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The E-Pro Europe, eighth event of the Surf Web Series, fired into opening round action with some event favorites taking early heat wins to start creating some momentum with jaw-dropping clips.

While event judges seemed to be on the same page across the board to start things off, fans leaned toward the underdog to shake up proceedings with their critical fifth vote the tie-breaker when needed. Event threats Maxime Huscenot, Miguel Blanco, Kauli Vaast and Vicente Romero all took out a Round 1 victory but will have to fend off the likes of opening day standouts Gaspard Larsonneur, Ivo Cacao, Hans Odriozola and Dani Garcia.

Huscenot blasted his way into the event with La Graviere, Hossegor, perfection in Round 1 and completely disappeared behind a hefty barrel only to come out after the wave regurgitated from within. The Frenchman earned first-place across the board aside from the fan voting over Francisco Benjamin, also advancing, while Lander Sanchez and Yoni Cadenas will have to battle in Repercharge Round 2 for their hopes of staying alive in the competition.

Francisco Benjamim - Santa Bárbara Beach - Photo: Your personal file

The barrel fest continued into Heats 2 and 3 with Spain’s Romero and Portugal’s Blanco earning an first-place sweep, aside from fan voting, respectively. Romero’s Hossegor screamer topped Tomas Alcobia, also moving into Round 3, Raul Bormann and Miguel Castrillion. Blanco delivered from his home country with a Café Alves dreamer to fend off the fan’s choice of the heat’s lone Englishman Sam Hearn who delivered four solid maneuvers on a smaller wave. It was Blanco’s compatriot Luan Carvalho earned his spot into Round 3 with his backside attack.

Tomás Alcobia - Algarve, Portugal - Photo - @portugalsurfshots

One of the spotlight heats featured a regional clash in Heat 4 including Teahupoo specialist Vaast taking on the impressive showings from Andy Criere’s fronthand, earning him runner-up, Germany’s explosive up-and-comer Dylan Groen and Criere’s fellow Spaniard Pelayo Suarez. It was the French Polynesian star Vaast that earned his Round 1 win with his dynamic forehand attack in which he annihilated an Estagnot, France, lip multiple times.

Kauli Vaast - Photo @timmckenna

World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) veterans Larsonneur, who started off 2020 at No. 86, and Cacao made their presence known with respective heat wins to start their campaigns. Larsonneur displayed the surface of his impressive backhand on a Sud-Quest, France’s, lefthander to take down Heat 5 while Cacao delivered a clip from one of his home country’s, Portugal, most well-known waves of Supertubos for an incredible backhand barrel ride.

Ivo Cação - Buarcos - Photo: @joao_bracourt

Rounding off Round 1 victories were Basque Country’s Odriozola and Spain’s Garcia to secure their place directly into Round 3. The young guns delivered brilliant clips with both surfers putting their forehands on full display – Odriozola as a regular-footer and Garcia a goofyfooter. These two will be ones to keep eyes on moving forward amid the veteran talent in the draw.

Dani Garcia - Telo Islands - Photo: Your personal file

The next round of voting will begin February 17 with Round 2 to determine who will advance into Round 3 alongside those who advanced.

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