Praia de Santa Bárbara, Sao Miguel – Azores Islands (Saturday, September 29, 2012) – Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 18, has won the ASP 6-Star SATA Airlines Azores Pro today in clean 2-3Ft surf over Pauline Ado (FRA) 21. Following two lay-days, competition finally started this morning and ran through the whole contest to culminate with the crowning of Buitendag this afternoon and put an end to an exciting 2012 Women’s World Tour season.
Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 18, has been on a rampage all-day, starting her Azorean campaign with an incredible 9.5 out of 10 in the very first heat of the event, which she earned with a combination of three radical backside hacks on a running righthander. The young South-African now ranked second in the World, then continued to post excellent scores throughout the following rounds to finally come out with the win.
“I feel great !” Buitendag stated. “I started really bad in Australia this year, so when I went to Peru it was kind of no pressure and I got a win there ! It was just way beyond my expectations and getting two wins in one year is just plain crazy so I’m stoked ! It’s the most heats I’ve surfed in a day for sure, I think 6 since 7:30 this morning.. My mom’s been feeding me all-day orange juice, chocolate everything she could find that helped !! When I got into the final, I was just like ‘I didn’t surf five heats for nothing’, and I just wanted to do my best for 20 more minutes !”
Buitendag, who had already secured her spot on the prestigious ASP Women’s World Championship Tour for the 2013 season before the SATA Airlines Azores Pro, put an exclamation mark to an already near-perfect season. With two event wins here and in Peru, a third place and two fifth counting in her five-best results of 2012, Buitendag has shown consistency in the major events and will be a force to reckon with next year amongst the Top 17.
“It’s such an honor to be seen as a Top 17 woman in the world, as I said I don’t know what to expect, I’ve watched a couple of CT events but I’ve never participated in one. I’m just going to learn from each event, and I’ll see what I can do, if I can create some upsets I’ll be happy ! I’m looking forward to all events next year, I’d say maybe Snappers the most cause I’ve watched it several years in a row and it’s definitely amazing !! I have one more event to go next week, the World Juniors in Bali; all of my friends are going and it’s going to be a really good time with great waves, it should be amazing ! ”
Pauline Ado (FRA) 21, placed runner-up to an unbeatable Buitendag today, and secures her requalification for the 2013 World Championship Tour in the process. The young French competitor from Anglet entered this event ranked 6th and was in the most critical position, needing to better a quarter-final result to ameliorate her situation.
“I’m super tired and sore, I surfed six times today but at the same time so happy to requalify !” Ado commented. “I came in this contest number 6 and I knew I had to have a good result. I’ve been really nervous all week, so I’m really relieved and happy. Obviously I wish I had won, but Bianca surfed really good and I’m super stoked !”
Pauline Ado will enter her third year amongst the Elite ASP Top 17 next season and count on her growing experience of managing heats under pressure to try and climb spots on the rankings. After an exhausting day of competing in Sao Miguel, the talented natural-footer could finally let go knowing she had made it and enjoy her performance with her entourage at the beach.
“All week I didn’t sleep really good, so I just tried to focus on what I could control, basically my surfing and myself, and I was trying not to think about the other surfers.. It’s really hard with everybody around you telling you things about the points, rankings etc.. but in the end it worked ! My parents are here and even though they’re not really coaches, they’re always here to support me if I’m having a bad day or if I need to talk.. I liked having them here, they could see what I do and I knew the last events in Europe were going to be important that’s why I asked them to come. They’re really nervous, I think being on the beach is worse cause you can’t control anything, they just have to watch and wait !”
Alana Blanchard (HAW) 22, placed third, defeated in the semi-finals by event runner-up Pauline Ado, but her result in the Azores sees her join the Top 6 of the World Rankings synonym of qualification for the coveted WCT. The Hawaiian who’s already spent two full season at the Elite level was ecstatic about joining back her friends next year.
“I’m pretty tired but really happy !” Blanchard reflected. “I had a lot of fun in the Azores and am excited to come back next year ! It was definitely tricky today, the conditions kept changing but there was waves the whole day so I think we all got lucky and we’re all really happy ! I’m really stoked about making the CT, I wasn’t really thinking about it so I’m really happy to hear it !”
Coming into the ASP 6-Star SATA Airlines Azores Pro, Alana Blanchard was sitting just one spot outside of the qualification zone and needed to better a 25th place, which she easily did by advancing all the way to the semi-finals. The stylish forehand approach of Blanchard was a standout throughout the competition, and helped her move into the fifth slot to join the World Championship Tour.
“I’ve been on the WCT two times, and I’m excited to see all the girls again and you know like travel with all the Hawaiian girls and just see everyone surfing at their best ! I’m always looking forward to Snapper but all the events are amazing so I’m super excited !!”
Philippa Anderson (AUS) 20, placed equal third defeated by event winner Bianca Buitendag in their semi-final matchup, but claims the highest result of her young career at Praia de Santa Barbara.
“I’m super stoked !!” Anderson said. “Obviously it would have been good to get through, but I’m stoked, I’ve never made a semi-final and the last three events of this leg I kind of just missed out by making a mistake so yeah I’m really happy to get a third.”
Anderson, who placed equal second in the ASP Women World Junior Championships last year, has stepped up her game to compete against the World’s best up-and-coming surfers and just missed one more opportunity in her semi-final bout to try and overtake Buitendag and make the final.
“I can definitely feel it in my arms, so I’m going to go home and tell my trainers that they’re not training me enough cause I could feel it out there ! But I’m glad we surfed today, because yesterday it would have been just based on luck, which is not really what surfing is about.. I’m so happy with my ranking at the end cause last year I was around the 20 something, so I jumped up a little bit and I’ll be back again next year !!”
The European deception came from France’s Alizé Arnaud, who unfortunately suffered an early loss in the SATA Airlines Azores Pro and went from potentially qualified for the WCT, to the number 7 spot on the list of drafted surfers. Being first alternate though, Arnaud has a chance to enter World Championship Tour events next year in case one of the Top 17 surfers pull out and can be replaced. Justine Dupont (FRA), sees her Elite Tour campaign come to an end and will also need to go back to the Star events next year to try and re-qualify.
At the end of an exciting Women’s World Tour season, the final Top 6 qualifiers were finally decided in Sao Miguel today and are as follow:
1. Sage Erickson (USA) – 12720 points
2. Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) – 12200
3. Pauline Ado (FRA) – 8880
4. Rebecca Woods (AUS) – 8840
5. Alana Blanchard (HAW) – 8760
6. Sofia Mulanovich (PER) – 8640
The ASP 6-Star Women’s SATA Airlines Azores Pro was scheduled from September 27-30, 2012 in Sao Miguel, Azores Islands. For all results, photos, video highlights, press releases and LIVE webcast, log on to azores.aspeurope.com.
The SATA Airlines Azores Pro is organized by DAAZ Eventos and USBA (União de Surfistas e Bodyboarders dos Açores) with the support of the following event partners: SATA Airlines, do Turismo dos Açores, Câmara Municipal da Ribeira Grande, Sumol, Moche, and the participation of Hotel Vip Executive Açores, FUEL TV as official TV Channel, RFM, RTP, Jornal i, Surf Total, Surf Portugal and ONFIRE.
SATA AIRLINES AZORES PRO FINAL RESULTS:
1 – Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 16.76
2 – Pauline Ado (FRA) 11.90