LACANAU, France (Sunday, August 17, 2008) – Nathaniel Curran (Ca, USA), 24, won the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) 6-Star Sooruz Lacanau Pro today in wind-blown two to three foot (0.5 to 1 meter) waves after defeating Dion Atkinson (AUS) in an exciting 35-minute final closing six days of great action at the famous French town of Lacanau Ocean.
Curran got one step closer to his ASP World Tour qualification today leaving Lacanau with an impressive 1500 point lead on the international ratings. Curran, who ended up winning in the last five minutes of the final battle after chasing Atkinson all the way, brings the crown back in the family after older brother and former ASP World Tour surfer Tim Curran (USA) clinched it nine years ago.
“I remember that look on the face of my brother when he won the event and I cannot believe I made it,” Curran said. “I have been having a few good results in a row but I am trying not to pay any attention to the ratings and take it one heat at a time.”
Curran, who won the ASP WQS 6-Star US Open of Surfing in July and placed equal 5th in the ASP WQS 6-Star Yumeya Billabong Pro in Japan, has become the unstoppable man of the summer with his result.
“I am overwhelmed at the moment and am just going to enjoy and keep having fun in my heats,” Curran said. “If I can make the ASP World Tour this year I will be just over the moon. You get the best waves on that tour and this is what I am thinking about, but it is a long way still.”
Curran, who surfed the same board that gave him the coveted US Open of Surfing title last month, brought progressive and radical surfing all the way through to his victory against Atkinson.
Atkinson, 22, secures his best result to date with his second place and keeps up the good work after several crucial results. Atkinson, who led the battle until the last five minutes, was surfing his first final ever in a main ASP WQS event, but could not counter Curran's impressive tactics.
“I just made a few critical mistakes in that last heat,” Atkinson said. “I took off on some waves I should have left and things went his way. We had a good heat together and I'm stoked for Nathaniel (Curran).”
Atkinson jumps to No. 26 on the ratings, is slowly moving closer to the Top 15 and now stands as a serious contender to any opponent.
“I am not looking at any ratings at the moment and just taking the year as it comes,” Atkinson said. “It is a big result for me but you always want to win when you make a final. I am still young, lots of events coming up, just want to keep surfing well and hope things remain as good.”
Massive crowds stood at the water's edge to cheer both finalists during the final and the impressive level displayed pleased all French people of this summer Sunday.
Mike Losness (USA), 27, undoubtly the outsider of the final four, started his Lacanau Pro campaign in Round 2 and got through six heats defeating big names including Dustin Barca (HAW), ASP Top 45 surfer Leonardo Neves (BRA) and Michel Bourez (PYF) before losing in Semifinals against fellow American Curran, en route to his best result of the year
“I wish I could make the final to improve my equal 3rd in the US Open of Surfing two years ago but I am happy with that run,” Losness said. “I am stoked, I could have lost days ago and I am in the final day.”
Losness, who failed to defeat fellow American Curran, will start in Round 1 of the next event with great confidence.
“I am happy for Nathaniel and we had a great heat together,” Curran said. “It is not like we struggled, it all came down to the best surfing, we both got the waves we wanted and it went his way. In that conditions, I am stoked.”
Losness will now be one to watch in all upcoming European events as his confidence boost and great surfing in Lacanau has made him the “Giant Killer”.
“I am not thinking of any results, points or guys I surf against,” Losness said. “I am already focused on my heat tomorrow in Hossegor and it is the most important thing from now on. I will be relaxed and take it heat by heat.”
Josh Kerr (AUS), former ASP Top 45 surfer, placed equal 3rd in the event today after offering some of the most progressive surfing ever seen in Lacanau this week. Kerr, who posted two of the three best heat scores of the week in Lacanau including an impressive 19.40 point heat tally (out of a possible 20) in Round 6, will take his solid result into next week's event in Hossegor.
“I am disappointed I did not make it through that one,” Kerr said. “It just did not happen during that Semifinal and after such a good week I was hoping to get another chance. I just came up short.”
Kerr, who attended five events this year on the ASP WQS, has not been thinking of any ratings yet but was still happy with that 1875 point reward for his run in Lacanau.
“I am kind of having a part-time year on tour, just chosing a couple of events here and there,” Kerr said. “It will still be great if I can finish the year in the Top 10. I like competing and I feel like it is makable. I had some good results in Hossegor so I am looking forward to it.”
Kerr will head two hours South to the world famous beachbreaks of Hossegor and Seignosse with his new No. 15 rank.
Tiago Pires (PRT), 26, finished equal 5th in the Sooruz Lacanau Pro going down to Curran in Quarterfinal No. 1 earlier this morning. Pires, who clinched valuable points and boosted his confiidence again after becoming the only ASP World Tour member to defeat 8X ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA) this year in the Rip Curl Pro Search "Somewhere", but failed to make any firther than Quarterfinals.
“I am pretty bummed because I gave him that last wave that I thought would close out,” Pires said. “It was a big mistake and he got that score in the last seconds which is kind of tough to accpet when you are winning the whole way through.”
Pires, who made it through five rounds this week, will climb up the international ratings and move confidently to the upcoming ASP WQS 6-Star Prime in Hossegor.
“I had a really tough start in Australia this winter and I am really needing results now,” Pires said. “I am happy with the things going on right now but I will be looking for some strong results. On both ASP World Tour and WQS.”
Pires, rated No. 27 in the world and No. 62 on the ASP WQS, has competed in five WQS events only this year meaning every single points he gets in the next two events will count for his overall total.
The Sooruz Lacanau Pro is webcast LIVE at www.aspeurope.com
Heat: Nathaniel Curran (USA) 15.43 pts Def. Dion Atkinson (AUS) 13.67 pts
Heat 1: Nathaniel Curran (USA) 13.50 pts Def. Mike Losness (USA) 13.04 pts
Heat 2: Dion Atkinson (AUS) 17.77 pts Def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 11.56 pts
Heat 1: Nathaniel Curran (USA) 13.96 pts Def. Tiago Pires (PRT) 13.70 pts
Heat 2: Mike Losness (USA) 11.60 pts Def. Joel Centeio (HAW) 11.57 pts
Heat 3: Dion Atkinson (AUS) 15.34 pts Def. Yadin Nicol (AUS) 13.00 pts
Heat 4: Josh Kerr (AUS) 14.53 pts Def. Greg Emslie (ZAF) 12.50 pts