Photo: Michel Bourez (PYF), who placed equal 5th in the O’Neill Highland Open by Swatch, will be one of Europe’s best hopes in the Sri Lankan Airlines Pro
The European contingent on the WQS will soon hit the crystal clear waters of the Maldives for the Sri Lankan Airlines Pro pres. by the Maldives, a 6-Star Prime event. The Sri Lankan Airlines Pro, which has become one of the few Prime rated events in the world, will once again produce great action from the best qualifying surfers and Europe’s representatives are ready for some big results on the world famous lefthander at Pasta Point.
Michel Bourez (PYF), 22, current ASP WQS No. 15 and best European on tour, will lead a solid contingent of 26 surfers including three of the four ASP World Tour Europeans Tiago Pires (PRT), Aritz Aranburu (EUK) and Miky Picon (FRA). Bourez, who has been a full-time WQS soldier for a couple of years now, placed 5th in the last ASP WQS 6-Star Prime O’Neill Highland Open in Scotland and stands as a favorite towards a possible win. Bourez is chasing a third big result, at least over 1300 points, to keep his ASP World Tour qualification hopes alive and will be at ease on the long lefthand pointbreak similar to his home waves of Tahiti.
Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY), 27, who has achieved his best start ever on the ASP World Qualifying Series this year, is currently No. 19 on the international ratings and remains one of Europe’s best hopes towards a possible qualification for the 2009 ASP World Tour. Gonzales, who placed equal 3rd in the ASP WQS 5-Star Prime Hang Loose Pro in Brazil and equal 9th in the O’Neill Highland Open, has been on a good roll since the 2008 season kicked off and will be another serious contender for the Sri Lankan Airlines Pro crown. With two solid results already counting for his best seven this year, Gonzalez has yet to confirm his impressive start but seems in excellent form.
Hugo Savalli (REU) has jumped to 33rd on the ASP WQS ratings and is on the rise. Savalli, 24, a goofy footer from Reunion Island, posted back-to-back solid results including an equal 5th in the ASP WQS 4-Star Vendee Pro and an equal 3rd in the O’Neill Highland Open in April. Savalli, who is used to hollow reef point breaks, will be another leading European member in the event and is looking forward to surfing in the Sri Lankan Airlines Pro.
Coming from the South Pacific reefs of Tahiti and Fiji where they attended stops No. 3 and 4 of the ASP World Tour, Tiago Pires (PRT), Aritz Aranburu (EUK) and Miky Picon (FRA) will be Europe’s other master pieces in the Sri Lankan Airlines Pro and are in good form.
Pires, who placed equal 17th in the last two events, brought great levels of surfing and posted a perfect 10 in Tahiti eventhough he could not get passed Round 3 but will definitely be a strong asset for the Euroforce. Pires, who placed equal 3rd in the only ASP WQS event he attended this year – the ASP WQS 6-Star Prime Quiksilver Pro Africa – will be a threat to all title contenders and has all the potential to clinch the winner’s valuable 3000 ratings’ points.
Aranburu, 22, who endured a knee injury that kept him out of the water for two months, is back in good form and is now confident after his equal 17th place in the Globe Pro Fiji where he lost to reigning ASP World Champion Mick Fanning (AUS). Aranburu, who missed the two first events of the 2008 Dream Tour, will surf his first WQS event this year in the Maldives and will be chasing a big result to definitely leave his injury and last place finish in Tahiti behind him.
With top Europeans Tim Boal (FRA), Marlon Lipke (DEU), Gony Zubizarreta (ESP), Jose Maria Cabrera (CNY) and young guns Joan Duru (FRA) and Romain Cloitre (REU), Europeans have all the skills to keep rising as one of the world’s leading surf contingents and why not see one of them seize the crown in the Maldivian archiplegao.