Under the clear skies of Praia do Amado in Aljezur, Portugal, the first heat of the Grade 1 ASP Buondi Pro Junior quarterfinals kicked off in 2-3 ft waves yesterday. Charly Martin (Glp) was in form in heat #1, scoring the best wave and hitting some radical re-entries just south to the judges’ tower.
Young gun Maxime Huscenot was the only one of the other three men to remain close to the leader, using the same positionning to get some good potential lefthanders as well; the heat almost ended as a duel between the two surfers, Martin finishing first of this opening battle.
The first big upset of the day came when defending ASP Europe Junior champion Joan Duru (Fra) suffered an unexpected loss in quarterfinal #2, finishing equal 13th in this 1 Star Buondi Pro Junior. The reason? An on-fire Romain Cloitre (below) who kept ripping his waves with an amazing flow and style, backing up his 7 pointer with a solid 5 pts score.
“Really happy to make this one as I knew it was going to tough; Will just focus and try to reach the final for sure,” said Cloitre after his convincing win. Outsider of the quarterfinals and good surprise for his second year on the pro junior tour, Omer Levin (Isr) surfed in heat #3 against yesterday’s most consistent surfer Vincent Duvignac (Fra).
Much awaited for this final day, Duvignac seemed in great difficulties for the first half of the heat until he eventually got back in the race to secure a second place to advance to the semifinals; the firing man of the heat was Pierre-Valentin Laborde (Fra) with no doubt. The surfer who finished equal 5th at the World Junior Championships last January scored the best ride of the morning with an 8.5 to advance confidently to the semis.
“I was really feeling well in this heat and I’m glad I finished first. Duvignac has been showing some amazing talent since yesterday and there’s still some serious time to come,” said the 16-year-old surfer.
Last portuguese and non-french of the quarterfinals, Frederico Morais (Prt) surfed with great comitment but couldn’t an unstoppale Jean-Sébastien Estienne (Glp), Buondi Pro Junior defending champion who totalled 13+ points to easily resurf later on.
The women’s semifinals were next in the 16°C water; favourite Lee-Ann Curren (Fra) faced some huge resistance and motivation from top scorer Marie Dejean who managed to link three perfect style turns to secure a solid lead while Cannelle Bulard (Fra) smothered the two other girls to jump in second position and reach the final-four of the 1 Star Women’s Buondi Pro Junior.
“It’s the first time I make it into a final so it’s great. I’m already glad with the result and hope to do well for the ultimate decider soon,” confessed a smiling Cannelle after her qualification. Curren had to accept this early loss and forget about a second consecutive title in Amado.
In semifinal #2, 2005 ISA Junior World Champion Pauline Ado (Fra) managed to follow highscorer of the day Alizée Arnaud (Fra), at ease in the fast breaking conditions; with an 8.33 and a 6+ out of possible 10, Arnaud showed how she was the favourite for the last heat of the contest.
The eight frenchmen of the semis were ready for some hot action. With the tide coming in, the peak had moved further north, in front of the judges’ tower. The 25-minute decider brought a great level between the four men, Romain Cloitre (Reu) taking a good advantage straight after the horn when he scored a 7.17 pts ride while Thomas Bady (Fra) and Charly Martin (Glp) fought one another until the last seconds.
But unfortunately left young Maxime Huscenot (Reu) alone at the outside, the man taking off on a last second wave to jump from 4th to 2nd and qualify behind Reunion Island mate Cloitre. The last semifinal was dominated by Laborde and Duvignac, the two surfers getting all the best potential waves to score some 6+ pointers, and reach the final.
In 2 ft waves started the Women’s Buondi Pro Junior final. Thirteen year old Cannelle Bulard (Fra) faced three other french surfers, including last year’s ASP Europe Junior #2 Alizée Arnaud (Fra). However Pauline Ado (Fra), pictured below, was the first one to get on with serious scores and found a solid 7 pointer to open the last battle of the event.
Looking confident and surfing securely but still on the best potential waves, the young girl from Hendaye didn ‘t wait long to push her lead further and get another high scoring ride when she linked perfect carved cutbacks to get a 7.83 and sit in front of the pack.
Behind her took place a great fight for second place but the favourite Alizée Arnaud managed to secure her spot and seize the $300 prize. Pauline Ado eventually won the heat and finish with precious 875 pts for the ratings before the next event in Spain, next August.
The grand final of the Men’s Buondi Pro Junior started after a short break, in order to give the tide some time to go out. At 1.45 PM, the four best men of the event paddled out in the green cool water. Wearing the red singlet, Cloitre looked confident after his good scores of the morning. 15-year-old Maxime Huscenot (Reu) was the outsider of this last battle, the rising surfer reaching his first ASP Pro Junior final of his young career.
In consistent 3 ft sets, the boys started an exchange with average waves, all of them trying to remain in the race for the crown. With the same flow and efficiency, Duvignac, Cloitre, Huscenot and Laborde all surfed, remaining in a close gap for more than fifteen minutes. Trying to take most out of the soft waves, Laborde had surfed ten waves halfway of the heat, and was sticking to second position while Duvignac was lacking his first solid ride.
With five minutes remaining, Romain Cloitre (Reu) killed the final when he found his way out of a long righthander, using most of the potential to link cutbacks and re-entries from the outside to the shore; the reward was an 8.5 pointer, giving him a 15+ total out of possible 20 to win the 2007 Buondi Pro Junior.
“It’s really a great feeling to win the event for the start of the summer. I’ve just passed my exams last week, came from Reunion Island and now I have this crown,”started the winner. “Now I’ll be focused on surfing 100% and hope to be going more and more on the WQS events as well. All good for me, just so stoked to make this one to the end!” said Romain Cloitre.
The 2007 Buondi Pro Junior has revealed a french domination over Junior regional surfing. The best portuguese surfer to reach the quarters was Frederico Morais and Omer Levin (Isr) leaves with the best newcoming performance. Action now moves to the 1 Star WQS in Cordoama.
Current 2007 ASP Europe Men’s Pro Junior Top 4 after 1 Star Buondi Pro Junior
1st: Cloitre, Romain (Reu) 875 pts
2nd: Laborde, Pierre-Valentin (Fra) 766 pts
3rd: Huscenot, Maxime (Reu) 656 pts
4th: Duvignac, Vincent (Fra) 623 pts
Current 2007 ASP Europe Women’s Pro Junior Top 4 after 1 Star Buondi Pro Junior
1st: Ado, Pauline (Fra) 875 pts
2nd: Arnaud, Alizée (Fra) 766 pts
3rd: Bulard, Cannelle (Fra) 656 pts
4th: Dejean, Marie (Fra) 623 pts
Photos: Poullenot/ASP Europe