La Santa Surf Pro Contest
The expected perfect waves weren’t appearing yesterday morning for the kick off of the La Santa Surf Pro, but some good clean lefthanders were still on offer for the best seeded surfers’ start. With the sky slowly rising from behind the cliffs, the light made the line up beautiful with the first four coloured men ready to open the battle. Kirk Flintoff (Aus), former WCT member, was facing three dangerous fresh surfers Arthur Bourbon (Glp), Vincent Duvignac (Fra) and Matt Wilkinson (Aus).
The guys brought it up straight away and set the tone with some radical flying floaters and vertical off-the-lips. In a close heat, the favourite Kirk found his way out followed by fellow countryman Matty, with a very promissing 15.50 pts total while wild card Arthur left disappointed. “I’m disappointed because I felt like I was surfing good and everyone told me I looked stressed on my board. I caught a few big ones but this wave is tricky, and some sections are difficult. You just don’t know what to do!," said Arthur after his round 3 loss (Heat 1, round 3).
Heat 2 was the first big encounter of the day, Eric Rebière (Fra) facing Foster’s Men’s World Tour campaigner Adriano De Souza (Bra). Former WCT member and european champion Eric took the lead easily using his knowledge of the wave as Eric lives here in Lanzarote; with great power, the frenchman won the heat. But the big upset came from Adriano’s elimination, when Abdel El Harim (Mar) found two good scores to take second place and reach the round of 32. “It was a very tough heat, I waited quite long to choose the good potential waves then got ly first one. Then the second one was short and I managed to use tactics to make this happen, and keep Adriano away. I’m stoked to make it," said the moroccan surfer after his qualification for the round of 32 (Heat 2, round 3).
Some big european names then went down, Kai Otton (Aus) and Tommy O’Brien (Usa) taking out two european title contenders Pablo Gutierrez (Esp) and Aritz Aranburu (Euk). Both europeans couldn’t counter the international assault and lost the most important heat of the year as they had to forget about the regional crown with this round of 64 loss.
For his 20th birthday, David Richards (Zaf) created another big upset when he managed to win heat 6 in front of Foster’s Men’s World Tour member Yuri Sodre (Bra) and WQS Top 25 Tiago Pires (Prt) surfing relaxed after the speaker had offered him a nice happy birthday. “I’m stoked to make this one. It was a very tough heat with three very good surfers and now I’m through, for this special day. I want to thank my family for the support from home," started the 20 year old man. “Looking at the points, my goal is to go as far as possible in this event and moreover secure points for next year and WQS events," finished David (Heat 6, round 3).
Half of the round was done by midday, but with the tide being too high officials prefered to call a break and give more time to get better waves. At 2 PM restarted the round of 64, in clean 4 ft very contestable conditions. Winner of the 5 Star in Thurso last May, Russell Winter (Gbr), first european ever to qualify in the WCT, used his custom made power re-entries to take the lead of heat 10, looking in great form to advance in the round of 32 and focus on his goal. “It’s been an up and down year so far since the win in Scotland, eventhough I had a good one in Portugal. It was important for me to get out of this round and now I really hope to make a good result here,"started Russell. “I’m still on for a qualification and if I think I can get in the Top 45 I better believe I can reach the final here as a 1000 pts would be just what I need at least," he said. (Heat 10, round 3)
Regional title contender Justin Mujica (Prt) faced WCT surfer Jarrad Howse (Aus) in heat 13, in still clean but smaller waves. With young gun Jean Sébastien Estienne (Glp) and yesterday’s outstand Jensen Hassett (Haw), the heat brought a high level at the outside. “Howsy" used his experience to get a grip on first place opening with a 9, while the others fought hard to follow up and get the other spot. Justin did not find his rythm and left Jean Sébastien (Glp) ahead getting his best result of the year already.
A smiling Jarrad gave us a few words after his good start, “I’m really happy to be here and starting like that is the best way for me. It’s been a tough year so far, I smashed 8 boards during my heats this year in both WCT and WQS events and now I’ve got this good one. I’m still not out of the WCT requalifying race as Brazil and Pipe will be crucial soon but this 4 Star event reminds me of my victory last year in Spain, the one that got me back on track and gave me the spot in the Top 45. I’ll just be thinking of this event and forget about the rest for the moment," confessed Howsy.
European defending champion Patrick Beven (Fra) then qualified easily showing all his determination as a final here would get him back in the race for the WCT qualification, and a possible second consecutive regional title. The race is getting very close as five men remain in reach of the crown, but all of the 32 surfers still in the draw will battle for the points, especially those who could be back towards the Foster’s Men’s World Tour qualification stairway. We will run man-on-man heats from the quarterfinals and take you to the climax!