The ASP caravan settled on the world famous venue of El Confital this morning, getting back to business after a two-week break, for this crucial stop on the european schedule where solid barrels and epic action are expected. In solid 3 to 4ft waves, it was a spectacular day and a close battle between local knowledge and professional world tour experience.
The man of the day was undoubtly american Blake Thornton (USA) in heat 1 of round 2. Opening his canarian campaign with a solid 8.17 pointer, Thornton looked confident and patient until a beautiful set wave came in and offered him the fourth best single wave score of 9.33. Winning the heat ahead of european favourite Tim Boal (FRA) with a two wave combined result of 17.50 points out of possible 20, Thornton could be a dangerous outsider for the rest of the week.
South african Brandon Jackson (ZAF) was the other leader today when he found the perfect 10 point ride in the first heat of round 2, jumping in the lead of his battle after claiming his deep and long tube ride. With the tide going out, the conditions had changed before this four-men battle and Jackson paddled far behind the peak to stall in the most critical section and covered by the lip.
“It was just amazing… This wave came in and I was at the right place to catch it, the wall rose in front of me and I raced along the wave to make it. Just stoked to start the event with such a ride, it brings confidence for tomorrow and I hope we can get that kind of barrels all week!” said Jackson after his stunning ride.
Local Felix Ortega (CNY) opened the battle in the trials with two of the highest wave scores of the day, a solid 9.70 pts to post a total of 17.03 points out of possible 20. Always consistent on the testing righthander, Ortega made his intentions clear and reconfirmed when he scored a near perfect 9.97 pts ride out of possible 10 to reach round 2.
Used to dry and hollow reef waves, Canarian Jose Casillas (CNY) posted the third highest heat total of the day with 15.24 pts, finding his way out of the tricky bowl section of El Confital. Despite hitting the reef hard on his last ride and leaving for the hospital to get stiches, famous canarian Franito Saenz (Lanzarote, CNY) was another local qualifier and will meet french young guns Arthur Bourbon (GLP) and Thomas Bady (FRA) tomorrow.
Surfing in heat 1 of round 1 because of a late entry, current ASP European Pro Surf Tour #2 Tim Boal (FRA) managed to take control of his first ever encounter on the barreling righthander, winning with 14.33 out of possible 20. “It was good, I got stuck a bit far from the peak but for my first heat here I’m definitely satisfied. I’ll try to get out of all these first rounds and reach the last days of competition from now on.”
Unfortunately, Boal was eliminated against best scorer of the day Brandon Jackson (ZAF), not finding any good potential barrel to make it through.Boal’s elimination leaves a clear advantage to European Pro Surf Tour leader Aritz Aranburu (EUK) and close follower Marlon Lipke (DEU) in the ratings’ race.
After eighteen months away from the tour, Jean-Jacques Billard (FRA) did his come-back today ready to rumble and why not repeat his last result here, a convincing equal 17th in 2005. Winning his battle with a low score of 11 points, the french brazilian born surfer will get on with his return campaign tomorrow when competition resumes.
The Ocean & Earth Pro is LIVE at www.aspeurope.com and showcases the best surfers of the World Qualifying Series. Check in is at 9 AM local time. The forecast shows smaller waves, but still a very promissing finish by the weekend. Enjoy.