Big Swell on the Way as Bourez Leads Top Seeds Into Serious Business at Pantin
The 5-Star Movistar O'Neill Pantin Classic witnessed some of the best action of the year today with testing eight to nine foot waves hitting Pantin and picking up all day. It was another 25-heat marathon day and Round 3 was completed before seven heats of Round 4 were wrapped up taking the crucial event into business.
With forecasts showing huge waves for the weekend, officials decided to use most of the solid but nontheless contestable conditions and power surfers could take control on Day 3 of competition. Big scores and top performances got the usual crowd’s cheers all day and top seeds and big wave chargers took command setting the pace before tomorrow’s much expected battles.
Michel Bourez (Tahiti, PYF), 23, was much expected in the conditions that usually fit his power surfing and ended up winning Heat 18 of Round 3 with the second best heat tally of the event, an impressive 17.83 point result (out of a possible 20) including a perfect 10.00 point ride after finding one of the biggest barrels of the event so far.
"I was pretty relaxed before my heat and I was ready to get a few of these big waves," Bourez said. "I found two good waves with that 10.00 pointer and I am stoked to have the opportunity to surf that kind of waves. The only difficulty was to get the right position with the strong currents pushing away from the peak."
Bourez, former ASP European champion and possibly the next Tahitian to reach the ASP World Tour, impressed again with his confidence and comitment in the eight foot (2.5 meter) faces and will be a favorite when he paddles back out tomorrow against Pablo Gutierrez (ESP), Nathan Hedge (AUS) and Thiago Camarao (BRA).
"I had a tough summer with no good result so far so I will just take it heat by heat and try to make my way as far as possible," Bourez said. "I definitely like big waves so I hope I can get the better ones and get through again."
Clint Kimmins (AUS) followed Bourez out in the water and broke the Tahitian's record scoring a couple of impressive waves for a final 18.06 point combination (out of a possible 20), advancing ahead of French experienced surfer Patrick Beven (FRA). Kimmins, who has not secured any big results this summer, was at ease in the building swell posting a 9.33 point ride backed up with an 8.73 (both out of a possible 10) to advance.
Round 4 got underway at 5 PM and the pressure rose fast as all qualifiers were battling it out for a Round 5 ticket where 24 men only have a chance to surf. From the 160 surfers entered in the event, we are down to thirty-four men remaining with five heats to go before the 3-man battles get underway.
Adam Melling (Lennox Heads, AUS) answered the day's top performers in Heat 2 of Round 4 taming the heavy incoming tide sets with his custom made style to secure a near perfect 9.97 point out of a possible 10 to advance through to Round 5 ahead of current WQS No. 4 Patrick Gudauskas (USA).
"There were a few big ones closing out but the right corner of the beach was offering some better quality waves and I tried to stick there," Melling said. "I had some good ones out there so I am pretty happy but I got pulled over on a few ones and it is kind of heavy when you are below."
Melling, who had a strong start this year with several big results including a runner-up finish in the ASP WQS 6-Star Prime O’Neill Highland Open in Scotland, will be looking forward to getting through a few more heats to get back on track of a possible ASP World Tour qualification.
"I don’t want to put any pressure on myself so I am relaxed and going heat by heat," Melling said. "I just want to go home with a good feeling. I lost in very close heats in the last couple of events and I would like to leave Europe not too bumped."
Most of the favorites managed to make their way today and Europe's current leader on the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) Tim Boal (FRA) got through his opening heat as well, keeping his good roll going today. The Gudauskas family saw all three of its representatives make it to Round 5 as well, Tanner and Dane joining current clan leader Patrick in tomorrow's action.
"It was pretty fun out there today and we are stoked to be through," Patrick said. "I got smashed pretty hard on one of the last waves of my heat but it is really good to eventually get bigger waves. I cannot wait to see what tomorrow looks like."
Patrick has virtually qualified for next year's ASP Top 45 getting over the 11200 point range after his runner-up finish in Portugal last week and will meet with youngest brother Tanner in Heat 2 of Round 5.
Some massive ten foot (3.2 meter) waves are expected to break at Pantin tomorrow and both ASP WQS Women and Men competitiors will meet at 9 AM to assess conditions.