Charles Martin: party time

Charles Martin (GLP), 20, has won the ASP Grade-2 Oakley Pro Junior Lacanau today after defeating Hossegor native Pierre-Valentin laborde (FRA) in the 30-minute final in consistent three-foot (one meter) waves. Martin, with his second consecutive win in Lacanau, grabs the ASP European Junior men’s crown and will lead the regional ratings’ Top 4 into the ASP World Junior Tour events.

Martin was in superb form throughout the final day letting his best surfing speak to score the event’s best wave in the Semifinals before letting no chance to to fellow finalist Laborde in the final thanks to an accurate wave choice and solid tactics. With two wins in three events (Sopelana and Lacanau) and an equal 5th finish, Martin was by far the best on tour this season.

“It’s just all I was hoping for and it’s done,” Martin said. “I was so focused on taking the title to finish off my ASP Pro Junior career and I really tried hard not to make any mistake and secure the better waves all day. Winning last year here made me feel comfortable today because I was confident and felt I knew where the waves would be breaking. I am really happy.”

Martin, a former ASP World Junior No. 3 (2008) and considered France and Europe’s best hope towards a possible ASP World Tour elite inception in the upcoming years, confirmed he was ready to move on to the ASP Star and Prime Series where he will now have to face some of the world’s best to keep his career going.

“That title is a new start actually because it’s now time for me to move onto the Asp Star events,” Martin said. “To wrap-up part 1 of my career this way is great but there is a lot to come and it will be tough. I’ve been preparing a lot, training and putting my game together to secure this event and I feel ready now.”

With Lacanau’s central beach sand bank delivering quality waves all day, the Oakley Pro Junior lived-up to its reputation once again giving Europe’s best Under-21 male surfers a playfull line-up to deliver their best, runner-up Laborde shininh all the way to the final with his rapid-fire back-hand attacks.

“I am disappointed with the final because the waves lacked and I couldn’t get that one score,” Laborde said. “I gave it my all, went as vertical as possible, pushed my backside turns as far as I could but it just wasn’t enough. It is my best result though and it still feels good to wrap-up the season with a final.”

Laborde, a longtime top ranked European surfer and former ASP World Junior No. 5 (2007), suffered a tough year lacking a bit of luck and not finding his rhythm over the summer. His runner-up finish today pushes the Hossegor resident back into good form that will bring him confidence for his 2011 run, his final year as a junior competitor.

“I had a shocker this year and just felt out of rhythm the whole time,” Laborde said. “I had no pressure today knowing I was too far away from the Top 4 so I just enjoyed the event and had a good time surfing through to the final. I am already looking at next year and hope I’ll be able to get back to my best.”

Finshing No. 2 on the ASP European Junior ratings for his best career finish ever, Filipe Jervis will be backing Martin along with Moroccan Ramzi Boukhian (Agadir, MAR), 17, and Tom Cloarec (Hossegor, FRA), 16, at the upcoming ASP World Junior Tour events of Bali and Narabeen.

With the final regional ratings’ Top 4 and still-to-be-decided two regional wildcards, Team Europe will be a favourite towards a possible ASP World Junior title this year, Martin being much expected for his last chance.

1st, Charles Martin (GLP), 11.17
2nd, Pierre Valentin Laborde (FRA), 9.84

1st, Charles Martin (GLP), Qualifies for the 2010 ASP World Junior Tour
2nd, Filipe Jervis (PRT), Qualifies for the 2010 ASP World Junior Tour
3rd, Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR), Qualifies for the 2010 ASP World Junior Tour
4th, Tom Cloarec (FRA), Qualifies for the 2010 ASP World Junior Tour
5th, Igor Muniain (EUK)
6th, Medi Veminardi (REU)
8th, Pierre Valentin Laborde (FRA)
8th, Edouard Delpero (FRA)
10th, Damien Chaudoy (REU)

Coco Ho: what a great year, surfer girl

Coco Ho (North Shore,HI), 19, won the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) Grade-4 Supergirl Pro Junior with a come-from-behind win over fellow finalists Malia Manuel (Kauai, HI), 16, Lakey Peterson (Santa Barbara, CA), 15, and Leila Hurst (Kauai, HI) 16, at South Oceanside Pier to take out the richest prize purse in Women’s ASP Pro Junior surfing history.

Surfers competing on the ASP North America Pro Junior Series are out to finish atop their regional ratings to qualify for the inaugural ASP World Junior Tour. Once qualified, they earn the right to battle the globe’s finest competitive 20-and-under talent for the title of ASP World Junior Champion.

Ho got off to a slow start in the Final matchup, but battled through the small conditions to surpass Manuel in the back half of the heat to take out the Supergirl Pro Junior victory and $10,000, the richest 1st place prize purse in women’s ASP Pro Junior surfing history.

“I’m beyond ecstatic,” Ho said. “To surf a few heats and win $10,000 is amazing and I’m heading to Mexico tonight with my best friends so it’s been a great day.”

The impressive win earned by Ho plants her atop the ASP North America Pro Junior Series ratings, but due to her commitments on the ASP Women’s World Tour, the talented Hawaiian may not be able to represent her region on this year’s ASP World Junior Tour.

“It feels great to be on top of the junior ratings,” Ho said. “I don’t think I’ll be able to go to Bali because of the Women’s Tour overlapping, but I’m sure Malia (Manuel) or Leila (Hurst) will do a great job of representing Hawaii.”

Manuel, who smashed some of the event’s highest scores, launched out to a strong start in the Final, but was unable to stop Ho. The second place finish solidifies the young Hawaiian in the No. 2 position on the ASP North America Pro Junior Series ratings, allowing her to represent Hawaii at the inaugural ASP World Junior Tour.

“This Final was amazing and congratulations to Coco (Ho),” Manuel said. “I think this result qualifies me for the World Junior Championships in Bali and I’m really looking forward to that.”

Peterson, who was a standout at this year’s ASP 6-Star US Open of Surfing, started strong in her early heats, but was unable to find a rhythm in the Final and finished third overall.

“I’m not disappointed in the result at all,” Peterson said. “It was a tough heat and I think I just need to get more experience. I feel like I’ve had a good go on the Pro Junior series this year though. It was my first year competing and it’s been good.”

The Santa Barbara native’s result at the ASP Grade-4 event pushes Peterson to No. 3 on the ASP North America Pro Junior Series, making her the highest rated North American surfer on the regional ratings, qualifying her for this year’s ASP World Junior Tour.

“I’d be really excited to go to Bali,” Peterson said. “I’m really looking forward to doing the ASP Pro Junior series for a few more years and I’m looking forward to it.”

Supergirl Pro Junior Final Results:
1 – Coco Ho (HAW)
2 – Malia Manuel (HAW)
3 – Lakey Peterson (USA)
4 – Leila Hurst (HAW)

Azores Islands Pro: bad luck, next year it will surely pump

The Billabong Azores Islands Pro presented by Nissan an Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) sanctioned event was forced to cancel due to a lack of contestable waves.

Event officials and surfers were greeted at dawn by a flat ocean as the expected overnight swell increase failed to eventuate. Contest director Rodrigo Heredia made another call mid-morning however this proved fruitless leaving the remaining 96 surfers of round two unable to compete further in the 145,000$US event.

Despite all attempts made by Rodrigo Heredia to complete the event or at least advance through some more rounds the absolute flat conditions made it impossible to start round two.

Heredia who has been coming to the Azores all his life has never seen such conditions for such a long period of time. Remaining positive and helping both event officials and surfers as much as possible during the entire event Heredia received no criticism for any of his decisions.

“We waited as long as we could to try and get a result and do the right thing by the surfers but there was no chance of running the event on double banks today because it is unsurfable. We have studied the option of extending the waiting period and finishing tomorrow however the forecast is not looking good either. This is not a usual situation here to have no swell but this year ‘El Niño’ is causing this flat spell and I hope it doesn’t happen again here or in any other of the contest sites in the world”

Looking on the positive side of things Heredia reminded us of what has been accomplished at the Billabong Azores Islands Pro presented by Nissan.

“We ran as much of the event as we could and we had a winner, Laura Enever in the Billabong Azores Islands Women’s Pro and we completed the first round of the men’s event. We are looking at changing the dates of the event next year to September when we are guaranteed waves.”

“I think everyone understands the situation we are in and for this to happen in the Azores is better than in other places because at least this is an amazing place to visit, to travel around these beautiful islands and it is something that all the surfers agree on.”

Acting surfer’s rep Jay Thompson (AUS) summed up the general feeling of the surfers remaining in round two. Knowing that all competitors were fighting for the crucial points on offer for the ASP world rankings Thompson was optimistic about the future of the event and felt for all the surfers.

“It is unfortunate that we couldn’t finish the event but that is part of running surf contests that sometimes Mother Nature doesn’t help us out with the waves. It’s one of those situations that you can’t control and it is out of our hands. It’s a beautiful place and if we had a little swell this week it would have been good but we just have to take the positive things out of the situation and look forward to next year here again.”

“It has been a great event,” continued Thompson. “Everyone has been making the most of their time here on the island so it is a shame to not finish because it was a very crucial event for all the boys but I have managed to get in a lot of training and underwater swims for my next contest in Tahiti so it has helped me prepare for that.”

Iain Buchanan, ASP Europe regional head judge, found himself in a situation for only the second time after over 10 years of working on events in Europe. Former competitor on the ASP World Tour, Buchanan completely understood what was going through the minds of event staff and surfers faced with not being able to conclude the contest.

“The forecast we were hoping for didn’t eventuate and we are faced with basically a flat ocean and not even showing signs of what we started in yesterday with the women’s final. It has been a huge effort by Rodrigo (Heredia) to put this event on and the support from Billabong as well to try and get a result for all the surfers.”

“We needed at least 4 hours of waves to complete at least one more round of competition,” explained Buchanan. “What we have now and checking the marine forecasts it is impossible today to get that amount of time so the decision to not continue was taken.”

Dave Mailman, ASP Europe President, was on hand at the Billabong Azores Islands Pro presented by Nissan to witness how the event was run and to see firsthand all the effort put into the event by Rodrigo Heredia and Billabong. Disappointed that a champion was not crowned in 2010 Mailman has already started to work on next year’s edition and is certain that the Billabong Azores Islands Pro has a big future as one of the main contests on ASP Europe’s event calendar.

“These are unfortunate circumstances that we never want to see happen and for all the surfers and ASP staff and for Rodrigo Heredia too. He has done a great job getting this contest rolling last year and keeping it rolling this year and ASP is doing all it can to change the dates for 2011 to make sure we are in a better wave window. When there is no surf there is nothing we can do about it and everyone understands and is cool about it and we will be back next year for sure.”