The Ocean & Earth Pro pres. by La Caja de Canarias, an Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Qualifying Series (WQS) 4-Star event, got underway today at the world famous venue of El Confital with consistent three to five foot barreling waves breaking over the righthand reef for the kick off of the 2008 edition. After three days of flat conditions, the new North-East swell gave competitors all the potential to show their skills and get covered in clear-water barrels.
From ASP Top 45 members to outsiders, the whole 96-man field put on a show on Day 1 of competition and excellent to perfect scores were usual throughout the day. Anthony Walsh (AUS) and Ricardo Dos Santos (BRA) both took top honours respectively winning Heats 7 and 4 of Round 1 with deep thrilling barrels disappearing for three to four seconds before claiming their reward to the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) judges.
Anthony Walsh (AUS), 25, renowned charger and Ocean & Earth teamrider, found the deepest barrel of the day posting a perfect 10.00 point ride (out of a possible 10) on an exceptionnal solid six foot (two meter) set wave. Walsh, who has been coming to El Confital for five years now, knows the wave really well and was in rhythm with the building swell.
“I was lucky to get it because there are many waves that can score nines or tens out there,” Walsh said. “I was sitting at the right place at the right time and I came out of it. I just want to take it heat by heat with still the will to win it for sure. I have had some good results here in the past, placed second when the event was on another location but would like to make it here.”
Walsh, who will be at ease if the conditions remain as solid, has not been on tour this year and came to the Canary Islands to compete in the back-to-back events in Gran Canaria and Lanzarote.
“I have not competed a lot this year and it was more about free surfing,” Walsh said. “I came here because I love the wave and it is my sponsor’s event and I am stoked we get such good waves. I am not here to qualify but I definitely want to get the win if possible.”
Walsh secured the performance of the day ahead of ASP Top 45 members Jay Thompson (AUS), Daniel Ross (AUS) and Aritz Aranburu (EUK) starting in Round 1 after losing their seeding rights due to a late entry.
Daniel Ross (AUS), 25, who placed 3rd in the Ocean & Earth Pro last year, flew to the Canarian archipelago after surfing in the ninth event of the ASP World Tour in Mundaka, and aims at getting a big result with hope to improve his ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) overall points’ total.
“It was good to have these days off to get the feeling right and surf the beachbreaks around,” Ross said. “It was a good call to wait for that new swell and I am stoked the event gets waves like that. It is fun surfing and watching so I am just stoked.”
Ross, who is sitting No. 42 on the ASP World Tour, is definitely chasing points and was very focused for his opening battle.
“I am here for business and I need to get a result,” Ross said. “I did good here last year and I am definitely focused on the ratings to try and keep it strong going into Hawaii. I can still requalify through the WQS so I am going to give it my best.”
Ross’ fellow ASP Top 45 surfer Aritz Aranburu (EUK), one of four Europeans on this year’s ASP World Tour, had a tough start in the event ending up winning his heat thanks to a last minute wave and an average result after falling off on solid excellent scroring potential waves. The Basque surfer, who is still recovering from an ankle and knee injury that kept him out of the water for three months this year, is a favorite in the Ocean & Earth Pro where he reached the final three years ago and placed equal 5th last year.
“I think I had the wrong board for these waves today,” Aranburu said. “I fell a lot on my waves and I was a bit shaky because it was my first surf here in a year as it was flat until today with a bit of practice here I would never have gone out with that board. I still got the better waves but fell on a couple of good ones and had to struggle to end up winning.”
Aranburu, who missed several events this year on both ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) and ASP World Tour, is under pressure to wrap up the year well.
“After such a tough year you definitely want to do good and it does put some pressure,” Aranburu said. “It seems almost impossible for me to requalify this year but I still want to try my best. So I do hope for a big result here, for sure.”
Locals suffered heavy losses with famous charger Aaron Romero (CNY) failing to advance through to Round 2 in Heat 14 of Round 1 and losing to top ASP WQS campaigner Adam Melling (AUS). Romero, who reached Quarterfinals in 2006 at his home break, was left aside leaving the water disappointed in front of hs friends.
Similar conditions are expected for tomorrow’s action and the Ocean & Earth Pro will move closer to its business end as three days only remain in the waiting period to wrap ut the event.