SEIGNOSSE, France –The Quiksilver Pro France presented by Orange, Event No. 7 of 10 on the 2009 ASP World Tour, got back in motion today at the event’s main venue of Les Bourdaines in consistent-but-testing five-foot (1.5 metre) waves.
Battling against elements with strong currents coming into the equation, Round 2 competitors put on a show of strategic game plans and athletic skills, holding their line-up positions and taking off on fast-breaking five-to-six foot wave faces to grab their Round 3 tickets.
With most top seeds getting the job done in various ways, from solid scores to tight heat results, surprise came with the eliminations of highly-touted competitors Jeremy Flores (FRA), 21, and defending champion Adrian Buchan (AUS), 27, losing to Aritz Aranburu (EUK), 23, and ASP Dream Tour veteran Greg Emslie (ZAF), 32, respectively, creating the biggest upsets of the day.
Emslie eliminated Buchan in the dying minutes of their exchange, netting a solid 8.00 point score to stamp his authority and get away with the win. Emslie, ASP World No. 33, was able to catch-up with Buchan’s early lead using his experience and patience to wait for a good opportunity and rush to victory.
“It’s super challenging out there and I knew that we’d be getting 4s and 5s and it would come down to whoever got that one smoker,” Emslie said. “That wave came to me right at the end of the heat and was able to stand-up for me really well. I was stoked when I heard the score.”
Emslie, a former runner-up in the Quiksilver Pro France (2007), has not had any stellar results on tour this year, the South African sitting on four 17th places and a couple of 33rds, and will be looking to get through another few rounds to get back into the ASP Top 27, the re-qualifying group for next year’s ASP World Tour.
“For sure, I was definitely thinking about Ace winning here last year,” Emslie said. “I was also thinking about when I was in the Final the last time I came here to so that gave me a bit of confidence. I’m currently sitting 33rd right now, but Europe is a great place for you to bang out a few good results and if you can remain consistent, you can really make some ground up.”
Aranburu caused the other major upset of the day by eliminating current ASP World Tour No. 19, Flores, in Heat 8, and advancing through to Round 3 for the second time this year. Aranburu, who tamed the fast lefthanders of Les Bourdaines using his powerful and vertical backhand attack, led the exchange from start to finish to defeat national surf star Flores, peaking with a 7.50 point ride en route to victory.
“I was warming up my legs before the heat because I knew I would need them strong for the heat,” Aranburu said. “There are some heavy sections out there and you have to complete your maneuvers to get the bigger scores.”
Aranburu, who has finished a disappointing 33rd in all ASP World Tour events but one this year (in Tahiti where he reached the Semifinals), gave himself a bit of air today his result guaranteeing an equal 17th place finish at least in the Quiksilver Pro France. The only Basque surfer to ever qualify for the ASP World Tour, Aranburu’s backhand talent will be a threat to any of his upcoming opponents in the event.
“I knew Jeremy (Flores) would be really tough in these conditions,” Aranburu said. “Although he’s hurt a little bit, he’s still very dangerous out here. It’s an important part of the year for me. I have had only 33rds and one 3rd so I think 3 isn’t necessarily my lucky number. I’m happy to advance through to Round 3 and hopefully I can keep going.”
Kai Otton (AUS), 28, current ASP World No. 16, was another of today’s standouts, the renowned goofy-footer putting on a solid performance to oust ASP Dream Tour rookie Nathaniel Curran (California, USA), 25. Otton, who chose the inside lefthanders to show his skills to the ASP judging panel, surfed twelve waves throughout the 30-minute heat finding his rhythm despite the strong current washing down the beach.
“I just tried to keep busy, it is a tricky rip and there is a lot of water moving around and obviously I didn’t want to paddle against it and would rather catch waves. So that’s what I did, kept catching waves.”
Posting a convincing 14.26 point score to Curran’s low 5.17 point combination of two scores, Otton stuck to his game plan and will surf in Round 3 of the Quiksilver Pro France.
“Obviously I didn’t start very well this year but I feel I am in form now and surfing pretty good,” Otton said. “I had a good result at Jeffreys Bay and got through a few rounds at Trestles so it would be good to keep it going here. I love France and there’s some swell so it’s looking good.”
Event officials will re-assess conditions and make a call tomorrow at 7:30am for a possible 8am start.
First out will be Heitor Alves (BRA), 26, up against Jay Thompson (AUS), 26, when Round 2 of the Quiksilver Pro France resumes.
Highlights from today’s Quiksilver Pro France will be available at www.quiksilverlive.com