Laura Enever: never, ever gives up

Laura Enever (AUS) 18, today claimed her maiden ASP Women’s Star-Series victory with a come-from-behind win over Courtney Conlogue (USA) 18, at the Billabong Azores Islands Women’s Pro presented by Nissan an Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) sanctioned event.

Waves in the 1-2ft (0.5m) range were on offer with the occasional bigger set coming through. After waiting for the tide to lower event officials gave the green light to start with clear skies and light off-shore winds making small but ideal conditions for the 35-minute final.

After watching her opponent get off to a flying start Laura Enever clawed her way back into the final using her priority to nail a 9.17 out of a possible 10 to escape from a combination situation and place herself within striking distance of the Billabong Azores Islands Women’s Pro title. With 5 minutes remaining both girls had an exchange which Enever came out on top with another excellent 8.17 point ride to turn the tables on Conlogue.

“Courtney got a couple of quick scores up on me and she had me needing a combination of scores for quite a while and I couldn’t actually find one but then I got that 9 point ride and I knew that I could do it which I eventually did backing up it up with another good score so I was really happy in the end. It was really cool because I had a whole lot of guys supporting me so it felt really good to win the final and do it for them.”

“I knew that if I got two turns in I would be able to get a score,” continued Enever. “So that was what I was looking for and I needed only a low score so I waited for another one to come in because it would have been pretty stupid of me to have lost it from there so I am really stoked with the way it all worked out.”

Claiming her first ASP Women’s Star-Series title Enever was ecstatic with her win and thankful for all the support from friends on the shoreline. Her best result so far this year the 3000 points will definitely boost her higher on the ASP Women’s World rankings.

“It’s my first Star-Series final and my first win ever so at the moment I am sitting in 3rd position on the rankings so this will push me up and I am really looking forward to the next event in Spain and hopefully I can back it up there with another result.”

“Actually I was thinking how angry the boys on the beach would be if I lost by a combination,” explained Enever about how she was feeling at the half way stage of the final. “Especially after all the coaching they have been giving me the past couple of days. So I knew I had to get a good wave out there to show them what I can do and I ended up getting that 9 and it got me on a bit of a roll and I just waited for another good one.”

Courtney Conlogue (USA) despite getting off to a flying start knew she had her work cut out for her to maintain the lead in such tricky conditions. Set waves were hard to find and priority played a major role in who would take out the title. Her runner-up finish is her best for this season and Conlogue remains focused on making her way into the ASP Women’s World Tour 2011.

“I never felt I had the win in my hand especially in a 35-minute final and I have seen it happen in so many finals that I knew in these kind of waves you never know what is going to come in and when to have priority and how to hold it because it is a gamble out there. I tried to perform my best in the waves we had and try make something out of nothing.”

“Coming into this event I really needed these points,” stated Conlogue. “To get to the final is what I wanted to achieve and to win it would have been a bonus for me. I tried my best to impress the judges even though it was really tough to make it look fun.”

Possibly the most tactical final Conlogue has surfed in, the young natural-footer from Santa Ana, California, felt that with time and experience these types of situations will became part of her surfing.

“It was definitely a tough final and I went out there trying to play it smart which I think I did but Laura maintained priority on that one left that came through and that gave her momentum and confidence to keep attacking. Just knowing when to hold and when to use priority will come to me and after time my judgement and second nature will help me with that. This is all just practice to try and qualify for the world tour and hopefully I will be able to put on a show of what I can actually do on a good wave.”

Heat nº16 of round one of the Billabong Azores Islands Pro presented by Nissan was also completed leaving the scene set for a marathon final day of the official waiting period as contest officials plan on running split banks in an attempt to finish the event. The forecast looks promising for an increase in swell overnight and a call has been made for 07:00am for a possible start shortly after.

1 – Laura Enever (AUS) 17.34
2 – Courtney Conlogue (USA) 13.83

Billabong Pro Teahupoo: they promise heavy stuff

Event No. 5 of 10 on the 2010 ASP World Tour, the Billabong Pro Teahupoo, boasts a venue largely considered one of the most dangerous waves on the planet, and with solid swells projected and the added pressure of the mid-year ASP field reduction, this season’s Billabong Pro Teahupoo is turning into one of the heaviest events in history.

Culminating the first half of the 2010 ASP World Tour, the Billabong Pro Teahupoo will be the final opportunity for the ASP Top 45 to secure the results needed to finish in the Top 32 on the ASP World Title rankings. Following the event in Tahiti, only the Top 32 ranked surfers will continue on throughout the back half of the season.

Tom Whitaker (AUS), 30, is into his eighth season amongst the world’s elite, but a slow start in 2010 could see the Sydney-sider slip off the ASP World Tour following the Billabong Pro Teahupoo.

“The waves have been pretty fun this year and some great surfing has been going down,” Whitaker said. “Obviously, I have not got through as many heats as I would have liked, but that’s surfing – be patient and hopefully the waves will come.”

Currently ranked No. 33 on the ASP World Title rankings, Whitaker is confident in his abilities at the infamous break, and admits that his biggest concern will be missing his newborn son.

“The goal is to move up and get tubed,” Whitaker said. “I’m trying not to get too focused on the cutoff, just keep it simple and enjoy. Being away from my new son Finn is probably going to be the biggest challenge. It always takes a while to run the contest over there. Hopefully it’s pumping – that will make the contest really cool for the guys at the back fighting for the cut and for the finals day.”

Jeremy Flores (FRA), 22, currently ranked No. 24 on the ASP World Title rankings, is into his fourth season amongst the world’s best surfers, and despite feeling relatively safe from the mid-year cut-off, admits to his slow start to 2010 playing with his confidence.

“This is kind of new for me,” Flores said. “I've always started the year well at the first few events, but not this year. I was injured last year. I did everything to be back healthy and in good form. I felt really good physical all year, but I've been struggling a lot trying to find some good board. I've been trying to change my dimensions and stuff, but it’s tough. However, I feel good in Tahiti. I love left barrels so hopefully I'll do something good there.”

Patrick Gudauskas (USA), 24, currently ranked No. 33 on the ASP World Title rankings, has been one of the rookies faced with enduring a harsh learning curve in 2010. Formerly offered the opportunity of a whole season to figure things out at the highest level of competition, this season’s rookies have had to perform quickly or face the cut-off.

“My rookie year thus far has been all about learning,” Gudauskas said. “With every heat under my belt, I feel more confident and comfortable heading into the next one. I haven't had the breakout result I expected, but I believe I am capable of it. I think in part it's due to getting more and more experience at the different waves. Plus a few tight losses going to the veterans. I'm not beat up as much as I just feel energetic at another chance to show my stuff.”

Despite the necessity for a solid result, Gudauskas remains positive of the situation and in his ability to perform at Teahupoo.

“I love challenges,” Gudauskas said. “Sitting behind the cutoff, I'm excited for the challenge heading into Tahiti. I'm preparing my best for it and looking forward to putting it all on the line. The biggest challenge will probably be just getting in rhythm with the lineups and making sure you get onto the best pits. Time to get some quality time in the green room.”

Ben Dunn (AUS), 24, into his fourth season on the ASP World Tour, is currently sitting No. 38 on the ASP World Title rankings and faces the possibility of falling outside the world’s elite in Tahiti. An able performer in all conditions, Dunn is avoiding thoughts of the cut-off until the Billabong Pro Teahupoo is finished.

“I’m trying not to think about that too much,” Dunn said. “Tahiti is an easy place to do well and it’s an easy place to lose. You just need to get the best waves and get pitted. If it’s big, it’s different. I’m just going to try to get the best pits and win my heats.”

Nate Yeomans (USA), 28, is another rookie who has had to deal with the harsh learning curve this year, and will need a major result in Tahiti if he is to keep his spot amongst the world’s best.

“It’s been a huge adjustment, but I feel I have been improving with each event,” Yeomans said. “So the cutoff after five events is a bit rough for the rookies. It’s just a whole new level of surfing and a different format. It hasn’t been ideal for me, but I’m really looking forward to Tahiti. I’ve been there about eight times so I have had some experience in that lineup. It’s such a heavy wave that if you haven’t been before, I think it would totally blow you away.”

Currently ranked No. 40 on the ASP World Title rankings, Yeomans understands what it takes to win out at Teahupoo and will put everything on the line to keep his dream alive.

“Getting the right waves is crucial out there,” Yeomans said. “That event out of all the events (besides maybe Pipe) seems that you have to be patient and choose your waves wisely. If you’re not on the best waves out of the 25 minutes, the chances are you’re probably going to lose.”

A full breakdown of ASP World Title Rankings possibilities for the Billabong Pro Teahupoo are available at

Surfline, official forecasters for Billabong Pro Teahupoo, are already suggesting that excellent surf is promising. The Air Tahiti Nui VonZipper Trials is expected to start promptly on Monday morning in eight-to-ten foot waves according to Surfline’s expert swell forecaster, Sean Collins.

“The swell will be generated from a very close storm to the south, about 600 miles below Tahiti,” says Collins. “The peak day will be Sunday with the largest sets in the 12-foot range, allowing all trials competitors to warm up in some serious surf. Monday should still be in the eight-to-ten foot range.”

Thirty-two of the world’s foremost tube riders and big-wave specialists will compete in the trials, along with 32 local invitees. Just two surfers are guaranteed a wildcard from there into the Billabong Pro, Tahiti main event.

The waiting period for the Billabong Pro Teahupoo will begin Monday, August 23 and run through September 3, 2010.

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