Titouan Boyer, 17, and Ariane Ochoa, 17, have won the inaugural Junior Pro Biscarrosse in wind-affected conditions of two-to-three feet. A marathon final day picked up where we left off on the second day of competition to complete 28 heats of both the men and women's events.
Boyer, on his backhand, was the first to step things up with a combination of two powerful gauges for a 7.57 and a firmer hold on the lead with his solid backup of 6.83. Despite multiple efforts from his closest competition in Mignot, Boyer was never really threatened and walked away with his maiden JQS win.
"Before today I hadn't won an event in a long time so the pleasure is immense," he stated. "I got injured last year and was out for almost five months due to an injury on my right knee so to come back to a good level and take out the event is awesome. Now that the tour has gone to under-18 we have a great opportunity as the younger surfers to get some experience towards starting the QS soon after. It was definitely much much harder in the last few years."
With his win and the allocated 1,000 ranking points, Boyer climbs all the way up to No. 1 on the European JQS, tied with Thomas Debierre who suffered an early exit in Round 5.
Marco Mignot, who had put on some of the strongest performances throughout the event, couldn't find his waves in the final and was left chasing an excellent score. At only 15 years of age, Mignot takes runner-up, a career-high, and will pose a threat in future events and seasons among the European Junior contingent.
"I'm super stoked for Titouan, we've been surfing together for years and he's a really good friend and even though I wish I'd won I'm really happy for him," he admitted. "I almost lost in the quarters and managed to get through in the last three minutes so I'm thankful to make the final, especially here in France."
The women's final was a lot tighter with Teresa Bonvalot, Nina Reynaland Neis Lartigue all exchanging low scores in the complicated lineup. Ariane Ochoa started much stronger, scoring an impressive 8.17 on her backhand to move into first. She kept the lead until the final horn.
This is Ochoa's second Junior event win after her success in Espinho last year and climbs to the top spot on the regional rankings--also in a tie, with Bonvalot--heading into the next stop in Espinho, Portugal.
"It was a very difficult contest in tricky conditions and basically all in one day for me so I'm extremely tired surfing that many heats but also very, very happy, I'm lost for words," she said. "It's been a long time since my last win and it's so good to relive that feeling. Today was exhausting, staying wet and cold all day in between rounds but it's always worth it when you end up first."
France's Reynal, who had a great start in Portugal last month with an equal third place result, continued to improve throughout the event to finally claim the runner-up spot to an in-form Ochoa. Reynal solidifies her third place on the overall rankings and will be looking to climb even further up the regional ladder for a potential shot at the World Juniors qualification when the dust settles on this 2016 European Junior season.
"I'm really super happy because the waves were definitely not easy but my choice to select the lefts on my backhand worked out well," she reflected. "I feel like I improved since the last event, I went home and worked a lot so I think it starts paying off. I know there's only one better spot and I'm going to need to work even harder to get there but I'm motivated and we'll see how it goes."
The biggest surprise in the women's draw was the unlikely counter-performance of Bonvalot in the final, but with a win in Caparica and a third place in Biscarrosse she will stay atop the European rankings leaving France.
Following the completion of the Junior Pro Biscarrosse, the current European Junior Qualifying Series Top 5 are as follow:
European JQS Men's Top 5:
1- Titouan Boyer (MAF)
1- Thomas Debierre (GLP)
3- Marco Mignot (FRA)
4- Luis Perloiro (PRT)
5- Joao Moreira (PRT)
European JQS Women's Top 5:
1- Teresa Bonvalot (PRT)
1- Ariane Ochoa (EUK)
3- Nina Reynal (FRA)
4- Nadia Erostarbe (EUK)
5- Néis Lartigue (FRA)
Competitors will meet next at the Junior Pro Espinho from June 23-26, 2016 in northern Portugal.