PLAYA DE SOPELANA, Euskadi - Basque Country (Friday, July 26, 2013) - Competitors woke up to a slightly decreasing swell today at the ASP 1-Star Sopela O'Neill Pro Junior pres. by Bar el Penon. Still 2Ft surf was breaking this morning under the grey skies allowing the Women's Round 1,2 and quarter-finals to be ran in playful conditions.
Defending event champion Cannelle Bulard (REU) 19, was the first surfer to clinch a semi-final ticket this afternoon after competition went on hold waiting for the tide to come in. Bulard powered her way into the semis with her signature backhand attack in the small shifting peaks of Sopelana.
"It was fun," Bulard said. "I found some waves, it's pretty tough to get high scores in those conditions and I think judges want to see more spray and stronger turns.. You need to build a good speed in those waves that's essential to impress and score."
A clear standout in the season opener in France a few weeks back, Bulard however didn't keep her composure until the very final heat of the event and will try to better her second place result to keep the Sopelana crown secure for another year.
"My mistake last time was to wait too long for an excellent wave where I should have been building my scoreboard with more waves.. This time I'm trying to navigate the lineup constantly and find more rides so I hope it'll work out !"
Local surfer Leticia Canales Bilbao (EUK) 18, surfed a solid 20mn heat to dominate her quarter-final bout and advance ahead of talented Guadeloupian Kim Veteau (GLP) 15. Currently ranked third on the European Junior series before this event, Canales Bilbao needs to reiterate her best performance and will count on the local community's support when competition recommences.
"Conditions were really tough, but I'm lucky to have an excellent board to count on !" Canales Bilbao stated. "That heat was difficult but I'm happy to make it here at home on my beach, my boyfriend's here to support and my sister's surfing too, hopefully she can make it too ! I've kind of suffered a homespot curse so far so I hope I can beat it this year and have a great result here !"
Lucia Martino (ESP) 19, came out on top of quarter-final No.3 managing to find decent scores in a wind blown peak and a building swell. After a deceiving first event in France, the Gijon local wants to find confidence before the European Junior caravan stops in her hometown next week.
"I got a good wave right at the start so then I could relax and focus on trying to get the best ones," Martino commented. "I had a couple others but nothing major, I'm happy to get through ! I was really unhappy with my result in Royan but now it's all forgotten and I feel great, I want to have fun and surf well ! The next event should be mine, I know Gijon really well and I think I'll get confidence from everybody supporting me there."
Current rankings leader Johanne Defay (FRA) 19, closed today's action for the quarters, with the strongest showing in the women's division and the highest heat total of the event so far, an excellent 15.83 out of 20 to advance into the second semi-final.
"I'm stoked to get through and it's good that we waited for the tide to come in again cause my first heat this morning was complicated !" Defay said. "Waves got bigger this afternoon and I think I even may have got a little too excited I surfed so many waves.. I think I got two good scores just cause we're the first heat that had those bigger sets and I managed to push harder on my turns."
With already two ASP European Junior trophies under her belt in 2009 & 2011 and a runner-up finish at the ASP World Juniors, an enthusiastic Defay confessed to still having the most fun travelling across the Old Continent and building confidence before taking it to the big leagues next year.
"I have to admit losing my main sponsor didn't help and it's a lot cheaper to surf the European circuit than go to California for example, but mostly I just want to focus on training and building my motivation and confidence levels before attacking the qualifying series. I also need to keep spreading my name around and hopefully it will all come together nicely in the future !"
Conditions kept deteriorating later this afternoon with stormy winds accompanying the new swell but bigger waves allowed for three more heats of the Men's third round to be completed. Usual suspects entertained the crowd including Portuguese surfers Francisco Alves and Joao Kopke, as well as France's Gatien Delahaye who netted an impressive 7.33 out of 10.
Next call tomorrow morning will be at 7:30am for the Men's remaining heats of Round 3 and 12pm for the Women. Weather conditions are expected to clear out with summer temperatures and sun and a more consequent swell with lighter winds.
The 2013 Sopelana Pro Junior is scheduled from July 25-28, 2013 at Playa de Sopelana, Euskadi - Basque Country. For all results, photos, video highlights, press releases and LIVE webcast, log aspeurope.com/sopelana2013.
The Sopelana Pro Junior is made possible with the support of the following event partners: Peña Txuri Surf Eskola, Ayuntamiento de Sopelana, Euskadi Turismo, Diputacion Foral Vizcaya, Surfing Euskadi-Basque Country, Red Bull, Bar El Peñon, Euskal Herriko Surf Federazioa, Bizkaiko Surf Federazioa amongst others.