I've been coming to Europe since I'm 15 competing on the Pro Juniors so despite surfing perfect waves at home I have built some experience in pretty average conditions as well," he explained. "It's tough out there you know, especially on your forehand and with this wind, there isn't much wall so you really have to find the right one and luckily I got one in this heat."
Morgan Cibilic dominated an all-Aussie affair in Heat 14 and got his own 8+ ride, an 8.33 actually, the highest of the whole round, for four backhand hits with flawless transitions on a shoulder-high wave. Jack Robinson advanced in second and the pair eliminated higher ranked surfers Jordan Lawler and Ethan Ewing in the process.
"Conditions are so tricky with the constant changes of the tide so I'm just happy I was able to make it out there," Cibilic said. "All these guys are a little bit older than me and I've really looked up to them and the level that they perform at. I'm frothing that I was able to come out on top of that one."
All surfers will be back at 10 a.m Wednesday for a fourth day of action. The women's winner will be crowned as September 4 marks the final day of the event waiting period for the field.
The ABANCA Galicia Classic Surf Pro is scheduled from September 1-7, 2019 at playa de Pantin, Galicia / Spain. For all results, photos, video highlights and press releases, log on to worldsurfleague.com.