ZARAUTZ, Basque Country – Spain (Friday, August 31, 2012) – Conditions got trickier on Day 4 of the San Miguel Pro Zarautz pres. by Euskaltel, with strong onshore winds and 3-4Ft surf on offer at the main beach of Zarautz. Competition started early with the Round of 48, moved into the Round of 24, and ran the first four heats of the Round of 16 today that decided the first four quarter-finalists.
Cory Arrambide (USA) 23, was the last to surf and win his heat today over young Australian and former World Junior Champion Jack Freestone. In a close fought Round of 16 matchup, Arrambide managed to overcome Freestone’s run in the San Miguel Pro Zarautz in the dying minutes of their exchange.
“It was a good heat,” Arrambide started. “Jack is such a good surfer I knew it was going to be a tough one. I actually let him get a wave under my priority and he did a huge air 360, there’s nothing you can do, he can get a closeout and get an 8.. I kind of made a mistake, but there were plenty of other waves, I got a little left, made a couple good turns and got the 7 I needed so I’m stoked !”
Netting his best result in 2012 in the process, Arrambide will approach the next round without added pressure coming as an outsider and will have the opportunity tomorrow to prove he deserves his spot in the quarter-finals. Despite displaying USA besides his name, Arrambide can count on the local crowd support thank’s to a family heritage giving him a little advantage over his opponents for the rest of the event.
“My great grand-father is from here, I don’t know too much about it, but I was actually in the Mundaka contest when I was 16, and a lot of people from Mundaka were cheering for me cause I’m kind of Basque so that’s really cool ! I’ve already met a lot of people here just hanging around and it’s really cool to feel the good vibe !”
Jano Belo (BRA) 30, qualified for the quarter-finals eliminating the stand-out performer of the entire event so far Joan Duru (FRA) in their Round of 16 encounter. Unable to find the waves that saw him post scores in the 9 point range all event, Duru couldn’t match Belo’s aerial skills and was forced out of the event. Belo who hasn’t come out of the Round of 48 all-season was stoked to finally make his way into the last 8 surfers in Zarautz.
“It was a really hard heat,” Belo stated. “Joan this morning posted 9′s and I knew it was going to be a super hard one. I tried a good air right from the start and I landed it so it gave me confidence to continue this way. I’m so stoked to make the quarters, and I’m going to try to get momentum and go further ! I like competing in man-on-man heats, on the Star Tour most heats are with three other guys out and there can be a lot of hassling, but with priority you can be patient and wait for the best waves, it’s so much better !”
Out of 28 Brazilian who entered the San Miguel Pro Zarautz pres. by Euskaltel, only four remain in contention for the coveted Basque title and will try to keep the trophy in Brazil after last year’s historic win of Gabriel Medina. After the early loss of Filipe Toledo (BRA) who was the all-time favourite in the Brazilian contingent, Belo will have the hard task to keep hope alive for the numerous South-American fans logged-in to the event’s LIVE webcast.
“The Brazilian are ripping at the moment,” Belo commented. “Gabriel (Medina, winner of last year’s San Miguel Pro Zarautz) on the World Tour is a huge talent and an inspiration for everyone. Filipe (Toledo) has been coming really strong in the last few events too. I have a lot of friends over here, and all the Brazilian are very supportive so I’m stoked to have the support.”
Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR) 18, was responsible for the biggest upset today, defeating Glenn Hall (IRL) in the opening Round of 16 heat this afternoon. The young Moroccan freshly crowned European Junior Champion has been on a rampage in Zarautz and is already assured of his best result in a 6-Star event.
“It’s my third heat today so I’ve been hanging out here all-day watching the conditions that have changed a lot since we went from full to low tide to full again” Boukhiam stated. “That was my first heat at high tide and I found it better cause it peaks everywhere and I was in the right spot and managed to get two good waves.. I was a bit late on all my turns but I got the scores and I’m super happy to get into my first quarters in a 6-Star.”
Following an excellent Junior season where he won two events and placed third and fifth in two others, Boukhiam shows in Zarautz that he’s at only 18 years old ready to take on the big leagues. Residing most of the year in South-West France, Boukhiam had already the opportunity last year to surf in a major event when he won a ticket for the Quiksilver Pro France in which he defeated major International superstars to place 13th as a wildcard.
“Everybody knows Glenn (Hall) is a contest machine, and he’s a super cool guy.. He’s an excellent surfer but I wasn’t really stressed I just went in the water wanting to show my best surf. My main strategy here just like in the juniors is to keep calm and select the best waves, and it seemed to have worked so far ! I know the guys have a lot more power on the Star tour and I think a key to success is showing determination and pushing hard all your manoeuvers.”
Jay Thompson (AUS) 30, will surf in the remaining four heats of the Round of 16 tomorrow for a spot into the quarter-finals of the event. Coming from a fifth place in France two weeks ago, the talented Australian Gold Coast local has been regurlarly posting solid scores and will be one to watch in the remainder of this event.
“It’s a little bit funky with the high tide, conditions change so much with the tide here, but I’m feeling good, I got a couple of ok ones and I got through so I’m stoked ! I had a year off last year due to injury and I guess it was the right time to take a year off I was a little burned out. This year I’m just trying to feel it out again and make some heats, just get a little bit of momentum. I did alright in the last event in Lacanau and I’ll just try to get the ball rolling !”
The former World Championship Tour surfer has been discrete but also efficient so far in the event and will count on his powersurfing to try and overtake some of the younger competitors when competition resumes tomorrow.
“We are in a big kind of revolutionary stage in surfing, guys are doing massive airs. You know it was a weird stage like a year ago when the judging rewarded a lot of progressive manoeuvers and it seems like they’ve brought it back to a nice balance in-between so it’s better for me that’s for sure. You know a heat’s a heat, and if you surf a smart one and surf your best generally you’re going to win it, it’s kind of all you can do !”
The forecast for tomorrow should see a smaller swell but clement winds and sunshine for the last day of the San Miguel Pro Zarautz pres. by Euskaltel. The next call is set to 9:30am tomorrow for the re-start of the Round of 16 with Heat 5, all the way to the final of the event.
The ASP 6-Star San Miguel Pro Zarautz presented by Euskaltel is scheduled from August 28 – September 2, 2012 in Zarautz, Basque Country – SPAIN. For all results, photos, video highlights, press releases log on to zarautz.aspeurope.com.
For additional ASP information log on to www.aspeurope.com
The San Miguel Pro Zarautz pres. by Euskaltel is made possible with the support of the following event partners: Euskaltel, Turismo Zarautz, Gipuzkoa, Euskadi, Coca-Cola, New Era, Gutizi, Haker, Le Diario Vasco, Surflimit, Lamono, Kutxa, GSF, EHSF, Alaia, Doblehilo, Bar Pagoeta, Iturrieta Berri, 3Sesenta, Margruesa.com amongst others.