Island Style Pro Junior

Medi Veminardi (REU) and Alizee Arnaud (Hossegor, FRA) respectively won the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) Grade-2 Men’s and Grade-1 Women’s Pro Junior events today at Sopelana in the Basque Counrty, ending victorious after a four-day long event that saw big upsets and major ratings’ points taken for the regional title race.

Medi Veminardi (REU), 18, won the Island Style Men’s Pro Junior after defeating local Basque surfer Jatyr Berasaluce (EUK) in a Man-on-Man 30-minute final posting a good 14.00 point heat score (out of a possible 20).

Veminardi, who got through three heats today with victories over underdog Thomas Fok Cheong (REU) in Semifinals and Justin Delanne (FRA) in the Quarters, built his confidence with consistency and heat tactics en route to the final where he waited for a last minute 7.50 point ride (out of a possible 10) to secure his maiden ASP Pro Junior title.

"I was really turned on for this final", Veminardi said. "I had a second place in Portugal in April and I was not going to let this go away from me. I am so stoked to win this event as it is a 2-Star and it will be a very important one for the end-of-the-year ratings."

Veminardi, who moves up from No. 4 to No. 3 on the regional ratings, remains well in contention for the crown and 384 points away only from fellow Reunion Island born surfer and current leader Maxime Huscenot (REU).

"This win keeps well in the Top 5 and it is really important to get this halfway through the season", Veminardi said. "My goals are easy now: regional Top 3 at least and a good result at Narabeen in Australia this winter. Still a long way to go."

Jatyr Berasaluce (EUK), 19, who has had a very consistent season thus far including a semifinal finish in San Sebastian last week, came close to clinching the crown at home but could not counter Veminardi’s last assault despite leading the final for fifteen minutes.

Berasaluce, who secures his best result this year with his runner-up finish in Sopelana, jumped back from No. 4 to No. 5 on the regional race leaving fellow semifinalist Pierre Valentin Laborde (FRA) move into the Top 5.

"I was very confident and happy to surf at home", Berasaluce said. "I wish I had a bit of luck to get the better waves and get the title, it would have been so good. Second is a good result and a keeper for sure."

Berasaluce, who was among those qualified for the ASP World Junior Championships (WJC) in 2007, clearly expressed his intentions in the Island Style Pro Junior and will have to keep going with a couple more of solid results to start breathing again.

"I am already on the next event now and lots of points to take still", Berasaluce said. "I am in my second last year as a Junior so I take things positively and hope to improve step by step."

Thomas Fok Cheong (REU), 19, was the underdog in the Island Style Pro Junior finishing his giant-killing run in Semifinals against Veminardi. Fok Cheong, who was surfing his first ASP event this year, came up with victories over ASP European Junior ratings’ No. 2 and two-times winner this season Marc Lacomare (FRA) in Quarterfinal No. 2 and ratings’ leader Maxime Huscenot (REU) In Round 6.

"Stoked to make the semis and beat Marc (Lacomare)", Fok Cheong said. "I am a student so I don’t really train but I came to Europe to compare my level with the boys and it is a great confidence boost. I hope I can do as good in Lacanau next week."

Fok Choeng, who eliminated the two favorite surfers in contention for the regional crown, helped Veminardi and other semifinalist Pierre-Valentin Laborde (FRA) giving them a good opportunity to gain ground for the 2008 race and remain in reach of current leaders.

Pierre-Valentin Laborde (Hossegor, FRA), 18, was stopped by Berasaluce in Semifinal No. 2 missing out a second consecutive final after his 3rd place finish in San Sebastian last week. Laborde, a former ASP World Junior No. 5, is slowly coming back in the race to the end-of-the-year Top 5 that will give him a spot for the ASP World Junior Championships (WJC) in Narabeen next January.

"I was relaxed before the semi but Jatyr (Berasaluce) did very well", Laborde said. "An equal 3rd is good and it will help me gain ground on the leaders. The next event is a 1-Star only so I have no pressure, just hoping for some consistent waves and keep up the good work."

Pierre-Valentin Laborde a.k.a PV has been among the ASP European Junior leading competitors for four years already and aims at a second ASP WJC qualification.

With Maxime Huscenot (REU) and Marc Lacomare (FRA) losing respectively in Round 6 and Quarterfinals, the race to the title is tighter than ever and the current Top 3 holds in a 384-point gap. With one ASP Grade-1 and two Grade-2 Pro Junior events coming up, anything can happen at this stage of this season.

The battle for the Top 5 will be another serious one as 227 points only separate No. 8 Damien Chaudoy (REU) from Berasaluce.

The ASP Grade-1 Nikita Women’s Pro Junior saw Alizee Arnaud (FRA) secure her first win this season after defeating Johanne Defay (FRA), Ravi Bailleux (FRA) and Fanny Brice (FRA) in an all-French final. Arnaud, who was injured for a couple of months this year, put on an exceptionnal performance in the final posting an impressive 19.20 point heat tally (out of a possible 20) to clinch the crown and move up in the ratings.

"I had a great time in the final with the girls who are my friends", Arnaud said. "I felt good and relaxed during this event and I am stoked to get such high scores. All went my way."

Arnaud seized the oportunity to catch up with current ratings’ leader Cannelle Bulard (REU) who had a shocker in Round 3, leaving her closest followers all space to jump back in contention fo the regional title.

"I made the choice to come here and forget about the ASP WQS 6-Star in Portugal and I am happy with that call", Arnaud said. "I wanted to get some points to keep my Top 2 goal alive and I got all the points I wanted."

Johanne Defay (FRA), Ravi Bailleux (FRA) and Fanny Brice (FRA) all surfed the first final of their career and will be much awaited for a repeat at Lacanau where all Under-21 competitors will meet Monday, August 11 for Stop No. 4 of 8 of the ASP European Women’s Junior tour.

+n+ASP Grade-1 Nikita Pro Junior Results
FINAL: Alizee Arnaud (FRA) 19.20 pts, Johanne Defay (FRA) 15.83 pts, Ravi Bailleux (FRA) 10.97 pts, Fanny Brice (FRA) 8.24 pts

ASP Grade-2 Island Style Pro Junior Results
Medi Veminardi (REU) 14.00 pts Def. Jatyr Berasaluce (EUK) 12.74 pts

Bruce Irons

Bruce Irons (HAW) has defeated fellow finalist Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) to claim the 2008 Rip Curl Pro Search in rifling four-foot (1.5 metre) lefthanders ‘somewhere’ in Indonesia.

Stop No. 6 of 11 on the 2008 ASP World Tour, the Rip Curl Pro Search saw a marathon day of action capped off by a stunning barrel shootout finale between the young Hawaiians

Irons, who took down reigning ASP World Champion Mick Fanning (AUS) and Dream Tour sophomore Ben Dunn (AUS) en route to his Finals berth, came from behind in last 10 minutes of the event, grabbing an 8.33 and a 9.33 to scalp his first ASP World Tour victory.

“One of my goals when I joined the Tour was to win an event and I wasn’t sure if it was going to happen since I’ll be stepping away after this season,” Irons said. “But the waves pumped this event! This is what the Dream Tour should be like all the time. I’m definitely stepping away from the ASP Tour at the end of this year, but I’m not retiring. I’m still planning on competing at Pipeline and Teahupoo and at venues that I can get into.”

The progressive natural-footer eased into the Final against Patacchia grabbing small scores before unleashing a fury of backhand tubes and commited re-entries over dry reef to take the win and move into No. 10 on the ASP World Tour ratings.

“I was tripping out in the water when they kept announcing Fred (Patacchia) and I in the Final – you never hear that,” Irons said. “It was all business though. This is only the second time I’ve ever made one on Tour and I wasn’t about to let it go. I was trying my hardest out there.”

Irons maintains the family monopoly on Rip Curl Pro Search events, joining older brother Andy, who has two Rip Curl Pro Search titles (2006, 2007) under his belt already.

“My brother has won this event twice and all I could think about in the Final is how I wanted that trophy,” Irons said. “The thing is sick! It was a great event and we’re going to have a huge party tonight!”

Patacchia was in stunning form all event, netting high scores and eliminating top seeds before coming up short in the Final.

“Bruce (Irons) and I are good friends but we were super competitive in that Final,” Patacchia said. “Both of us wanted to win and we were hassling and trash-talking and everything. I had one wave at the start, but Bruce got two bombs towards the end and I could tell he was really gunning for it.”

After suffering an injury early in the season, Patacchia has since rebounded, finishing equal 9th in Fiji and Jeffreys Bay before his runner-up finish ‘somewhere’ Indonesia. The stylish goofy-footer now sits at No. 14 on the ASP World Tour.

“It feels great to come back after a slow start to the year,” Patacchia said. “The waves were so good for this event and I’m bummed I didn’t win, but to have Bruce (Irons) there and since he’s stepping away, it feels good that we kept the title within Hawaii.”

Chris Ward (USA) was another who was in blazing form all day, eliminating former three-time ASP World Champion and two-time defending Rip Curl Pro winner (2006, 2007) Andy Irons (HAW) and 2007 ASP World Tour runner-up Taj Burrow (AUS) before coming up short against an in-form Irons.

“I’m not even bummed,” Ward said. “If I had come out of that one barrel, then I would have been in the Final, but I’ve had a great day and a 3rd place finish really helps me this year. The next event is in my backyard, Lower Trestles, and I’m pretty confident out there. I’ll be spending a lot of time preparing for that event, but first I am going to enjoy this magical island and all the beautiful waves it has to offer.”

Tiago Pires (PRT), 2008 Dream Tour rookie, put in the best performance of his young career, dispatching of eight-time ASP World Champion and current ratings leader Kelly Slater (USA) in Round 3 before rampaging through to an equal 3rd place finish.

“This is the best result of my career and it takes the pressure off of me to get a 3rd at the halfway point this season,” Pires said. “I don’t know what it will do to the ratings, but it should help me and give me a better seed going into Lower Trestles. I have a pretty busy summer. I am doing all the ASP WQS events in Europe so it is a lot of surfing for me coming up.”

With the early elimination of the majority of top seeds on the Dream Tour, current ratings leader Kelly Slater (USA) maintains a healthy lead on this year’s ASP World Title race.

The next stop on the 2008 ASP World Tour will be the Boost Mobile Pro pres. by Hurley at Lower Trestles, California from September 7 – 13, 2008.

1 –
Bruce Irons (HAW) 17.66
2 – Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 11.16

Tiago Pires

Tiago Pires (PRT), 2008 Dream Tour rookie and current No. 39 on the ASP World Tour ratings, caused a sensational upset today, eliminating eight-time ASP World Champion and current ratings leader on the ASP World Tour, Kelly Slater (USA), from Rip Curl Pro Search competition in Round 3.

Running in solid six foot (2 metre) waves at the primary venue ‘somewhere’ in Indonesia, Round 3 of the Rip Curl Pro Search was treated to some fantastic performances, none moreso than Pires’ come-from-behind victory over Slater.

Needing a 7.16 in the dying moments, Pires watched a priority-holding Slater take the first wave of the set, leaving the European to pig-dog an incredible backdoor pit for an 8.40 and the win.

“There were two waves at the end of that heat and he went on the first one and I took the second and it turned out to be a really good wave,” Pires said. “When I came out of the barrel and into the channel, everyone was screaming. This is the biggest win of my career. I have won a few ASP WQS events, but to beat Slater here in these conditions is amazing.”

Pires’ victory was well celebrated on the cliff by several members of the ASP Top 45 as the young Portuguese surfer is the first Dream Tour competitor to defeat Slater in 2008.

“When I came up through the cave it felt like I won the event,” Pires said. “There were so many people screaming and cheering. It felt really good. I guess it’s a big deal that no one else had beat him this year, but I’ve been training hard and I hope to be going much further in this event.”

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