All eyes are currently on the Rip Curl Pro at Bells. With the big boys strutting their stuff, it’s where the glamour’s at. Speak to anyone that had to surf the first heat however, and you might get a different story. Apart from the new format getting a few backs up, the surf was nothing more than a swell in a bathtub, and we all know how small they can be right?

Well people, avert your eyes from Bells for just one second, and check out the Protest Vendee Pro going down in La Sauzaie. With four to six foot (1.2 to 2 meters) waves, some tasty vertical surfboarding was afoot.

Check out the press release below:

It was a short day for the Protest Vendee Pro with four heats only being held in the testing stormy four to six foot (1.2 to 2 meter) waves at La Sauzaie, Round 2 wrapping up in French April fashion with strong on-shore winds and cold water for the sixteen men having to surf today. The building swell pushed the remaining top seeds to go for big, vertical manoeuvres and show the ASP judging panel some commitment.

Inform rising French competitor Marc Lacomare (FRA), 17, took top honours in the testing conditions posting an impressive 17.16 point heat result (out of a possible 20) to easily win Heat 14 and secure his Round 3 berth with a great confidence boost. Lacomare, who went for clean vertical re-entries on the best waves of his 30-minute decider, opened the battle with a good 8.33 point ride (out of a possible 10) before wrapping up his show with back-to-back high scores of 8.83 and 8.33, leaving his follower Gordon Fontaine (FRA) in need of a combination of two waves to catch-up.

“It was messy out there but looked like some of the waves I get at home in the winter," Lacomare said. “I got a few good waves and was lucky to be there at the right time. I felt good, relaxed and tried to surf at my best."

Lacomare, current ASP World Junior No. 3, will be surfing at most of this year’s main ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) events and will also be competing on the ASP European Junior tour to try and secure his ticket for the ASP World Junior Championships.

“Thanks to that 3rd place finish at Narabeen last year, I should be able to do a few main events and have a start with the top seeds," Lacomare said. “I still have a couple of years as a junior so I still want to try and go to Narabeen every year and I will definitely be on the ASP European Junior tour as well."

Young gun and former ASP European Junior No. 2 Nicolau Von Rupp (DEU) was one of today’s top performers, the German surfer netting an average 11.03 point heat tally (out of a possible 20) to jump from third to first in the last minute of the Heat 13 and eliminate rising French star Charles Martin (GLP).

“It was hard out there and I was very tired before my heat," Von Rupp said. “I was really lost during the heat and couldn’t find the waves but I managed to get that last minute wave and make it so I’m pretty stoked right now because it was a tough heat."

Von Rupp, who has been amongst Europe’s best under-21 surfers for some a couple of years now, will soon go 100% on tour to try and make his way through to surfing’s elite and is looking forward to netting a good result in the Protest Vendee Pro.

“Like any other surfer, I’d love to win here," Von Rupp said. “Most of the top guys were in Australia so there is a good opportunity to get a result here. I am hoping to reach the Quarterfinals, but I’ll see how things go but there are still a few heats before that."

The 30-minute deciders saw some close exchanges take place in the moving ocean, the incoming tide and strong currents making the way back out a mission for competitors. The end of the day saw the French take control of the stage with Vincent Duvignac (FRA) and Simon Marchand (FRA) joining Round 3 of the Protest Vendee Pro while defending champion Romain Laulhé (FRA) suffered an early exit in Heat 16. Officials will reconvene tomorrow Thursday, April 9, at 2 PM.

PROTEST VENDEE PRO ROUND 3 HEATS Heat 1: Frederic Robin (REU), Tristan Guilbaud (FRA), Christophe Allary (REU), Abdel El Harim (MAR) Heat 2: Joan Duru (FRA), Rowan Aish (NZL), Justin Mujica (PRT), Dale Lovelock (AUS) Heat 3: Pablo Gutierrez (ESP), Willie Safreed (USA), Marco Giorgi (URY), Alan Stokes (GBR) Heat 4: Matt Pagan (USA), Reubyn Ash (GBR), Richard Christie (NZL), Eric Heat 5: Hugo Savalli (REU), Jason Harris (USA), Jose Maria Cabrera (CNY), Cesar Rosa (PRT) Heat 6: Jorge Spanner (BRA), Gregory Pastuziak (FRA), Damien Chaudoy (REU), Lincoln Taylor (AUS) Heat 7: Nicolau Von Rupp (DEU), Marc Lacomare (FRA), Simon Marchand (FRA), Diego Rosa (BRA) Heat 8: Shaun Ward (USA), Gordon Fontaine (FRA), Vincent Duvignac (FRA), Antonio Marques (CNY)