LA SAUZAIE, France (Monday, April 25, 2011) – Tim Boal (Anglet, FRA) 27, has won the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) 4-Star Protest Vendee Pro defeating Alain Riou (Tahiti, PYF) 27, in a close fought Final that saw the lead swap several times in 3ft (1m) shifting peaks at the main event site of La Sauzaie.
Boal, who won the Vendee contest in 2007, led early with two solid rides before Riou turned the tables on the former ASP Dream Tour member with a long deep barrel and a succession on turns to score an 8.43 out of 10, the highest of the Final, to place Boal on the ropes.
"It was fun for sure that Final but not when Alain got that 8.50.(laughs) I thought it was going to be won with maximum two sevens because the waves are getting really inconsistent and it is hard to get the good waves. Then I saw that wave of his and thought 'There goes my plan", commented Boal on his opponents excellent barrel ride.
With less than 10 minutes remaining, a mistake on priority by Riou was capitalized upon by Boal who laid down three forehand smashes to claim 7.50 out of 10 and secure the lead and the narrowest of wins by only 0.03 of a point.
"He let me go on that last one and I wasn't sure if I had the score or not. I was expecting him to paddle for it but I needed a high score and it didn't look that good at first so in his position I would have left it too. In the end it turned out to be a good wave and it went my way I guess."
Boal, who claimed the Asp 5-Star event held in Gran Canaria last November, has gained even more confidence leading into the upcoming all important ASP PRIMErated events scheduled for the first half of the season.
"It is always good to win an event, it doesn't happen every day. I am actually stoked I have won two in the last six months actually so something must be going good and I'm going to focus now on trying to do good in the Prime events."
"The last time I won this event my former sponsor was sponsoring the event and now I am with Protest and I have won it again" continued an elated Boal. "I was thinking about it at the beginning of the week actually because I didn't come here last year and this year I have signed with Protest so it is a lucking thing that happened."
A dejected Alain Riou, who surfed brilliantly in his semi-final bout against Chris Friend (AUS), surfed brilliantly all week and the Final was no exception with his wave selection right on cue as he picked off the barrel of the contest to regain the lead and place enormous pressure on Boal.
"That was a bit of a bonus because I didn't think I was going to get barreled out here because it is smaller and not that hollow. This wave came out of the blue and it just happened. I didn't look for it or anything because Tim had priority but it held up really nice and I came out in the end. It was a really good feeling to get back in the lead."
Riou, who has furthered his lead on the Asp European rankings with his runner-up finish, had one more throw of the dice to find the modest score of 5.90 for victory but fell on his second turn and the title was lost.
"That was the turning point and a big mistake from me and Tim took it," explained Riou of his priority decision. "I saw the wave and I knew it was a good one but it sort of doubled up and I was on the upper bubble. I couldn't get into it so I didn't want to paddle and then lose priority. It was a mistake but at the same time I couldn't get it because I was too far out and he made the most of it."
"I got that wave at the end," continued Riou. "I could have got the score because I had a first turn but then I fell on the second one and that was it."
Marlon Lipke (DEU) 27, placed equal third at the Protest Vendee Pro going down to eventual event winner Boal in a close encounter which was controlled by Lipke in the early stages thanks to some of his trademark forehand snaps on the La Sauzaie peak.
"I think it was a really close heat and Tim got that 8.00 which I think might have been scored a bit high but he deserved to win the heat and he has been the stand out surfer throughout the entire event. I felt good in the heat but I had to wait for something special to come because I couldn't get through just surfing any wave. I had to wait for the bomb and it never came."
Lipke, one of Protest's most high profile team riders, overcame his nerves and held a great tussle with Boal all the way to the wire. Post heat, Lipke spoke of the great support given to the event in Vendee by his sponsor.
"Protest put up a great event and it is great to see Tim and I up on the podium so it is good for Protest and I think it's a great step forward this event to come into the surfing industry."
Chris Friend (Sunshine Coast, AUS) 20, who finished equal third, struggled to find a decent scoring ride in semi-final nº 1 against Alain Riou who got off to a flying start and never let the young natural-footer into the race. Friend was unable to find his rhythm during the 30-minute clash.
"Alain (Riou) got that first left and they gave him a score so I was trying to get some rights but they all sectioned out. There wasn't much I could do it was so shifty out there and I was out of sync and he was in sync."
Friend capped a superb week of competitive surfing with his equal third position overall and has gained valuable experience in Europe which will come in handy when he returns for the summer leg of events.
"This is my best result so far on the Star Series so I am happy with that but obviously disappointed that I didn't make the Final because it would have been a good comp to won. I have been feeling good all week but that's the way it goes sometimes so hopefully come back for the next European events in August and September better and stronger and hopefully win a couple."
The Protest Vendee Pro, stop No. 2 on the ASP Europe Men's Series, offers surfers valuable ranking points on both the ASP Europe Men's Series and the ASP World rankings.
The Protest Vendee Pro is scheduled from April 21-25, 2011. For more information, and all upcoming results, photos, video highlights, press releases and LIVE webcast log-on to aspeurope.com.
Protest Vendee Pro Final Result
Tim Boal (FRA) 14.33 Def. Alain Riou (PYF) 14.30
Protest Vendee Pro Semi-Finals Results
Heat 1: Alain Riou (PYF) 14.33 Def. Chris Friend (AUS) 8.67
Heat 2: Tim Boal (FRA) 14.37 Def. Marlon Lipke (DEU) 12.57