Beven Leads European Pack in the Maldives’ Sri Lankan Airlines Pro

Photo: Alain Riou (PYF) will be one of four Europeans to surf in Round 3 when competition resumes, and will try and join Patrick Beven (FRA) who already qualified for Round 4 today [Copyright: ASP/Robertson]

It was another tough day for Europeans at the Sri Lankan Airlines Pro, and five out of the eight still in contention after Day 2 remain in the event. Michel Bourez (PYF), current best European WQS surfer, was elminated in Round 2 of the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Qualifying Series (WQS) 6-Star Prime event in pumping five to six foot (1.5 to 2 meter) waves. Patrick Beven (FRA) put on a strong performance in the second last heat of the day and has already secured his Round 4 spot.

Tiago Pires (PRT), Alain Riou (PYF), Gony Zubizarreta (ESP) and Romain Laulhé (FRA) will all surf in tomorrow’s Round 3 heats to try and join Beven who found an excellent 8.50 point ride (out of a possible 10) in the last three minutes of his heat to advance ahead of former ASP Top 45 surfer Shaun Cansdell (AUS) and Matt Wilkinson (AUS).

Tiago Pires (PRT), 26, currently on his rookie season among the ASP Top 45, managed to advance through to Round 3 with a second place finish in Round 2 and seems to be in rhythm in the Maldivian lafthanders. Pires, a fantastic ASP WQS surfer who finished No. 4 on the ratings last year to qualify for the 2008 ASP World Tour, will surf against top WQS surfers Raoni Monteiro (BRA) and Adam Robertson (AUS) when competition resumes.

Alain Riou (PYF), 24, who has had an average start on this year’s World Qualifying Series, will be a serious contender in Round 3 with his perfect styled forehand attack and hollow reef point break experience. Riou, who has been a Top 100 WQS surfer for several years, is still chasing his first win in a major ASP WQS event and remains a solid asset for the European team.

Romain Laulhé (FRA), 22, who won the ASP WQS 4-Star Vendee Pro France in April -his maiden WQS win- has been in good form in the past couple of months. Laulhé, whose career best result is an equal 17th in the 2007 Rip Curl pro Super Series, will have to get a second place at least in Heat 11 of Round 3 against Brazilian surfers Hizunome Bettero and Miguel Pupo. Laulhé, who won the Vendee Pro thanks to his strong backhand powerful assaults, should be at ease in the crystal clear Maldivian waters of Pasta Point.

Gony Zubizarreta (ESP), who put on an impressive performance in Round 2 against fellow European surfer Michel Bourez (PYF), will be the last representative to surf in Heat 12. Zubizarreta, who posted a solid 15.97 point heat score (out of a possible 20) in Round 2, will now meet former ASP World Tour campaigner Kirk Flintoff (AUS), current ASP Top 45 member Leonardo Neves (BRA) and top WQS performer Drew Courtney (AUS).

Round 2 was wrapped up earlier today and the upset of the European contingent came when Aritz Aranburu (EUK), current ASP World Tour rookie, was eliminated in Heat 24 by fellow ASP Top 45 surfer Leonardo Neves (BRA). Aranburu, who was much expected in the long lefthanders, was not able to catch the better waves and will not make any use of this early elimination result.


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