Friday night, April 18th we were hunched over computer screens, shellshocked, much like a bunch of Air traffic controllers who just saw a Bob’s Big Boy statue fly by. It wasn’t looking good to say the least. Force 8 winds and solid 4 meter swell (translation: really frickin windy and that’s about twelve feet of swell for you non metric types) had been slamming the Atlantic coast since dawn. The charts were calling for a wind change from the south, but just as strong. The swell was to drop to a more manageable 6-8 feet, but with the heavy south winds, it could spell disaster…We crossed our fingers and tried to sleep, images of XXL riptides and flying event tents crisscrossing the mind like tumbleweeds.
Saturday morning. I sent a text message to the Acropolis to get a surf check. (followed by a carrier pigeon) No answer. No news is bad news, I guess. I fired up the Chariot (Pegasus the flying unicorn is in the shop due to broken landing gear) and made the run to the Coliseum of Anglet, with dramatic clouds hanging above the Pyrenees, expecting the conditions to be victory at sea in Anglet and perfect for Mundaka. How wrong I was.
Pulling up to the ‘Chariot Parking Only’ lot at Marinella beach, the first thing I saw was a local get a five-second stand-up barrel. I rubbed my eyes. The next guy got lit up like a Christmas tree on an overhead barrel. Perfect offshore barrels. VQS contest. Unbelievable.
A long check-in ensued as we had crews from the UK, Portugal, Norway, Spain, Canary Islands, France and Holland who were all qualified to Slash with the others.
After the usual set-up hassle with the rented PA, we got stuff up and running. We decided to double-bank it for the day, to take advantage of the perfect conditions offered up. The first heats for the Girls (Deities) and Groms (Heroes) struggled with the larger-than-life conditions and it was tough for them to get the medium size waves between the bomb sets. Davinia Vidal (ESP) used her El Quemao experience to her advantage and easily won her first round heat. For the Groms it was double overhead and actually kinda gnarly, but then again, this was the Slash of The Titans, and if you weren’t in it to win it, you were to be devoured by lions in the gladiator pit. Diogo Applelton (PT), PC Distinguin (FRA), Tom Neuschwanger (REU), and Tom Cloarec (FR) dominated the field, albeit a strong performance by Harry Timson (UK) in the near-perfect conditions.
Early Juniors highlights included an in-form Alex Botelho (POR) powering some heavy turns, reveling in the perfection. Hugo Dubosq (FR) was blowing up on ay wave he caught. Competitors were getting barrelled left and right on both set-ups. The big conditions created a make-or-break-it situation in every heat, with some competitors getting swirled around in the impact zone and jettys, trapped between a modern-day Scylla and Charybdis (read the Iliad sometime, kids). Some got the ride of their lives, others got the thrashing of a lifetime courtesy of Poseidon’s minions. The Open (Gods) division was hothothot due to the fact that every one of them was stoked to be surfing perfect waves with no ankle snapping groms out. The battle raged on under the steely glare of the Kraken. In the early afternoon we busted out the Medusa Pinatas and let the kids take out their aggressions on snakeface herself. Swinging a broomhandle ala Persius, the kids cracked the demon heads open and tore into the mix of stickers, candy and Volcom Highwear.
As with every contest, there were the usual disputes and opposing judgements, but we had Zeus with us; and you’d have to be pretty stupid to contradict the Greek God of all Gods. But there were some brave warriors who confronted Zeus, who promptly sent them running for shelter after summoning lightning bolts from his Bullhorn. Ok, back to the story.
The finals came around, and the wind dropped with the swell. Now it was head-high glassy peaks rolling in with the high tide. All divisions surfed their hearts out. In the Heroes (Groms division) it was Tom Cloarec who took the title followed by Paul-Cesar Distinguin in second. In the Titans, (Juniors division) Hugo Debosq edged out Jules Thomet to take the win. The clouds menaced. The battle continued. The rain fell on the sand as the final melees ended. The rain let up as the weather turned into a fiery sunset for the prize ceremony. Deities (Girls) finalists included Malissa Pichaud who won the event, followed closely by Flavia Brana and Erika Franka. In the Gods (open) division, local Justin Delanne got all the good waves and edged out Manuel Lescano from Lanzarote. Finishing up the open division were Hugues Oyarzabal and Tom Frager of Gwayav’ fame in third and fourth places, respectively. Manuel Lescano from Lanzarote took the best trick prize of the day for a mean double barrel.
All winners in all divisions won airfare and hotel in Newport Beach for the VQS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS May 9-11th, 2008 at 54th street in Newport Beach with $100,000.00 in prize money!
Gods: (18 and over):
1. Justin Delanne
2. Manuel Lescano
3. Hugues Oyarzabal
4. Tom Frager
1. Malissa Pichaud
2. Flavia Brana
3. Erika Franco
1. Hugo Dubosq
2. Jules Thomet
3. Alexandro Bothelo4. Julien Thouron
Heroes (14 and under):
1. Tom Cloarec
2. Pc Distinguin
3. Tom Neuschwanger
4. Diogo Appleton