Remi Arauzo 

The Goanna Pro Tapia, an Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) Longboard Qualifying Series (LQS) 1-Star event, got underway today in Tapia, Spain, in four foot (1.2 meter) waves, the eight man-on-man battles of Round 1 bringing an impressive show of classic and progressive longboarding. Being the only event of the year so far on the 2009 ASP European Longboard Tour, the Goanna Pro Tapia is a crucial event that will determine the two wildcards from Europe going to the prestigious Oxbow World Longboard Tour (WLT) events, the equivalent of the ASP World Tour for male longboarders.

Remi Arauzo (FRA), who is one of Europe’s best longboarders, took control of the event posting an impressive 17.17 point heat tally (out of a possible 20) in Heat 3 to defeat other favourite Adam Griffith (GBR) and make his intentions clear towards the crown. Arauzo, who won came up with his custom made aggressive style linking radical cutbacks and vertical turns with the usual nose-rides, was unstoppable opening the exchange with an 8.00 point ride before ing the heat with a 9.17 wave (both out of a possible 10) as nineteen minutes were remaining.

"I am stoked to start the event like that, " Arauzo said. "It is such a great confidence boost to get things going the right way before next rounds and I am really looking forward to qualify for the Oxbow WLT, which is my main goal here, so I aim at making the final at least. I am also here to win the event though, which would be perfect."

Arauzo, who will now meet with outsider Lucien le Ray (FRA) in Quarterfinal No. 2, is seen as a serious contender for both the crown and the qualification.

Other in-form men of the day were British top longboarder Ben Skinner (GBR) and French Alexis Deniel (FRA), the British surfer securing his Quarterfinal ticket with a promising 15.37 point heat result (out of a possible 20), a great performance before going for the title. Deniel, who trained with Arauzo in California and surfed in an event in California where he placed 5th, was in good form and ended up with a 16.83 heat score (out of a possible 20) to advance.

"I am happy to make it through that heat that wasn’t an easy one," Deniel said. "I had a good feeling on my board and I am focused on that qualification. I know things are not going to be easy because everyone is here for that but I am ready and motivated."

Damien Castera (FRA) was the other favourite to advance, the fourth event top seed being able to get to the Quarterfinals easily. With both men and women ready to surf on Day 2 of the Goanna Pro Tapia tomorrow, the pressure will rapidly rise as there is a lot of pressure for the precious spots into the Oxbow WLT and Roxy Women’s World Longboard Championships (WWLC).

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Sofia Mulanovich 

Today, the Olympic Museum recognizes what surfers worldwide and Peruvians have known for years, Sofia Mulanovich is a hero. The Lausanne, Switzerland-based museum's exhibition called "Heroes" focuses on the athlete star system from different eras. Sofia represents the global heroes of modern times alongside Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Michael Phelps, Diego Maradona, Carl Lewis and Roger Federer.

"Even though surfing isn't in the Olympics yet, it is a true global sport and connects people worldwide," says Sofia Mulanovich. "It is a huge, but humbling honor to represent surfing on this global stage alongside the best athletes of all time."

Among the items being shown for Sofia will be a Red Bull Customized Channel Islands surfboard designed by a young fan in Peru during one of a series of the Red Bull Customized design contests, aka "Pimp my Board with Sofia series".  In addition to the board, the museum will display Sofia, the award-winning, 60-minute documentary on her influence on surfing in Latin American, it's awards, her Reef Signature Sandal and just a few of the trophies from the World Championship Tour.

This is the museum's biggest temporary exhibition of the year, exploring how an athlete can go beyond his or her sporting talents to become a political symbol, inspired inventor, icon of peace, source of inspiration, symbol of modesty or tragic figure. The athlete star system is a phenomenon, which is represented differently depending on the era, but whose mechanisms remain the same; from way back, champions have been roles models. "Heroes" runs throughout the summer in Lausanne.

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Jordy Smith 

Round 1 of the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach presented by Snickers was completed today in three-to-four foot (1 metre) waves in the Bells Bowl, and the implementation of the new format, rendering the opening round an elimination man-on-man affair, saw surfers lifting their competitive game to survive a dramatic day of action.

Event No. 2 of 10 on the 2009 ASP World Tour, the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach is a pivotal point in the season and today’s action saw 16 of the world’s best surfers sent packing after just one heat. Despite the criticalness of the format, some incredible performances were logged at the historic venue.

Jordy Smith (ZAF), 21, stamped his authority on today’s proceedings, eliminating highly-touted event wildcard Matt Wilkinson (AUS), 20, from Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach competition. The intercontinental clash was reminiscent of the two’s famed battles during their junior careers.

“I am really good friends with Matt (Wilkinson) and it felt like an old times junior heat out here,” Smith said. “I surfed my first overseas contest out here and it was against him. I was lucky the tide was a bit lower and it was walling up nice on the inside today.”

Smith’s mastery of the Bells Bowl today saw the young natural-footer attain the day’s highest heat total of an 18.70 out of a possible 20, securing two excellent-scoring rides for a blistering and fluid series of forehand maneuvers.

“My normal shortboard is 6’2 ½” and Bells is kind of a sloppier and longer face so I brought my 6’3 ½” and it tends to get through the flat spots a bit better,” Smith said. I surfed earlier this morning on the higher tide and struggled a bit so I was thankful for the low tide out there this afternoon.”

Smith will take on Damien Hobgood (USA), 29, in Round 2 when competition continues.

Owen Wright (AUS), 19, wildcard at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, caused the upset of the day, defeating incendiary American Dane Reynolds, 23, in Round 1 of competition.

“I am really happy,” Wright said. “I went out there knowing that I needed to get a wave under my belt straight up and put the pressure on him. I did that and got the wave, surfed it all the way through and managed to get a little back up.”

Wright’s tenacity and solid game plan provided him with the win over his marquee opponent and the young goofy-footer will need to employ the same tact as he continues here at Bells Beach.

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