Charles Martin: from Guadeloupe with waves

The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) Nikita Pro Junior Sopelana today crowned both men’s and women’s champions during another long day of competitive surfing which saw Charles Martin (GLP) take the men’s title over Filipe Jervis (PRT), William Aliotti (FRA) and Ramizi Boukiam (MAR). While Alizee Arnaud (FRA) left her opponents battling for the minor placings in an overwhelming display of dominance.

Peaky 3ft (1m) waves were on offer during the day with event officials halting the event during the lower tide to allow the best conditions possible for the finals late this afternoon. Clear skies and perfect beach weather assured a huge crowd lining the shore. With the swell decreasing and a poor prediction for the following days organisers were forced to finish two days ahead of schedule.

Charles Martin (GLP) 20, may have entered the water for the 40-minute final a little pushed for time but this did little to hinder him getting off to a flying start opening his account with a 7.83 which he immediately backed up with an 8.83 out of a possible 10 to take the lead which he never surrendered.

Surfing from round one and focused on this his last year on the ASP Pro Junior Tour Martin has decided to concentrate on the remaining two ASP sanctioned Pro Junior events being held over the next two weeks to run for the ASP European Junior title and to secure his place on this year’s inaugural ASP World Junior Series to be held in Bali and Australia.

“I was in the car listening to music with a friend thinking I had enough time,” explained a smiling Martin about his sprint to the contest area. “Then when I was coming down the beach I heard the end of the girls final so I just ran to get my vest and they started celebrating the victory of Alizee so I had a little more time and I just got in the water and I caught that first wave and I was straight into a good rhythm.

“I got the first left that came in and that got me going,” continued Martin. “Then a few more came through and then it kind of went slower for the last part of the final. The two best waves of the final came straight to me so I was lucky,”

Event officials waited during the middle of the day for the tide to push in before running the finals which were held in some of the best waves of the entire event. Punchy beach breaks allowing for a variety of turns and manoeuvres on both the lefts and rights. Martin chose to destroy the right handers laying down some huge rail turns in front of the large crowd lining the shore.

“It was the best waves actually that I have surfed here at Sopelana and I am stoked to win in my first pro junior of the year and I hope to keep it going in the rest of the series. This is my last year as a pro junior so I have left the WQS for the moment and I want to concentrate on these next two events in Gran Canaria and Lacanau and just focus on the overall results so I get to do the World Junior Series this year”

Filipe Jervis (PRT) was one of the form surfers in the Nikita Pro Junior Sopelana in runner-up position ahead of William Aliotti (FRA) 16, who finished third in his first ever ASP pro junior event. Commenting a little about today’s result and playing down the tag of ‘wonder kid’ Aliotti was calmly pleased with his efforts.

“Today I am very happy with my third place in my first pro junior and with the surfing we saw today I enjoyed very much the contest and I want to do it again in the next one.”

Ramizi Boukiam (MAR) looked sharp throughout the contest with his lightening fast surfing and an ability to read the waves well above his age. Being in his first final and having a slow start the young goofy footer has come from the event gaining valuable finals experience.

“I am pretty stoked at the moment because this is my first pro junior final and the best I have done is a semi so this is the best result so far in my career. It was hard to get into the final up against guys like Charly and right at the start of the heat he gets two bombs and after that it was tough. He deserves his win because he is surfing really well here.”

“Before this final I was ninth on the ratings so with this finish I want to move up the list and maybe finish in the top 5 at the end of the series in August.”

Alizee Arnaud (FRA) 20, claimed the Nikita Girls Pro Junior Sopelana with a complete display of dominance from round one to the final where she left her opponents in a combination situation with a two wave total of 17.27 out of a possible 20. As evidence Arnaud claimed 8 of the 10 highest single scoring rides in the Nikita Girls Pro Junior Sopelana. Smashing a series of forehand cracks to obtain a near perfect 9.77 out of a possible 10 the quietly spoken natural-footer entered the water with her strategy of attack which ran to perfection.

“I knew with the tide that things could change so I took two waves at the beginning to try and take the lead and get started because after it was a little smaller. I want to be as high as I can on the ratings heading into Lacanau to be in the top two is great and it has given me confidence to try and win the European Junior title like two years ago.”

Maud Lecar (FRA) 18, finished runner up in her first ever ASP Pro Junior final ahead of current European Junior title holder Joanne Defay (FRA) and Marie Dejean (FRA) who placed fourth.

“It’s my first time in a pro junior final and I am very happy to get second place and to try and stay in the top 5 in Europe. Alizee is surfing so good and in the final she got that 9 point ride and she is surfing very strong so I was left fighting for second place against Joanne and we had a good fight for the second place.”

Medi Vemenardi (REU) and Alizee Arnaud (FRA) shared the added bonus of 1000 Euros for being overall best performers at the ASP sanctioned San Sebastian and Sopelana Pro Juniors proudly sponsored by Surfing Euskadi.

“It is a great surprise to receive this prize,” said Alizee Arnaud. “It was great to come to these two events in Euskadi and I will come back next time for sure and see all the people here and do my best to win again.”

Focused on the development of Euskadi as a premiere surf destination for the world's best surfers, Surfing Euskadi works closely with the surfing industry to promote the sport and support the improvement of its most promising talented athletes.

Heat 1: Charles Martin (GLP) 17.33, Filipe Jervis (PRT) 13.50, William Aliotti (FRA) 10.97, Ramizi Boukiam (MAR) 10.93

Heat 1: Alizee Arnaud (FRA) 17.27, Maud Lecar (FRA) 11.60, Joanne Defay (FRA) 10.60, Marie Dejean (FRA) 7.56

Jacksonville Beach: sharks like surfers

A 20 year old surfer was attacked by a shark at Jacksonville Beach, North Florida, USA.

Clayton Schultz needed more than 400 stitches in his foot. The shark tried to grab the surfer's leg.

Schultz managed to hop back on the surfboard and then another surfer helped him get back to the shore.

Tiger sharks are very often seen in the Gulf of Mexico. According to a study the chance of dying from a shark attack is 1 in 3.748.067.

Doctors believe Clayton Schultz was very lucky and that he will be back surfing in a few months.

US Open of Surfing: always mythic

The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) PRIME US Open of Surfing presented by Hurley and Nike 6.0 is just days away from kicking off its 2010 venue and with 33 ASP Dream Tour competitors in the men’s draw and the event boasting a women’s ASP 6-Star division, the highest level of professional surfing is guaranteed to unfold at South Huntington Beach Pier.

The 2010 US Open of Surfing is a marathon event that not only includes competitors from the Men’s ASP PRIME and Women’s ASP 6-Star event seeking ratings points to qualify for the prestigious ASP Dream Tour, but also holds the ASP Grade-2 US Open Junior Pro, which will showcase the nation’s finest men's and women's ASP Pro Junior talent hunting for a position of the inaugural ASP World Junior Tour.

Tanner Gudauskas (San Clemente, CA), 22, current ASP Dream Tour rookie, is ecstatic to compete alongside his fellow ASP World Title Race surfers in Huntington Beach and the young goofy-footer’s familiarity of the famous California beachbreak has him fired up to compete against the world’s best in familiar territory.

“The U.S Open is a really special event because it still draws the top of the Dream Tour but in the conditions of the Star events,” Gudauskas said. “It’s a fun time to play on a more even playing field in conditions where you feel comfortable. Growing up in Southern California, I have always looked forward to being a part of the US Open and this year is no different. I can't wait to put that jersey on and have a go!”

With thousands of spectators flocking to Huntington Beach Pier’s amphitheater, some competitors may find the uncharacteristic crowds unbearable, but Gudauskas feeds off of the crowd’s energy to battle through heats.

“I love the crowds,” Gudauskas said. “It gets me pumped up to know that there are so many people that are passionate about surfing and it makes me want to go out and try my hardest.”

Dane Gudauskas (San Clemente, CA), 24, suffered a vicious ankle injury while competing in Tasmania in late March, but after several months of rehabilitation, the powerful goofy-footer will be back in a jersey at this year’s US Open.

“In the Tasmania event I suffered a pretty severe ankle sprain and it kept me out of the water for three months,” Gudauskas said. “I’ve been back surfing for the better part of a month and I couldn't be more stoked to be surfing! The US open will be my first event back and I couldn't be looking forward to it more. Since I have been out of the water I’ve had my eyes on one thing, getting back in the jersey and competing at a high level. I’m feeling focused, healthy and I’m really looking forward to this event.”

Courtney Conlogue (Santa Ana, CA), 17, who is the defending US Open champion, is ready to defend her title, but despite being a local at Huntington Beach Pier, the up-and-coming regular-footer knows that her homebreak’s tricky characteristics make it anyone’s game.

“Every year is so different,” Conlogue said. “I obviously would love to make it as far as I can. I want to try and win again and get a good result, but Huntington is a tricky spot because the sandbars are always changing. It’s pretty much anyone’s ball game out there. I guess I have home field advantage because I get to sleep in my own bed, but I’m just trying to take it heat-by-heat and earn those points towards qualifying.”

Conlogue, who has been a standout amongst her international peers for several years now, has recently graduated and has her sights set on a spot on the ASP Women’s World Tour. With the US Open as the only women’s ASP Star event on the 2010 calendar in Mainland America, Conlogue is out to capitalize on the invaluable ratings points on offer to help her cause.

“This is my first year trying to qualify for the Women’s World Tour,” Conlogue said. “Trying to juggle both school and competition was challenging but now that I’ve graduated with top honors I feel like I’ve been able to dedicate equal time to both surfing and my education.”

Sage Erickson (Ventura, CA), 19, is one young talent who is competing in both the US Open of Surfing and the US Open Junior Pro and hopes that she can build momentum through the ASP Pro Junior division before tackling the globe’s best female surfing talent in the women’s ASP 6-Star event.

“ The level of Pro Junior competition is amazing and I’m so glad to be a part of it,” Erickson said. “I signed up for the Pro Junior knowing that it would be a good warm up for the 6-Star. Once you find your groove out at Huntington Beach you’re pretty unstoppable in each heat and I know that girls like Carissa (Moore) and Malia (Manuel) will push me in every department to surf my best and find that groove.”

Marquee names also competing for their piece of the impressive $250,000 prize purse in the ASP PRIME US Open of Surfing include nine-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (Cocoa Beach, FL), 38, reigning two-time ASP World Champion Mick Fanning (AUS), 29, three-time ASP World Champion Andy Irons (Hanalei, HI), 32, 2001 ASP World Champion C.J. Hobgood (Melbourne, FL), 31, three-time ASP World Champion and event wildcard Tom Curren (Santa Barbara, CA), 46, current ASP World No. 1 Jordy Smith (ZAF), 22, and American talent Dane Reynolds (Ventura, CA), 24.

Top names in the women’s ASP 6-Star event include reigning three-time ASP Women’s World Champion and former US Open of Surfing champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), 22, and former ASP Women’s World Champions Sofia Mulanovich (PER), 27, and Chelsea Hedges (AUS), 26, amongst others.