After an early morning wake up that resembled a chilly Bells Beach in winter rather than sun-baked southern France in summer, the 2005 Hossegor Rip Curl Pro experienced a great opening day thanks to some high performance surfing in the Pro Junior 2 star at Les Bourdaines.
Contest officials met with the surfers on-site at Les Bourdaines early this morning (7.30am local time, GMT +1), using the early surf check to assess the messy conditions and plan the day. This event has one of the highest attendances of any Pro Junior event this year. Heat 1 of the Round of 128 was eventually put in water at 9am and at roughly 10.30am Contest Director Gege d’Avezac announced that the event would utilise a second bank just south of the competition site.
“The decision was mainly due to the large number of competitors we have here – it’s one of the biggest Pro Juniors of the year,” explained d’Avezac. “We ran two banks in order to be safe and guarantee that we will run the contest in quality waves over the next two days. I would rather run the two banks today and allow the rest of the competition to be held in optimal conditions.”
British surfer Reubyn Ash (Bude, Cornwall) was one of the standouts in the opening Round of 128. A ‘test bunny’ of sorts, Ash was the first surfer to paddle out for Heat 1, impressing all with a strong 13.67 two-wave combined score to win the heat. He progressed through to the Round of 96 with Gauthier Hamon (FRA), who finished second behind Ash on a score of 8.53 points.
Matching Ash in the opening round and then outclassing the entire field of competitors that surfed today was Australian Jason Salisbury (Newport Beach, NSW). The 19-year-old overcame a close battle with New Zealander Matt Acorringe in Heat 2, winning with a two-wave combined score of 13.50 points and progressing through to the Round of 96. Matched up against Damien Fahrenfort (ZAF) and French surfers Gauthier Hamon and Scott Fontaine in Heat 2 of the Round of 96, Salisbury exploded again, locking in an impressive 8.67 scoring wave on his way to an event best 16.50 heat score. Fahrenfort posted a 15.80 to advance with the Australian, who sounds quietly confident of posting a high result in this event.
“Today went really well – it was a good first day,” agreed Salisbury, while relaxing in the competitor’s area after his second heat. “So far the events here in Europe have been so bad, it’s just really good to have contestable waves straight away.”
“I had two good heats and it’s a great feeling to score some quality waves too. I guess I was just lucky out there and got the scoring waves when they came through.”
Salisbury will surf Heat 2 of the Round of 64 against Norman Landa (EUK), Arthur Bourbon (GLP) and Gordon Fontaine (FRA).
Current WQS #58 Brian Toth supplied the day’s other biggest highlight. The Puerto Rican 20-year-old was not entered in the event, but after suffering an early loss at a neighbouring surfing event he elected to pack his hire car and drive down to Hossegor for a possible start today. After arriving at Les Bourdaines just after midday, Toth was rushed into Heat 5 of the Round of 96, substituting for an absent Jean da Silva (BRZ). Despite the lack of preparation time, Toth posted a 7.17 and 6.83 on his way to a heat winning 14.00-point score.
“I lost out at the event in Lacanau, but was still amping on adrenaline and decided to drive down here to Hossegor and do the Pro Junior,” explained Toth minutes after his heat win. “It was pretty rushed, but I just had my heat and found out I made it through. Now I have to go back to Lacanau tonight and pick up my friends and come back down…”
“It was a weird heat – I was straight into it when I got here,” said Toth, still amused about how quickly everything unfolded. “I didn’t really have time to look at the waves, I just entered with the officials and then ran down the beach – through some of the softest sand you’ll ever see – and went to the second bank. Me aand Yadin (Nichol) were laughing when we were walking out to the peak. I’d just got here and the waves looked fingered, but it worked out well and I’m through to tomorrow.”
Toth will surf in Heat 5 of the Round of 64 against Gonzalo Zubizarreta (ESP), Damien Chaudoy (REU) and Yann Martin (GLP).
With the swell on the rise and the growing Hossegor crowd set to hit the beach tomorrow, the weekend looks set to be a good one for the Rip Curl Pro.
Running in support of the Pro Junior, Rip Curl will host the Regional Final of the European Rip Curl GromSearch Series. GromSearch is a global initiative with regions including Australia, Indonesia, Brazil and the USA all running regional series this year. The boy and girl winners of the European Rip Curl GromSearch Final this weekend will be flown to Bells Beach, Australia next year to represent Europe at the International GromSearch Final during the Rip Curl Pro WCT.
Monday, August 22 will be the official Day 1 of Super Series competition. The event has a six day waiting period (August 22-28), allowing 144 of the world’s best surfers to wage war at Les Bourdaines and contest for the first ever Super Series title.
The US$150,000 Super Series is a unique joint creation by Rip Curl and pro surfing’s governing board, the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP). It is a licenced World Qualifying Series (WQS) event, boasting a format that mixes WQS and WCT competition into the one tournament. It now holds regard as the ultimate contest in the race for qualification points.
Rip Curl Pro Schedule / Les Bourdaines
August 19 to 21: Pro Junior 2 star (ages under 21)
August 20: Kas Beach Party at the Rock Food, Hossegor
August 21: European Rip Curl GromSearch Final (ages 16 & Under)
August 22 to 28: Rip Curl Pro Super Series WQS
August 24: Rip Curl pro team instore signing, Hossegor Rip Curl
August 26: Sunset Party (Live music by Tom Curren, Gwayav’, Three and a Quarter; free screening of surfing film Inner Visions.
August 28: Super Series Closing Party at the Rock Food
August 19 to 28: Exposition Vague and Coastal – Surfrider Foundation