Vans Pro Junior
Grade 1 Men’s ASP Junior Event
San Sebastian Basque Country
July 25, 2008: – - It was antoher day of intense action at the ASP Grade-1 Vans Pro Junior with all Round 3 remaining heats and Round 4 being completed in the two foot (0.5 meter) waves on offer at San Sebastian.
From newcomers to favorites, all under-21 surfers still in contention for the crown paddled out in front of a massive cheering crowd to try and advance through to Round 5 which will feature eight four-man battles when competition resumes tomorrow.
Damien Chaudoy (REU), 18, was today’s best performer in the Basque waters of San Sebastian. Chaudoy, one of three Reunion Island born surfers currently in the regional ratings’ Top 10, posted an impressive 17.50 point heat score (out of a possible 20) including an excellent 9.33 point ride (out of a possible 10) to advance through to Round 5 where he will meet Medi Veminardi (REU), Justin Delanne (FRA) and Yann Martin (GLP).
“I feel really well after this great start in the event”, Chaudoy said. “I am usually not at ease in such small waves but I had the bombs and it went really well. I was able to pull a couple of new school tricks during the heat and I love to have the opportunity to do so.”
Chaudoy, who is chasing his maiden qualification for the ASP World Junior Championships (WJC) this year, is currently rated No. 7 and hopes for a good result in the Vans Pro Junior to jump back in the leading pack (Top 5 surfers automatically qualify for the ASP WJC).
“I am confident and I will not be looking at any figures or names”, Chaudoy said. “I don’t even know who I will be surfing against in Round 5, I will find out tomorrow and just surf my best. I will try and keep this approach all season.”
Maxime Huscenot (REU), 16, current ASP European Junior leader and winner of the ASP Grade-4 Santa Surf Pro Junior in the Canary Islands in June, was much expected for his start in the Vans Pro Junior and the natural footer (left foot in front on his board) did not miss his opening heat. Huscenot easily won his Round 4 battle finishing with a solid 14.84 point heat tally (out of a possible 20) including an excellent 8.13 point ride (out of a possible 10).
“I was a bit under pressure yesterday because I haven’t been in excellent form lately”, Huscenot said. “The sand bank is not that great but there was potential to get things done today. I focused on my wave choice very carefully and tried to get all maneuvers done well.”
Huscenot, who has been dominating the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) European Junior Tour since the beginning of the year, has all chances to conquer his maiden ASP regional title this year and knows the upcoming events will be crucial.
“I am not stressed or anyhting but I want to have fun and enjoy my time”, Huscenot said. “I am not used to surfing such slow conditions but I have some larger boards so I guess it will do. I hope we can still have some contestable waves this weekend.”
Pierre-Valentin Laborde (FRA, pictured), a former ASP World Junior No. 5 and usual Top 10 regional athlete, was another standout on Day 2 of the Vans Pro Junior. Laborde, 17, who is seen as one of the most promissing French competitors, destroyed the small tricky conditions to best outsider and serious title contender Eduardo Fernandes (PRT).
“I was stoked to start the heat with an 8.33 straight away”, Valentin said. “It was a great boost for my confidence and it helped me win this first heat today. The atmosphere is crazy here and the huge crowds around makes it fantastic.”
Laborde, who missed the qualification for the 2007 ASP World Junior Championships last year after finishing 7th on the overall European ratings, aims at a Top 5 finish this year and will be a serious contender for the Vans Pro Junior crown. “I would love to make the final at least”, Valentin said. “I don’t want to put any pressure on myself but I have a good old board for these waves and I feel I can surf good. I will take it heat after heat.”
The current domination of French under-21 surfers over ASP’s European ratings was confirmed again today as all favorites including Jules Thomet (FRA), Marc Lacomare (FRA) and Medi Veminardi (REU) managed to get through their respectve heats. Lacomare, who clinched the ASP Grade-3 Rip Curl Pro Junior in Portugal at the beginning of the season, is looking for another solid result this year to get back in the title’s race.
Yesterday’s high scorer Igor Muniain (EUK) lost in a low scoring heat. Muniain, who flew the Basque flag with an impressive 16.50 point heat score on Day 1 of the Vans Pro Junior, was eliminated by Joachim Guichard (DEN) and Justin Delanne (FRA) in the small conditions not suiting his surfing.
Jatyr Berasaluce (EUK), current ASP European Junior No. 5 and best Basque surfer of the season so far, found his way out of Round 4 as well and will be the crowd’s favorite when Round 5 resumes tomorrow. All 32 remaining competitors will meet at Noon (GMT+2) Saturday, July 26.