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.”

Guillaume Mangiarotti: a future airline pilot

Guillaume Mangiarotti (Hossegor, FRA), 20, has won the ASP Europe Specialty Rip Curl Air Show pres. by Renault in Hossegor last night, the local star grabbing USD 4000 for his flying performance after defeating runner-up Naum Ildefonse (Biarritz, FRA) in the final.

Mangiarotti, a longtime ASP Pro Junior competitor and progressive surfer, took the best out of the two-foot shore-break waves breaking at Hossegor’s Central beach in front of thousands of people cheering the unique jet-ski tow-out show at night, topping big names Tim Boal (Anglet, FRA), Frederic Robin (Capbreton, REU), Indonesian star Dede Suryana (Bali, IDN), Abdel El Harim (Rabat, MAR), Pablo Gutierrez (Santander, ESP) big wave charger Benjamin Sanchis (Hossegor, FRA).

“It’s great to surf in front of thousands of people at my home break and I am super happy I won,” Mangiarotti said. “We don’t get much opportunity to do tow-out surfing and eventhough the conditions were small it was just a great event. I had so much fun and to finish first makes it really special.”

Used to tow-in surfing whenever Hossegor’s world famous big wave spot of La Nord turns on, Mangiarotti was at ease behind the machine using his experience to find the best launching ramps and take-off for some spectacular moves.

“You just want to let go any possible trick when you are left with that much speed and I tried to push my limits but land my tricks as well,” Mangiarotti said. “I hope this kind of event happens more often because it is different and popular.”

In second edition and with once again an impressive crowd coming down to the beach despite the tricky conditions, the Rip Curl Air Show delivered its fresh contest format with a mix of music and spectacular surfing, the explosive cocktail adding another great asset to surfing’s action-packed summer leg in Europe at the moment.

“It was a successful edition again and the surfers gave their best to deliver an impressive show,” event manager Arnaud Decarne said. “We’re already looking at changing a few details and make sure we step-up again for next year but we are definitely very happy with the result and it’s great to see all the surfers and crowds enjoy the thing that much.”

While the ASP Star and Prime Series are currently raging in Europe, the Rip Curl Air Show brought a variety of world-class surfers – competitors, free-surfers, big wave chargers – to Hossegor’s beaches giving French summer crowds a different pro surf spectacle.