Barrels and Off-Shore Winds Bless Top Seeds on Day 3 in Lacanau
Top seeds and barrels attracted massive crowds for Day 3 of the ASP WQS 6-Star Sooruz Lacanau Pro and it was another marathon day with 25 heats wrapped up in clean four to five foot (1.2 to 1.5 meter) waves. From current ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) ratings' leaders to ASP World Tour campaigners, world class surfers displayed some hot action.
Nathaniel Curran (USA), current international WQS ratings' leader, opened his French campaign with a win in Heat 5 and could leave the water relieved despite a low 8.40 heat tally (out of a possible 20). Curran, younger brother of former ASP World Tour surfer and 1999 Lacanau Pro champion Timmy Curran (USA), managed to find his way out of the tricky fast-breaking conditions and will surf in Round 4 tomorrow.
"The conditions were very tricky and you don't really know where to sit", Curran said. "Two of us went out back and two stayed at the inside so it was a bit of a gamble. I am glad I got two okay waves."
Curran, who now bears the "man-to-beat" status, was relaxed after his heat and is looking forward to his much anticipated Round 4 battle against former event winner Shaun Cansdell (AUS), former ASP World Champion Sunny Garcia (HAW) and current WQS top surfer Chris Davidson (AUS).
"I am trying not to think about ratings at the moment", Curran said. "I am focusing on one heat at a time and I am really not worried about the rest. I remember taking a picture of my brother Tim (Curran) when he won nine years ago and I would love to have that same look on the face."
Positionning and wave choice were the keys to success today and some perfect rides were scored by Australians Yadin Nicol (AUS) and Nic Muscroft (AUS).
Yadin Nicol (AUS), 22, was on fire and came up with the most impressive performance of the day posting a perfect 10.00 point ride right after a near perfect 9.33 pointer (both out of a possible 10) to end up with the highest heat result of the Sorruz Lacanau Pro at this stage.
"I am stoked to start off with such a result", Nicol said. "The waves were pretty fun and really rippable and I found that long enough barrel and came out. It came from nowhere and I was pretty lucky."
Nicol, rated No. 14 coming to France, has had his best year on tour thus far and will be chasing a couple more of big results to keep any possible ASP Top 45 inception for 2009. He will surf in Heat 7 when competition resumes.
The clean and solid waves pleased the Hawaiian crew usually at ease in hollower and faster conditions. Day 3 of competition saw the start of former ASP World Champion Sunny Garcia (HAW) who surfed and advanced with fellow Hawaiian Dustin Barca (HAW) after finding some of the best barrels of the day.
"I am very happy to be back in Lacanau", Garcia said. "It was a close heat but the waves were fun and I am stoked to make it with Dustin (Barca)."
Garcia, rated No. 8 coming to France, is on a quest to requalify for the ASP World Tour he left several years ago and seems unstoppable thus far. Chasing three big results to replace his low throw-away scores, Garcia will be a serious opponent to any competitor.
The European contingent was in good form as well and ASP World Tour rookie Tiago Pires (PRT) confirmed his Round 2 solid performance with another win today against serious contenders Luke Dorrington (AUS), Brett Simpson (USA) and Jihad Khodr (BRA).
"It was the most difficult heat thus far with the strong current", Pires said. "I was pretty tired after that heat and Luke (Dorrington) is an excellent competitor so I am relieved to get that win and keep going."
Pires will surf with fellow European Tim Boal (FRA) in Heat 2 tomorrow, while other European Round 4 qualifiers Romain Laulhe (FRA) and Charles Martin (GLP) will respectively surf in Heat 10 and 4.
Major upsets occured during this day of action and several favorites including much awaited Europeans Lipke and Bourez suffered early losses.
Marlon Lipke (DEU), current No. 9 among the WQS leaders, placed third in his heat losing to Beau Atchinson (AUS) and Kirk Flintoff (AUS). Lipke who has been on a good roll since the US Open of Surfing at Huntington Beach, was stopped today and will be looking forward to the upcoming event in Hossegor. Michel Bourez (PYF) had a shocker in Heat 6 finishing 4th in a low scoring battle where he did not manage to get more than a surprising 5.43 point tally (out of a possible 20).
Twenty-five heats were done today to take advantage of the good waves on offer and all remaining competitors will meet at 8.30 AM tomorrow morning.