Joan Duru

Joan Duru (Ondres, FRA), 19, won the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) 4-Star Protest Vendee Pro today after defeating Australian surfer Lincoln Taylor in the final encounter of the 2009 event. Duru, who took advantage of the tricky three foot (one meter) waves breaking at La Sauzaie, stole the crown from Taylor with a last minute wave, the French man clinching the valuable 1500 ratings’ points counting for the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) International and regional ratings and US$ 12 000 for his run.

Duru, who dominated the quarterfinals and semifinals Satruday, came out on top in a nerve-racking battle until a last-minute exchange that saw him get the lead back and secure his win with an 8.50 point ride (out of a possible 10). The 19-year-old competitor, seen as France’s next best chance for a Dream Tour qualification, unleashed his powerful back and forehand assaults to post a 16.33 point heat result (out of a possible 20) on his way to victory.

"I am over the moon right now and so happy to get that win," Duru said. "It was such a tough heat with so fewer waves coming-in and it was really close. I got that good 7.83 in the ning and just waited for twenty-five minutes until I relaized I had to go for anything to get the score and win. I didn’t surf that lastwave at my best but got the score and finished with that 8.50 pointer."

Duru, who adds a second ASP WQS title to his young career after his first win a couple of years ago in Portugal and an ASP European Junior Crown as well as a runner-up finish in the ASP WQS 5-Star Zarautz event last year, confirms his rise amongst surfing’s current leaders and is targeting a qualification for next year’s ASP World Tour.

"I am targeting the ASP World Tour so I wanted that win to get the momentum and start the year off with a good result," Duru said. "I had a good run last year on the ASP WQS so I believe I can go for the ASP Top 45."

Duru’s win rockets him to No. 7 on the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) and places him on top of the ASP WQS European Tour before the upcoming ASP WQS 6-Star Estoril Quiksilver Coast Pro.

Lincoln Taylor (North Stradbroke Island, AUS), 20, finished runner-up in the Protest Vendee Pro securing his best result to date missing out top honours after leading the battle for twenty minutes. Taylor, who went through six heats with several close finishes and a win over Marc Lacomare (FRA) in the Semifinals, ended his 2009 run with an average 12.37 point heat result and takes home US$ 6 000and a great confidence boost before moving on to the next event in Portugal.


Silvana Lima

Silvana Lima (BRA), 24, claimed her maiden ASP Women’s World Tour victory today, defeating reigning two-time ASP Women’s World Champion and two-time defending event winner Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), 21, to take the Rip Curl Women’s Pro presented by Ford New Fiesta and become the first Brazilian in history ever to win at the iconic venue.

Event No. 2 of 8 on the 2009 ASP Women’s World Tour, the Rip Curl Women’s Pro culminated today with an action-packed Final that saw both athletes pushing the levels of high-performance surfing. Despite both surfers racking up high scores, it was Lima who would rise to the occasion and ring the bell for her inaugural win.

“This feels amazing,” Lima said. “This is the first World Tour event I’ve ever won and to win it at Bells Beach is like a dream. To be the first winner from Brazil to ring the Bell, it’s amazing. I am so happy. I hope everyone in Brazil stays up and parties big.”

The high-flying Brazilian wasted no time in racking up scores against Gilmore, opening with a 9.17 before backing it up with an 8.17 in the opening minutes of the Final to put her opponent on the ropes.

“Steph (Gilmore) is so good out there in any conditions and I knew I needed to get scores on top of her quickly,” Lima said. “I was able to get really strong waves at the start and my boards felt like they were working really well.”

The win rockets Lima into No. 2 on the ASP Women’s World Tour ratings, once again cementing her position as a legitimate ASP Women’s World Title threat.

“The World Title is always my goal, every year,” Lima said. “Last year was a really good year for me, but I couldn’t win an event. Now that I have a win, my confidence is very high and I look forward to the next event.”

Gilmore was the form surfer of the morning, eliminating Paige Hareb (NZL), 18, in a close Quarterfinal before racking up the highest single-wave score of the event (a 9.60 out of a possible 10) in her Semifinal bout, but was unable to find a rhythm against her South American opponent in the Final.

“Silvana (Lima) finally got me and she was ripping,” Gilmore said. “Her win was well-deserved and I hope it creates a great rivalry for the year ahead.”

Despite her runner-up finish, Gilmore has further established her stranglehold on the ASP Women’s World Tour ratings lead heading into the mid-year break.


Ben Skinner and Candice O'Donell 

The first and crucial event of the ASP European Longboard Tour came to an end today, British surfers Ben Skinner (GBR) and Candice O’Donnell (GBR) dominating the LQS 1-Star Goanna Pro Tapia in consistent wind-blown five foot waves. Both event winners and runner-ups have secured their Oxbow World Longboard Tour (WLT) tickets and will represent Europe on the elite longboard tour along with Europe’s leaders Antoine Delpero (FRA) and Romain Maurin (FRA).

Ben Skinner (GBR), longtime top European longboarder, defeated inform Frenchman Alexis Deniel (FRA) in the final confirming his standout status through the event posting both highest wave score and heat result in the 30-minute decider. The British surfer finished the 2009 edition with an unstoppable 18.37 point tally (out of a possible 20). Skinner, who decided to make the trip to Tapia less than a week before the event started, leaves Northern Spain with the precious ticket for the Oxbow WLT, his main goal in the Goanna Pro Tapia.

"It is just perfect to end up the event with a win," Skinner said. "I came here with a big result in mind and to win and get that qualification for the WLT is what I wanted most. I was feeling great with that new board and surfed as good as I could every day. I am going to celebrate that great event."

Deniel, who secured his best result to date by placing runner-up to Skinner, showed how his hard work and training had paid off defeating fellow French favourite Damien Castera (FRA) on the way to the final, and secures as well a berth into the elite longboarding events this year. Deniel, who has been rising on the international stage since 2007, confirmed he had the talent and ss to reach the heights of the regional hierarchy and will be a serious asset for the European contingent aside the big names when the ASP World Longboard Tour (WLT) gets underway.

"I would have preferred to win the final but it’s already great to make it that far," Deniel said. "I came with one thing in mind, reach the final, and I made it so I am pretty happy. It’s been a great event, there was a very pleasant atmosphere and we are all good friends so I am stoked to have made the trip."

Remi Arauzo (FRA) and Damien Castera (FRA) both placed equal 3rd in the Goanna Pro Tapia, missing out the final despite showing exceptional surfing throughout the 3-dat event. Arauzo, who opened his run on Day 1 with the biggest heat score, was not able to counter Skinner’s final day assaults and will not take part in this year’s WLT events. Arauzo still showed again he was definitely ready to rise and the youngest favourite in the event should soon reach his ASP WLT top 32 goal.