Historic morning for national women’s surfing, this Sunday, in Taghazout, after Yolanda Hopkins’ triumph in the Moroccan QS3000, which was the first European QS race in the year 2023.
A victory that automatically guaranteed the conquest of the women’s European title by the Algarve surfer, to which is added the qualification for the Challenger Series 2023 circuit, where places for the 2024 world circuit of the World Surf League will be at stake.
In a final day with three Portuguese among the four finalists of the Moroccan race, the first heat of the day saw the French and former world top Pauline Ado beat Carolina Mendes, with the former two-time national champion finishing in 3rd place in the event that simultaneously counted for the European and African ranking. In the following heat, Yolanda won a 100% national duel against Kika Veselko, who also joined Carol in 3rd place.
The decisive heat saw Pauline Ado start at full speed, leaving Yolanda Hopkins in a delicate position. However, Yolanda asserted her status as leader of the European ranking and responded with a great final spike, operating the turnaround already in the last waves, with a score of 7 points, which earned her the triumph by just 0.07 points of difference – 13 .40 against 13.33 points.
After having won the QS3000 in Anglet, in France, and the QS1000 in Newquay, in the United Kingdom, Yolanda Hopkins scored her third triumph in the 2022/23 season, thus securing the European title in advance. At a time when, according to the current calendar, only the QS1000 of Costa de Caparica remains to be disputed until the end of the 2022/23 season, and with Yolanda having more than 3000 points ahead of the French Pauline Ado, the title will have already been consummated, although official confirmation from the World Surf League is still lacking. Yolanda succeeds Teresa Bonvalot as queen of European surfing.
Also highlighted in the ranking is Kika Veselko, who maintained the 3rd position, while Carolina Mendes rose from 5th to 4th in the female European hierarchy. With Yolanda Hopkins already qualified mathematically for the 2023 Challenger Series and with Kika also already guaranteed a place, due to the recent junior world title won in California, Carol was in a good position to join her compatriots in this important qualifying circuit for the elite of world surfing. In these accounts will also be Teresa Bonvalot, who secured a spot by virtue of her final classification in 2022, where she finished in 6th place and just one place away from qualifying for the Women’s World Tour.
On the male side, the calculations are more complicated, at a time when there is no Portuguese surfer in the top 10 of the European ranking. In Taghazout, where Frenchman Kauli Vaast won the final victory, the best national surfer was Joaquim Chaves in 9th place, while Frederico Morais finished in 13th place. At the outset, only Portuguese surfers will be left with the QS3000 from Costa de Caparica, in April, to try to reverse this situation.
Tenth victory in a row for Portuguese surfers
Yolanda’s triumph was historic for the various reasons already listed, but there is another important milestone reached by the Algarve surfer. The victory in Taghazout corresponds to the tenth consecutive triumph of Portuguese surfers on the European QS circuit. Since the post-pandemic, only Portuguese surfers know what it’s like to win on the European circuit, with only two events in between that were not finished due to poor sea conditions – the Azores Pro, in October last year, and the Pro Anglet, in August 2021. The last success of non-Portuguese surfers on this circuit dates back to February 2020, when Frenchwoman Pauline Ado won a QS1500 in Tenerife.
Cycle of Portuguese victories in the European QS
Pro Tazghazout 2023 (Marrocos) – Yolanda Hopkins
Pro Anglet 2022 (França) – Yolanda Hopkins
Lacanau Pro 2022 (França) – Kika Veselko
Boardmasters Open 2022 (Reino Unido) – Yolanda Hopkins
Pantin Classic 2022 (Espanha) – Teresa Bonvalot
Caparica Surf Fest 2022 (Portugal) – Teresa Bonvalot
Pro Netanya 2022 (Israel) – Teresa Bonvalot
Azores Pro 2021 (Portugal) – Teresa Bonvalot
Pantin Classic 2021 (Espanha) – Carolina Mendes
Caparica Surf Fest 2021 (Portugal) – Teresa Bonvalot