The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Qualifying Series (WQS) 6-Star Sooruz Lacanau Pro got underway today at Lacanau in the South West of France, ten heats being completed throughout the day in contestable two foot (0.5 meter) waves. With an international field of 144 surfers having answered the call for the 30th anniversary of the oldest professional surfing event in Europe, the kick-off brought the first pulses of action with several surfers getting their French campaign in spectacular fashion.
Hodei Collazo (Zarautz, EUK), 25, was the first competitor of the 2009 edition to impress the ASP judging panel and post the day’s highest heat result, a two-wave combined score of 16.20 points (out of a possible 20) to advance through to Round 2 and join the event’s top seeds. Collazo, who hasn’t competed a lot this year due to an injury, came back to competition a couple of weeks ago in England and confirmed he was in good form today.
“I haven’t surfed since Newquay in England because the waves were pretty small,” Collazo said. “And I was pretty pumped to paddle out this morning for my first warm-up surf. I think I was just super motivated to compete today and I just let go to show what I could do.”
Collazo, who has had a few good results in Lacanau before, was at ease in the consistent though small waves breaking during the incoming tide and found his way through to Round 2 with an excellent 8.50 point ride, the day’s second best wave score.
“I thought it was a lot worse before paddling out but I got some fun sections to surf on and I had a good time out there,” Collazo said. “The wind wasn’t favorable but the sand bank is pretty well shaped and it delivered some surfable waves for sure. There is a bit of luck involved in this kind of conditions and things went my way.”
The Basque surfer, a longtime ASP WQS campaigner who peaked with an equal 5th at Newquay in 2008, remains one of Spain’s best surfing athletes along with Gony Zubizarreta (Vigo, ESP) and current ASP Top 45 member Aritz Aranburu (Zarautz, EUK). Collazo will meet with current ASP WQS No. 4 and surfing prodigy Owen Wright (Sydney, AUS), 19, experienced competitor Masatoshi Ohno (JPN) and California’s wunderkind Nat Young (USA).
Coming-up with excellent surfing today was last year’s Oakley Lacanau Pro Junior winner Miguel Pupo (BRA), 17, the Brazilian representative equaling Collazo’s 8.50 point ride to secure his Round 2 ticket and make his intentions clear for his return in the French surf town. Pupo, who started touring on the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) at the beginning of 2009, used his renowned progressive surfing to post several flying maneuvers and win the last heat of Day 1.
“It’s a great feeling to be back in Lacanau and start off with a start,” Pupo said. “Lacanau is like my second home, I love the people, the girls and the food here and I am enjoying my time. The waves were pretty small but still gave enough potential to surf well enough and I hope the expected new swell hits this coast by the end of the week.”
Pupo, who is one of the youngest surfers to compete full-time on the Grind, has already showed he had a serious potential at a few events this year, the Ubatuba native being ranked No. 53 before the Sooruz Lacanau Pro.
“I’ve had three good results this year already and I am definitely looking to do well here,” Pupo said. “I surfed well in Brazil and in the Maldives and a good finish here would be pretty special for me. Lacanau is a place I like coming to so I will see tomorrow and hopefully do good.”
With the glare making the judges’ vision almost impossible, contest director Cyril Camu was forced to call the event off after Heat 10 of Round 1, setting another call for Heat 11 tomorrow at 8.30 AM. With small but contestable waves expected for the next three days and a guarantee of seeing good surf in the four to six foot range hit Lacanau by Friday, all boxes are ticked for a good surf show running until August 23rd, 2009.
SOORUZ LACANAU PRO ROUND 1 RESULTS
Heat 1: Richard Christie (NZL) 15.84 pts, Mark Mathews (AUS) 11.93 pts, Madison Williams (AUS) 10.90 pts, Geoffroy Henno (FRA) 7.90 pts
Heat 2: Daniel Redman (ZAF) 11.83 pts, Alex Gray (USA) 9.83 pts, Heath Joske (AUS) 7.64 pts, Jason Harris (USA) 4.87 pts
Heat 3: Shaun Ward (USA) 12.90 pts, Nat Young (USA) 11.60 pts, Joaquim Guichard (DEN) 9.76 pts, Joao Guedes (PRT) 7.80 pts
Heat 4: Hodei Collazo (EUK) 16.20 pts, Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 12.30 pts, Gordon Fontaine (FRA) 10.30 pts, Eneko Acero (EUK) 6.40 pts
Heat 5: Dylan Graves (PRI) 11.20 pts, Vincent Duvignac (FRA) 10.50 pts, Ricardo Lange (DEU) 10.20 pts, Eric Rebiere (FRA) 8.10 pts
Heat 6: Eric Geisleman (USA) 11.27 pts, Che Stang (USA) 9.94 pts, Clancy Dawson (AUS) 8.20 pts, Omer Bar (ISR) 7.90 pts
Heat 7:Blake Wilson (AUS) 13.34 pts, Damien Chaudoy (REU) 12.27 pts, Alan Stokes (GBR) 8.97 pts, Cheyne Willis (HAW) 3.20 pts
Heat 8: Medi Veminardi (REU) 13.93 pts, Brent Dorrington (AUS) 13.53 pts, Marc Lacomare (FRA) 12.94 pts, Gustavo Fernandes (BRA) 11.97 pts
Heat 9: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 15.07 pts, Romain Laulhe (FRA) 14.56 pts, Chad Compton (USA) 10.77 pts, Mason Ho (HAW) 9.67 pts
Heat 10: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 16.67 pts, Brad Ettinger (USA) 13.23 pt, John John Florence (HAW) 6.57 pts, Chase Wilson (USA) 5.93 pts
SOURCE: ASP Europe