ZARAUTZ, Basque Country (Friday, September 12, 2008) - On-shore winds and testing four to six foot (1.2 to 2 meter) waves were the setting on Day 4 of the Rip Curl Pro Zarautz and power surfers took control of the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) 5-Star event litteraly destroying the solid faces on offer.
Michel Bourez (PYF), 22, who just got a runner-up finish in the ASP WQS 5-Star event in Pantin last week, rose to the occasion and secured the first perfect 10.00 point ride (out of a possible 10) of the event to advance through to Round 4 after taming a solid six foot set wave. Bourez, a renowned ASP WQS campaigner rated No. 26 coming to Zarautz, unleashed his big wave surfing skills to post the most commited turns seen since the event started.
"It was looking just like Pantin and I was really excited to paddle out and try and get the bigger waves," Bourez said. "I borrowed a board from Joan (Duru) and it worked very well in these bumpy solid conditions. I was relaxed and Gony (Zubizarreta) missed that one wave so I went for it without even thinking and it ended up to be a ten. Just great."
Bourez, who won Heat 5 over Gony Zubizarreta (ESP), Norman Landa (EUK) and Txaber Trojaola (EUK), confirmed he was once again in top form today and will be confident for Round 4 and his 3-man clash coming up.
"Getting big scores is always a confidence boost," Bourez said. "I am just enjoying at the moment because it is good to feel well on a board again after several early eliminations this summer. I am taking heat by heat and staying away from any rating matter."
Bourez was not the only inform man on Day 4 and several high performances were posted throughout the day, the tricky but solid conditions making it a bit of a gamble for all athletes.
Shaun Cansdell (AUS), 25, a former ASP World Tour campaigner and currently rated in the ASP WQS Top 30, shone as well with two excellent scores during his battle against Justin Mujica (PRT), Jose Maria Cabrera (CNY) and Pedro Henrique (BRA) he ended up winning. Cansdell, who finished with an overall 16.87 total (out of a possible 20), was in rhythm despite a cold he got a couple of days ago that has weakened him a bit.
"I found a good board that seems to be working well under my feet," Cansdell said. "I waited as late as possible to paddle out because I have been a bit sick for a few days now and I want to be able to make it to the end if I have to."
Cansdell, who lost a couple of very close heats in France, is looking to get his confidence back and a result in Zarautz will be crucial for him to keep any 2009 ASP World Tour hopes alive. As many other competitors, Cansdell has been on the road for eight weeks and a result will be more than welcome.
"I decided to do as many events as I could this year to maximize the chances of requalifying," Cansdell said. "Some events went well with conditions suiting my surfing well but i was a bit unlucky as well this summer. I still have the possibility to make it but if I don't I will probably have a different approach next year."
Cansdell will surf against Andre Silva (BRA) and Paul Fisher (AUS) first thing when Round 4 of the Rip Curl Pro Zarautz resumes tomorrow.
Brazilian performer and elite member Leonardo Neves (BRA) struck once again with lower scores than in his previous heats but still posting another promissing 14.54 heat result to advance in second position ahead of Leigh Sedley (AUS) and much expected local surfer Hodei Collazo (EUK). Neves, who was not able to attend Stop No. 7 of the ASP World Tour due to visa issues, will be a serious contender in the expected solid conditions.
The first big upset of the event came with David Weare's (ZAF) elimination in the last heat of Round 2. Weare, best seeded surfer in the event and currently rated No. 6 on the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS), went down to defending champion and event wildcard Aritz Aranburu (EUK). Weare, who remains in solid position for a requalification among the ASP Top 45, was left in third by Aranburu who left the water cheered by the his fans.
"The conditions were really hard and we all had a tough time out there," Aranburu said. "I had no pressure but I just wanted to find a couple of good enough waves and it happened in the end. I am happy to get this one out of the way."
Aranburu, who won the first edition Rip Curl Pro Zarautz last year, will try and capitalize on his knowledge of the break where he grew up and please the Basque crowd.
"You always want to win when you get in an event," Aranburu said. "This one is special to me though and I hope for the double for sure but there are many good surfers so I will just avoid any pressure and look for some good waves in my heats."
Aranburu advanced again in the last heat of the day and will surf in Heat 7 of Round 4.
From the 144 men who entered the event, 24 potential champions only remain and the last rounds of the Rip Curl Pro Zarautz who will feature man-on-man battles once Round 4 is done tomorrow. Better weather and swell are expected for tomorrow and all competitors will meet at 10 AM Saturday, September 13.
UPCOMING ROUND 4 HEATS (1st and 2nd to Round 5)
Heat 1: Andre Silva (BRA), Shaun Cansdell (AUS), Paul Fisher (AUS)
Heat 2: Tim Boal (FRA), Justin Mujica (PRT), Glenn Hall (IRE)
Heat 3: Hizunome Bettero (BRA), Michel Bourez (PYF), Nathan Hedge (AUS)
Heat 4: Leonardo Neves (BRA), Gony Zubizarreta (ESP), Blake Thornton (AUS)
Heat 5: Robson Santos (BRA), Gabe Kling (USA), Patrick Beven (FRA)
Heat 6: Joan Duru (FRA), Luke Dorrington (AUS), Nic Muscroft (AUS)
Heat 7: Tonino Benson (HAW), Blake Wilson (AUS), Aritz Aranburu (EUK)
Heat 8: Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Luke Cheadle (AUS), Pablo Gutierrez (ESP)
ROUND 3 RESULTS (1st and 2nd to Round 4)
Heat 1: Andre Silva (BRA) 10.34 pts, Tim Boal (FRA) 8.90 pts, Adam Robertson (AUS) 8.34 pts, Gavin Gillette (HAW) 7.26 pts
Heat 2: Shaun Cansdell (AUS) 16.87 pts, Justin Mujica (PRT) 13.00 pts, Jose Maria Cabrera (CNY) 5.90 pts, Pedro Henrique (BRA) 5.64 pts
Heat 3: Glenn Hall (IRE) 12.40 pts, Paul Fisher (AUS) 12.00 pts, Rhys Bombaci (AUS) 9.50 pts, Dusty Payne (HAW) 8.53 pts
Heat 4: Hizunome Bettero (BRA) 16.50 pts, Leonardo Neves (BRA) 14.54 pts, Leigh Sedley (AUS) 12.00 pts, Hodei Collazo (EUK) 10.50 pts
Heat 5: Michel Bourez (PYF) 17.27 pts, Gony Zubizarreta (ESP) 13.30 pts, Txaber Trojaola (EUK) 7.37 pts, Noman Landa (EUK) 5.93 pts
Heat 6: Blake Thornton (AUS) 16.50 pts, Nathan Hedge (AUS) 11.67 pts, Marlon Lipke (DEU) 9.00 pts, Wiggoly Dantas (BRA) 7.50 pts
Heat 7: Robson Santos (BRA) 11.37 pts, Joan Duru (FRA) 11.00 pts, Yuri Sodre (BRA) 10.70 pts, Drew Courtney (AUS) 2.50 pts
Heat 8: Gabe Kling (USA) 15.34 pts, Luke Dorrington (AUS) 14.00 pts, Jean da Silva (BRA) 12.43 pts, Hira Teriinatoofa (PYF) 7.07 pts
Heat 9: Nic Muscroft (AUS) 15.10 pts, Patrick Beven (FRA) 14.00 pts, Micheal Spencer (AUS) 10.67 pts, Eric Rebiere (FRA) 9.30 pts
Heat 10: Tonino Benson (HAW) 12.67 pts, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 11.33 pts, Jean Seb Estienne (BLM) 9.90 pts, Shaun Gossmann (AUS) 9.87 pts
Heat 11: Blake Wilson (AUS) 16.07 pts, Luke Cheadle (AUS) 11.77 pts, Corey Ziems (AUS) 11.00 pts, Brandon Jackson (ZAF) 9.20 pts
Heat 12: Pablo Gutierrez (ESP) 14.50 pts, Aritz Aranburu (EUK) 13.67 pts, William Cardoso (BRA) 10.63 pts, Clint Kimmins (AUS) 8.34 pts