Romain Cloitre 

The ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) 5-Star San Miguel Pro Zarautz pres. by Euskaltel got closer to its much expected showdown today after another day of exciting action and clashes, the wind-blown three foot (one meter) waves not easing the remaining competitors’ mission. With world-class level definitely making the difference throughout the day and nine of the current ASP WQS Top 20 surfers still in contention for the crown and valuable ratings’ points, it was a show of excellent surfing and variety for the faithful Basque crowds and another successful heat for event best scorer and local hero Aritz Aranburu (EUK), 23.

From nine-pointers to excellent heat results, the whole repertoire of modern surfing was displayed by the remaining twenty-four competitors trying to grab their Man-on-man round tickets, the ASP judging panel rewarding sixteen men only including the day’s best performers Luke Munro (Gold Coast, AUS), Glenn Hall (IRL), Romain Cloitre (Les Roches Noires, REU) and Aritz Aranburu (Zarautz, EUK). With the domination of the Basque warrior leaving everyone behind before tomorrow’s showdown, fellow top athletes stepped-up to remind the local cheering crowds the battle was just starting for the crowning of the 2009 edition.

Romain Cloitre, 20, whose performance today showed again how the young Reunion Island born surfer was slowly but surely rising amongst the world’s best qualifiers, unleashed a series of vertical off-the-top re-entries on his backhand to send other newcomer Lincoln Taylor (AUS) and send former ASP Top 45 surfer Victor Ribas (BRA) packing. Posting a convincing win with a 16.67 point heat result (out of a possible 20) to advance through to Round 5 of competition, the young man will be lloking to keep his campaign going when he paddles out against other rising surfer Tanner Gudauskas (California, USA).

“The waves today were pretty similar to what I’ve been surfing at home in Reunion Island,” Cloitre said. “I couldn’t hear my scores out there and I just felt pretty relaxed and got these two waves back-to-back and just let my surfing flow. I was looking to do well and enjoy myself in that heat. Then the guys of the following heat paddled out and Jarrad (Howse) who was to surf next told me I was first which was pretty cool. I am super happy to get to the One-on-one heats again this year.”

Cloitre, a former ASP European Pro Junior champion, started touring on the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) in 2008 with no big success but got back in motion this year and since then, has been showing great determination and smart heat tactics to get the required points from the ASP judging panels around the world. Ranked No. 31 before Zarautz, Cloitre is looking a low result tomorrow knowing a No. 1 finish in the San Miguel Pro Zarautz would rocket him high in the ratings and put him in contention for the ASP World Tour qualification.

“I’ve had a great year and I am glad things have been going my way after my tough start in 2008,” Cloitre said. “I am trying to enjoy as much as I can and I am stoked to get a few results under my belt. I have been maintaining myself inside the ASP Top 50 for a few months now and I hope I can do well tomorrow. It’s heat by heat from now and I’ll take things relaxed and as they come.

Cloitre, who has had an excellent year placing 3rd in the ASP WQS 6-Star event in Portugal last April as well as a 5th in the ASP WQS 6-Star Prime in the Maldives, managed to get to Round 5 today for another step towards a possible ASP World Tour qualification.

After a series of shocker losses in the first events of the European leg, Luke Munro (Gold Coast, AUS), 26, eventually managed to get in rhythm and secure his spot inside the last sixteen-man group of contenders for the title. Sitting 16th before his trip to Zarautz, Munro is already guaranteed to better his lowest result counting for his ASP Top 45 requalification campaign but the Australian and former elite member will be looking for a win tomorrow, an even more special goal for his first time in the Basque surf town.

“The tide was dead high and the wind dropped so it was okay for our heat,” Munro said. “It’s my first time here in Zarautz and we’ve been having a good time, trying different tapas-bars every day and the people are very nice. It’s been pretty hard for me since I got to Europe so it’s good to get things back on a roll and I am looking to do well tomorrow. A big result would really be significant for my ranking so I’ll see how it goes.”

Shining again in front of his home crowds, ASP Top 45 member Aritz Aranburu broke all records posting both best heat and wave scores of the San Miguel Pro Zarautz to show how confident he was at his home break. With a 17.37 point score including an impressive 9.60 point ride, Aranburu managed again to get the “right place right time” combination and catch the best waves of the day to best fellow ASP World Tour surfer Michael Picon (Capbreton, FRA), 30, and defeat Leonardo Neves (BRA).

“Things are going well so far and I am feeling pretty good while competing,” Aranburu said. “I am already starting to get ready for Trestles coming up next week so I am relaxed about the event here and I am stoked to score well and get a good feeling before heading there. Surfing at home is always special and I hope tomorrow can be even better.”

With Irish surfer Glenn Hall (IRL) wrapping-up the show with a great performance netting 16.27 points in the last couple waves of his heat, everyone could go and rest before the world-class showdown starting at 9.30 AM Saturday, September 5, 2009.

The ASP WQS 5-Star San Miguel Pro Zarautz pres. by Eusklatel is webcast LIVE at www.aspeurope.com, where all news, photos and results are available.

SAN MIGUEL PRO ZARAUTZ ROUND 5 UPCOMING HEATS
Heat 1: Aritz Aranburu (EUK) Vs Nathan Yeomans (USA)
Heat 2: Michael Picon (FRA) Vs Leigh Sedley (AUS)
Heat 3: Blake Thornton (AUS) Vs Lincoln Taylor (AUS)
Heat 4: Tanner Gudauskas (USA) Vs Romain Cloitre (REU)
Heat 5: Patrick Gudauskas (USA) Vs Dion Atkinson (AUS)
Heat 6: Daniel Redman (ZAF) Vs Gony Zubizarreta (ESP)
Heat 7: Adam Melling (AUS) Vs Luke Munro (AUS)
Heat 8: Glenn Hall (IRL) Vs Austin Ware (USA)

SAN MIGUEL PRO ZARAUTZ ROUND 4 RESULTS
Heat 1: Aritz Aranburu (EUK) 17.37 pts, Michael Picon (FRA) 12.67 pts, Leonardo Neves (BRA) 12.23 pts
Heat 2: Sedley Leigh (AUS) 14.00 pts, Nathan Yeomans (USA) 9.40 pts, Heath Joske (AUS) 3.97 pts
Heat 3: Blake Thornton (AUS) 13.10 pts, Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 10.30 pts, Marco Polo (BRA) 8.56 pts
Heat 4: Romain Cloître (FRA) 16.67 pts, Lincoln Taylor (AUS) 13.60 pts, Victor Ribas (BRA) 11.17 pts
Heat 5: Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 12.24 pts, Daniel Redman (ZAF) 12.03 pts, Jarrad Howse (AUS) 10.56 pts
Heat 6: Gony Zubizarreta (ESP) 12.67 pts, Dion Atkinson (AUS) 11.67 pts, Nick Riley (AUS) 11.54 pts
Heat 7: Adam Melling (AUS) 15.77 pts, Austin Ware (USA) 13.83 pts, John John Florence (HAW) 10.90 pts
Heat 8: Glenn Hall (IRL) 16.27 pts, Luke Munro (AUS) 16.23 pts, Patrick Beven (FRA) 10.67 pts


SOURCE: ASP Europe