Competition Heats Up On Day Two at Oakley Pro Junior France
(San Juan Capistrano, Calif., Aug. 14, 2009) – The second day of the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) Grade-2 Oakley Pro Junior at Lacanau kicked-off in front of hundreds of spectators hoping to catch the action as all of the big names took to the water.
While it was a beautiful sunny day, the conditions remained tricky with consistent two-foot surf requiring even the most seasoned competitors to step up their game. The Oakley Pro Junior is a crucial contest for all regional ratings’ front-runners. As the fifth event on this year’s ASP European Pro Junior tour and final qualifier for the Oakley Pro Junior Global Challenge Final, it offers the opportunity to grab additional points before heading into the remaining events and a spot into the richest pro junior in the world.
Coming off a win at the ASP Grade-1 Sopelana Pro Junior earlier this month and competing in only his second event this season, Maxime Huscenot (REU), 17, paddled out aiming for another victory in Lacanau. At ease in the small surf on offer, Huscenot was unstoppable throughout his 20-minute match-up with Oakley wildcard Lewis St. John (BRB), Charlie Brown (BRA) and Ander Mendiguren (EUK).
Maxime Huscenot, “I had been training for a few days before competing today so I was pretty confident I could get a couple of good waves,” Huscenot said. “I still had a tricky moment out there when the rest of the guys started to catch waves, but things went my way and I was able to get the better waves.”
Huscenot left the water with a solid 15.93 heat score (out of a possible 20), which proved enough to advance through to Round 4. Posting an 8.83 point ride for the event’s second best wave score, the 17-year-old Reunion Island resident finished ahead of his heat making his presence as a serious contender in this title race clear to his opponents.
“That one good wave gave me the confidence to relax and remain patient,” Huscenot said. “Then I waited for that back-up ride and secured the few turns required to make it through.”
Having popped back on tour a couple of weeks ago, Huscenot will have to catch-up with current ratings’ leaders quickly to keep his ASP World Junior Championships (WJC) qualification hopes alive, making a win this week doubly important as it is also his one and only opportunity to qualify for the Oakley Pro Junior Global Challenge Final in Bali.
“My goal this season is to try and qualify for the ASP WJC at Narabeen in January,” Huscenot said. “Winning events is just great and that win at Sopelana for my first event in Europe this year was pretty special to me. I am just recovering from a knee injury and I couldn’t have hoped for more back there. I am feeling better now and I will just try and enjoy this event to keep the pressure off.”
While Day One dominator Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) was busy reaffirming his status as event favorite with his impressive speed and flow on the small waves walling-up to the shore, current ASP European Junior ratings’ leader Jatyr Berasaluce (Sopelana, EUK), 20, easily secured a Quarterfinal berth continuing his impressive run of big results.
Berasaluce, who placed runner-up in the last two events at San Sebastian and Sopelana, displayed his consistency today posting solid scores to advance and lead the Basque contingent.
“I am pretty happy with my start and feeling comfortable at Lacanau,” Berasaluce said. “My first Pro Junior Final was here in Lacanau and the sand bank is very similar to what it was last year so it seems like the set-up is good for me.”
As Berasaluce will soon be turning 21, he is aiming to make the most of his last chance to qualify for the Oakley Pro Junior Global Challenge Final and the ASP WJC this year. To do so, he will have to contain the assaults of other big names like Joan Duru (Ondres, FRA), and Marc Lacomare (Capbreton, FRA) amongst others to remain the No. 1 surfer in Europe until the next event.
“Being No. 1 is definitely great, but I know there are many excellent surfers right behind me waiting to grab those points,” Berasaluce said. “With these three main events starting now, things are going to be very close and I’ll have to stick to my plan and surf well. I have a great board at the moment and to see the Basque team improving is [also] a great support. We are all cheering [for] each other and this makes a big difference as well.”
All of the remaining Round 4 heats-Heats 5 through 8-will take place Saturday starting at 7 a.m. with the Oakley Pro Junior Girls event scheduled to get under way as well.
Beginning Sunday all of the action from the ASP Grade-2 Oakley Pro Junior will be streaming LIVE at www.aspeurope.com. In the meantime log on for live scoring, photos, news and more.
Now in its second year, the Oakley Pro Junior Global Challenge has already traversed the globe beginning back in February at North Stradbroke Island, Queensland, Australia, then stopping at Lower Trestles, San Clemente, Calif., followed by Port Alfred, South Africa, Etapa Itajai, Brazil, and most recently, Shidashita Point, Chiba, Japan last weekend.
The top two finishers at each of the qualifying events secure a spot into the Oakley Pro Junior Global Challenge Final in Bali, Indonesia, Oct. 7-17. Ten have already qualified and two more will qualify this week. Six additional juniors, one of which will be determined during a local trial in Bali, will be issued wildcards to round out the field of 18, and ensure that the talent at the Final is representative of the best juniors in the world.
The Oakley Pro Junior Global Challenge is a unique specialty series launched by Oakley in 2008 to give young surfers the opportunity to compete at some of the best surfing locales around the world. After a hugely successful inaugural year, the series continues to build international momentum and qualifying has become a first priority for many of the world’s top juniors.
For more information log onto www.oakleyprojunior.com
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