GRANDE PLAGE, Lacanau – France (Friday, August 10, 2012) – Small conditions greeted competitors on Day 1 of the ASP 1-Star Men’s and Women’s Airwalk Lacanau Pro Junior with offshore waves in the 1-2Ft range on offer. With a complicated forecast ahead, event officials have decided to run double banks, splitting the beach in two peaks to run twice as many heats and go as far as possible in the event.
Despite very difficult conditions, top seeded surfers have managed to find the waves and scores needed to move through to the fourth round of competition that will decide the quarter-finalists when competition resumes. Jesse Mendes (BRA) 19, was the most impressive surfer today in the 112 men’s field, displaying aggressive surfing and being rewarded with an excellent 17.50 heat total out of 20.
“I surfed three times today and I’m exhausted”, Mendes stated after his last heat of the day. “It’s super sunny and the waves are very small so you gotta go pretty hard and put a lot of effort in your surf, but it was fun it was a good day !”
Mendes, currently ranked 56th on the ASP Men’s World Rankings, will surf in the upcoming 5-Star event in Lacanau next week and seized the opportunity to come early and surf amongst Europe’s best under-21 to acclimate before the main event. His incredible 9.17 out of 10 in his last bout today attests that the process has been completed.
“I lost in Newquay so I talked to my manager and I asked him if there were any spots left in this event and luckily there were so I got here last night and it’s a good warm up for me to see how the waves are like and train before the main event. This year I had a 5th place in the Australian Open and a 9th recently at the US Open, so it’s not my best year so far but there’s still the European leg and Hawaii so I’m looking forward to getting some better results in.”
The talented goofy-footer originating from the surroundings of Sao Paulo in Brazil has missed the qualification for the Elite ASP World Championship Tour last year and is out to better his last season and get the coveted ticket for an inaugural season amongst the World’s Best.
“This is only my second Junior event in 2012, I did one in Australia earlier this year that I won, but this is not my main objective. Last year I almost qualified for the CT, so I’m just focusing more on the Star Tour and if I’m not making it maybe I can get a spot on the World Juniors with my rankings through the Star Tour.”
Beyrick De Vries (Durban, South-Africa) 19, was the only other competitor today to come close to Mendes’s level of performance and for most of the day hold the three best heat totals of the event before the Brazillian blew up late this afternoon. De Vries, also just landed in France after the English stop in Newquay and will surf both the Junior and main event in Lacanau.
“We’re just coming from England where it was really small, so I’ve had some time on my small waves board,” De Vries said. “I came here and the waves are actually smaller, which I didn’t really think could happen but it’s even harder here. I got two waves down the beach that opened up a little, and I was able to do a couple turns and a little air.”
De Vries found the best scoring rides in three different occasions today defeating his competition and qualifying for the Round of 32. In an average season that saw the young South-African perform best at home in a Prime event in Ballito a month ago, De Vries will be looking to get good momentum in the Airwalk Lacanau Pro Junior and keep the ball rolling into next week’s 5-Star.
“This is my last year as a Junior so I’m happy to be here and get some more time practising in Lacanau, more time wearing the rashvest it’s good experience. I haven’t had too many good results except for a Rd24 in the Prime event in Ballito, South-Africa that helped my points a lot and got me into all the 6-Stars, now my goal is to have some other good results and hopefully get in all the Primes next year !”
Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR) 18, current leader of the European Junior rankings, was the last surfer to qualify tonight surfing in the 44th heat of the day and moving into the next round along with most of the top seeds. Fresh off a win in the previous Junior event last week in Galicia, the young Morroccan managed despite a dying swell to find opportunities and hit hard the little knee high waves on offer on the secondary bank at La Grande Plage of Lacanau.
“When I got here this morning I saw that it was small but there were some good waves,” Boukhiam said. “Dimitri (Ouvre), Beyrick and Jesse Mendes surfed super well on the main site, so I didn’t look at the waves too much and just went out. Honestly it’s one of the hardest heat I’ve had to surf ever. I had a little left, and a little right in the end there, and with no knowledge of the scores it was really stressing !”
Already counting two event wins and 3rd place in the opening 3-Star Junior event of the season, Boukhiam won’t be able to reinforce his lead on the rankings and will need to keep his direct competition Vasco Ribeiro (PRT) out of the Top two in Lacanau to be crowned the 2012 European Junior Champion.
“I think there’s a little push in swell on sunday and monday and I really hope we’re going to get the waves. When it’s small like this, it’s all about explosivity and persistence. It starts with the paddle you got to really paddle hard to get up on the wave with enough speed to start early and hit the lip quickly before it closes out. I’m in a good form right now, I’ve lost weight so it helps out there, and I just hope we’ll get cool waves for the showdown on Monday and to decide the Title !”
Event organizers have decided to re-assess conditions tomorrow morning at 8am for a potential start of the Women’s event if conditions allow for it, and a 10am Call for the Men’s.
The 2012 Airwalk Lacanau Pro Junior is scheduled from August 10-13 in Lacanau. For all results, photos, video highlights, press releases log on to
For additional ASP information log on to www.aspeurope.com
The Airwalk Lacanau Pro Junior is made possible with the support of the following event partners: Airwalk, Ville de Lacanau, Lacanau Surf Club, Region Aquitaine, Conseil Général de Gironde, Fédération Française de Surf, Super U, Sport +, Medococean, Smurfit Kappa, RTL2, 20Minutes, MCM, GoPro, Unbottle Yourself amongst others.