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.

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Remi ArauzoThe 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).

Heat 1: Ben Skinner (GBR) 15.37 pts Def. Clément le Ray (FRA), 10.67 pts
Heat 2: Gabi Garcia (ESP) 7.03 pts Def. Yohann Anerot (FRA) 6.33 pts
Heat 3: Remi Arauzo (FRA) 17.17 pts Def. Adam Griffith (GBR) 12.16 pts
Heat 4: Lucien Le Ray (FRA) 9.00 pts Def. Dani Alvite (ESP) 5.07 pts
Heat 5: Damien Castera (FRA) 14.64 pts Def. Bruno Charneca (PRT) 8.60 pts
Heat 6: Jeus Del Valle (ESP) 5.07 pts Def. Eurico Gonçalves (PRT) 4.73 pt
Heat 7: Alexis Deniel (FRA) 16.83 pts Def. James Parry (GBR) 10.36 pts
Heat 8: Ricardo Fernandes (ESP) 6.90 pts Def. Diego Garcia Cela (ESP) 3.07 pts

Heat 1: Ben Skinner (GBR) Vs Gabi Garcia (ESP)
Heat 2: Remi Arauzo (FRA) Vs Lucien Le Ray (FRA)
Heat 3: Damien Castera (FRA) Vs Jesus Del Valle (ESP)
Heat 4: Alexis Deniel (FRA) Vs Ricardo Fernandes (ESP)

Source: ASP Europe

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.

The 25-year-old is currently competing on the ASP World Tour. The next stop is Bell's Beach for the Rip Curl Women's Pro presented by Ford New Fiesta on April 8-13, 2009. Sofia took second place at Bell's the last two years and rang the bell with a win there in 2005.