Pantin Classic 2008 

After a day of travel from Portugal, the first competitors of the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Qualifying Series (WQS) 5-Star Movistar O’Neill Pantin Classic were able to get their Spanish campaign underway in good four to five foot (1.2 to 1.5 meter) waves. Round 1 was completed and 10 heats of the second round were done today offering some excellent and promissing levels of surfing.

With less entries than on the previous events, proceedings got into serious clashes straight away and some renowned names who have already shined this summer in Europe had their go on Day 1 of competition.

Wiggoly Dantas (BRA), 18, who won the ASP WQS 5-Star event in England and placed equal 9th in the ASP WQS 6-Star contest in Portugal last week, lost no time to remind his opponents of his good form and improving surfing. Dantas, who arrived a month ago out of the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) Top 100, now sits No. 55 and will once again be a potential giant killer when he reaches Round 3.

"It is good to have some consistent waves and be able to have fun competing," Dantas said. "It was hard in the last event but I was stoked to make it that far. It looks like Pantin is going to be big and today was already solid enough to get some scores so it is really good."

Dantas, who posted an excellent 9.33 point ride out of a possible 10 in his first encounter of the day, managed to get through Round 2 after placing second in Heat 8 of Round 2.

Dantas was not the only Brazilian to shine on Day 1 of competition as fellow coutryman and current WQS No. 10 Pedro Henrique (BRA) came up with two strong performances winning both his heats after starting in Round 1 due to a late entry. Henrique, who placed equal 9th in Portugal last sunday, was on fire in the consistent surf and will be looking for another keeper for his ratings’ total in Pantin.

"I am so stoked to already have these two heats out of the way," Henrique said. "I was not planning to come here but I decided to enter while in Portugal knowing I was risking a shocker in first round but it is done now. It seems like we are going to get some solid waves this week so it is event better.

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Phil MacDonald 

Phillip MacDonald (Sydney, AUS), 29, claimed the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) 6-Star Buondi Billabong Pro today in tricky two foot (0.5 meter) waves at the event’s back-up venue of Piedra Blanca clinching 2500 ratings’ points after defeating Patrick Gudauskas (Ca, USA) in a nerve testing final where ten  waves only were surfed. MacDonald, who jumps from No. 31 to 14 on the ASP WQS international ratings, will now be looking forward to requalifying for the ASP World Tour.

MacDonald, a renowned big wave surfer, impressed today in the small conditions defeating Brett Simpson (USA), Che Stang (USA) and Eneko Acero (EUK) to make the final, before securing his first main WQS victory against new ratings’ No. 4 Gudauskas.

"I placed 2nd many times in my career but to eventually win a big event is just amazing," MacDonald said. "It was one of the smallest contests in a long time but a win is always a win and I am stoked I finally got the boys to hold me up in the air and get that feeling at last. It was a tough contest, kind of nerving testing with the tricky waves all weekend."

MacDonald, who ended up winning with a 14.50 point heat score (out of a possible 20), got the better waves in the 30-minute final posting an 8.00 point ride halfway through the battle before using his priority over Gudauskas to get away with the title.

"I could have surfed better but there was not a lot of options out there and I just got that good wave," MacDonald said. "I manged to get a few turns together for this 8.00 point score and in these conditions I knew there would not be many more good enough waves."

MacDonald, who got back on the WQS after failing to requalify through the ASP World Tour last year, had a slow start since the WQS got underway in January but now stands with two serious results in a row – an equal 9th in Hossegor and a 1st here – and is in position for a possible requalification.

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Stephanie Gilmore 

Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), 20, reigning ASP Women’s World Champion, has claimed the 2008 Rip Curl Pro Mademoiselle title, defeating fellow finalist Layne Beachley (AUS), 36, in clean two-to-three foot (1 metre) waves at Les Bourdaines in Seignosse, and regaining the ratings lead in the hunt for the 2008 ASP Women’s World Title.

Event No. 3 of 8 on the 2008 ASP Women’s World Tour, the Rip Curl Pro Mademoiselle was treated to two full days of action, culminating in the stunning Final between the two Australian icons.

Gilmore exercised discretion in the Final, slotting herself in picturesque French barrels and executing critical turns to net a solid 16.66 out of a possible 20 while her compatriot Beachley searched for waves that didn’t offer sufficient scoring potential.

“I was fortunate to get those few waves out at the beginning that allowed me to get a few maneuvers in,” Gilmore said. “It was really tough out there – really fast and racy and not easy to get scores.  Unfortunately for Layne, she wasn’t able to find a wave she could really open up on.”

Despite a disappointing 9th place finish in the season opener at home on the Gold Coast, Gilmore has since rebounded, claiming her second event win in a row and rocketing into the ratings lead in the race for the 2008 ASP Women’s World Tour.

“I’m absolutely fired up,” Gilmore said. “I had a bit of a wobbly start to the year, but I’ve had two really good events in a row and to be back on top is an amazing feeling. It’s my second year on tour and I’m looking to defend my title. I’m excited to be where I’m at heading into the next few events.”

Beachley, former seven-time ASP Women’s World Champion, was disappointed that she was unable to pull out the win, but her runner-up finish moves the phenomenal natural-footer from 5th to 3rd on the ASP Women’s World Tour rankings, putting her well within striking distance of the 2008 ASP Women’s World Title.

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