Flores and Picon to Lead Solid European Contigent in Hawaiian Showdown

CAPBRETON, France (Monday, November 17, 2008) - Europeans of the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Qualifying Series (WQS) are currently competing on the other side of the planet in the warm waters of the Hawaiian archipelago and the second to last event of the year promises to be crucial for many of our top soldiers, some being on the verge of qualifying for next year's revolutionary ASP World Tour, others aiming at finishing their 2008 campaign with a solid strike.

The last couple of weeks witnessed the best results of Europeans ever on the international stage all categories comprised with France's representatives taking top honours on the American continent, from Brazil to California.

Jeremy Flores (Capbreton/New Caledonia, FRA), 20, last year's ASP Rookie of the Year and current ratings' No. 10, hit once again with his unquestionable talent in the Hang Loose Pro to secure his best result to date with a runner-up finish in Brazil's consistent beachbreaks. Flores, who suffered an ankle injury for a couple of months in the second half of the year, got back to his excellent level to fly the French and European flags and easily secure his spot for next year's Dream Tour. The Reunion Island born surfer will soon paddle out at Haleiwa in the ASP WQS 6-Star Prime Reef Hawaiian Pro for an intense encounter with potential ASP World tour qualifiers Dustin Barca (HAW) and Adam Melling (AUS). Flores, who reached the semifinals of the event in 2007, will have nothing to lose when his heat hits the water and will be looking to repeat his 2007 performance at least.

Miky Picon (Capbreton, FRA), 29, who is not attending the Reef Hawaiian Pro, is the other French and European man of the moment after his equal 3rd in Brazil at the beginning of the month, the best result of his career that has virtually requalified him for next year's Dream Tour. Picon, who was the second French competitor in history to enter the coveted ASP Top 45 in 2006, will wrap up 2008 at the Billabong Pipeline Masters in December hoping for another solid result to end up his best competitive year ever. Picon, who focused on the Dream Tour this year attending very few ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) events to keep all his strenght and energy for the most important contests, has achieved his goal and hopes for a bright finish at the world class testing wave of Banzai Pipeline.

If the ASP World Tour brought great success upon Europeans, 22-year-old longboarding French phenomenon Antoine Delpero (Anglet, FRA) became the best French and European longboarder ever while leaders Flores and Picon were celebrating their respective results in Brazil. Delpero finished No. 2 in the world after a second consecutive runner-up finish at the ASP World Longboard Tour Oxbow Pro, final stop of the 2008 race that saw veteran and former ASP World longboard Champion Bonga Perkins (HAW) claim his title back. Delpero, who defeated Perkins in the Quarterfinals of the first event in France last May, missed his maiden world title by 12 points only o the overall ratings but still brings home the best performance in European longboarding history, promissing for next year's championship.

Apart from the elite tours, ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) male and female European surfers are already facing different fates and some of them still in contention for a possible 2009 ASP World Tour inception will soon be fixed on their destiny.

With recently crowned ASP European champion and current ratings' No. 5 Tim Boal (Anglet, FRA) already guranteed to join fellow Europeans Flores, Picon and ASP World Tour rookie Pires who will requalify via his WQS No. 6 position whatever happens in the last Dream Tour event, two other men could increase the number of surfers from the Old Continent among next year's surfing elite.

Marlon Lipke (Lagos, DEU), 23, currently No. 9 on the international ratings, will surf in both upcoming events at Haleiwa and Sunset but already has a good chance of climbing in next year's ASP World Tour and become the first German ever to compete among surfing's greatest nations in 2009. Lipke, who has had a fantastic year with several excellent results including an equal 3rd at the ASP WQS 6-Star Prime Rip Curl Pro Hossegor, is not seriously threatened at this stage and should soon be confirmed for next year's ASP Top 45 contingent.

The other man to still have a chance at qualifying for next year's Dream Tour is former ASP European champion and current No. 17 Michel Bourez (Tahiti, PYF). Bourez, renowned powerhouse charger who prooved his talent and skills against the world's best when he defeated both Joel Parkinson (AUS) and Bede Durbidge (AUS) at the Quiksilver Pro France in September, will need one last big result to join his ASP World Tour mates. Bourez, who once reached a final at Sunset two years ago, is probably the one with most chances of achieving a great result in Hawaii's testing conditions and all eyes will be on Tahiti's best surfer when he paddles out at the Reef Hawaiian Pro.

Regarding female surfing, both French favorites Pauline Ado (Hendaye, FRA) and Lee-Ann Curren (Anglet, FRA) lost in the Reef Hawaiian Pro last weekend and no European representative will surf on next year's ASP Women's World Tour. Ado, 18, a former ISA World Junior Champion and mutliple ASP European Junior champion, managed to secure big results in 2008 including a runner-up finish at Durban in South Africa, and finishes her season ranked No. 18 despite attending six events only in 2008. Curren, 19, who was on her first year as a full-time WQS touring competitor, ends up her maiden year with a promissing rating, No. 20 so far, and should be one to count with in 2009. The last European woman who surfed among the ASP Top 17 is Caroline Sarran (Anglet, FRA) in 2007.

ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) Europeans' Rating

No. 5, Tim Boal (FRA)
No. 6, Tiago Pires (PRT)
No. 9, Marlon Lipke (DEU)
No. 17, Michel Bourez (PYF)
No. 41, Joan Duru (FRA)