Dustin Cuizon

Dustin Cuizon (HAW) has defeated Pedro Henrique (BRA) to claim the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Qualifying Series (WQS) 6-Star Yumeya Billabong Pro Tahara in one-to-two foot (0.5 metre) waves at Akabane Long Beach today.

Cuizon had a banner day, first eliminating current ratings leader on the ASP WQS Nathaniel Curran (USA).

Dustin Cuizon (HAW) and current ASP WQS No.1 Nathaniel Curran (USA) in their Quarterfinal bout with an impressive 15.00 out of a possible 20 heat total.

"I feel so honored to win to Nathaniel," Cuizon said. "He is one of the best surfers in California and lots of people say he is closest to win this event. I was only lucky."

"The waves are pretty small today," Cuizon continued. "So I moved alot and looked for the wave to score big and I found it! This is my 3rd time in Japan and the people are so nice and the food is so good. I love Japan. I try my best to keep the momentum and hope to win the event."

Curran was unable to repeat his performance at last week’s ASP WQS 6-Star Honda U.S. Open, but receives 1650 points and looks very solid to qualify for the elite ASP World Tour in 2009.

Greg Emlie (ZAF), former ASP World Tour campaigner, fell to Cuizon in the Semifinals, but will take his equal 3rd place finish and put it towards his requalification campaign for the Dream Tour.

"The waves were very small and we had to have extra care with wave ion. I am very happy to get good waves and make the quarter finals," Emslie said. "Dustin was so strong in the semi final. He is so strong in small waves and deserves to win. I could only catch only 1 wave and there was nothing I can do."

Cuizon opened the final with a solid backhand wave to post an excellent 8.83 out of a possible 10 and put the pressure on Henrique. The Brazilian fought back with a 5.50, but when Cuizon locked in a second score of a 7.33 the Final was sealed and the young Hawaiian was crowned the 2008 Yumeya Billabong Pro Champion.

YUMEYA BIILABONG PRO TAHARA" FINAL RESULTS
1. Dustin Cuizon (HAW)
2. Pedro Henrique (BRA)

3. Greg Emslie (ZAF)
Jadson Andre (BRA)

5. Nathaniel Curran (USA)
Andre Silva (BRA)
Shaun Gossmann (AUS)
Marlon Lipke (DEU)

Vicente Romero

Vicente Romero from Spain has been crowned European King of The Groms Champion.  He had the highest scoring wave of the final.

Surfing strongly on a solid 4ft (1.5m) left, he tore three great off the lip manoeuvres and landed a mini air, which added to his 13.17 heat score.  His fellow finalists put on a great show to produce a fitting climax to what has been a truly spectacular event.

 “I am proud to win today,” he said after his victory.  “I am happy for me and Spain.  We win in the cycling and in the football.  It was a wonderful final.  I’m really looking forward to surfing against the top 16 in the world.  I will go in with no stress, no worries so let’s see.  I’m excited to surf alongside Kelly Slater and Mick Fanning.” He finished his winner’s speech with a “Merci a todos!”  

The final day of competition at this year’s KOTG event has again raised the level of junior surfing in Europe.  The sun was scorching, the waves solid, and the crowds lined Le Prévent Beach at Capbreton to watch the action.  President of Quiksilver Europe, Pierre Agnes, at the prize presentation thanked everybody for coming to his home-town to make the event special.   

The best 32 European surfers aged 16 and under fought it out today but only the top two have earned prestigious wild cards into the World KOTG final. The Europeans will be up against the best young surfers from around the globe who will be here to compete during the Quiksilver Pro France in September.  Joining Vicente as a World KOTG finalist will be Dimitri Ouvré from Guadeloupe, who came second today.

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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
FINAL:
Medi Veminardi (REU) 14.00 pts Def. Jatyr Berasaluce (EUK) 12.74 pts

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Dimitri Maramenides, the founder and owner of Epic Kites, rode his kite a few hours before Hurricane Florence hit the East Coast of the United States.

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