Antoine Delpero (FRA) and Chloe Calmon (BRA) have won the inaugural Longboard Pro Gaia in excellent three foot surf at praia de Canide Norte this afternoon.
The event resumed around lunchtime in the Portuguese sun and ran through twelve epic heats of beautiful longboard surfing to crown the first-ever Gaia event champions.
Current European Longboard Champion Antoine Delpero (FRA), 30, took on reigning two-time World Longboard Champion Piccolo Clemente (PER), 33, in an epic final where both surfers exchanged excellent scores and lengthy nose rides for the appreciation of a large Sunday crowd assembled by the water's edge. Delpero got a slight edge on Clemente courtesy of a really long right-hander he surfed almost to perfection for a 9.10 and the win.
"It's been a long and tiring three days in the sun and I can finally let the pressure down I'm so happy," he stated. "Getting two wins in a row is exceptional, and especially because both in Vieux-Boucau and here there were so many great surfers. Piccolo beat me in the semis in China the first year he won the World Title so I'm stoked to get my revenge today."
"I see that at 30 years old I am more mature and can handle some of the situations better even if I still do some mistakes at times," he continued. "I'm immensely satisfied with those two events and look forward to the next ones. Reading the spot is really complicated here and I managed to be in the right position for some good waves. Piccolo took a different option and I could never rest on my lead as I knew he could pick up a 9 at any time."
Delpero cements his lead in the regional title race with his second win in Gaia. His road to the final wasn't a simple walk in the woods either, the Frenchman had to face England's Ben Skinner (GBR), then Japanese revelation Shohei Akimoto (JPN) on his way to the final.
"I'm super happy, we got small but really fun waves here," Akimoto reflected. "This is my best result, I'm stoked and it was great to surf with all those amazing longboarders."
Prior to the final, Clemente had dispatched of the event's standout Augusto Olinto (BRA), 29, in their semifinal bout where the Peruvian lived up to expectations with incredible surfing that have earned him the ultimate crown twice. Clemente unfortunately couldn't compose with the conditions as well as Delpero did in the final and ended up taking second place.
"That was a great final against Antoine, he surfed incredibly and congrats to him," he said. "Waves were really good and I've had a great time competing here. My trip to Europe was really fun, staying with Emilien and cruising with everyone these past two weeks."
Chloe Calmon (BRA), 21, continued to dominate the women's field on finals day with an impressive performance over Victoria Vergara (FRA), 22, in the final. The young Brazilian out surfed her opponents in Portugal and belts her second LQS title of the season.
"I was excited to come to Europe and get more experience and practice, I learned a lot in France and the waves here were really fun, we got lefts everywhere so as a goofy footer I couldn't be happier," she reflected. "I was a little bit nervous before that final but I got a couple good score and calmed down a bit. Now I just feel like home, that win was the last detail missing to make my first stay in Portugal very special."
"I have to go home now to finish filming some trips for my television series on longboarding, but if I have time I might come back to Europe for the next event in Spain," she added.
Vergara with her runner-up result today and a previous 3rd place in France overtakes compatriot Lemoigne in the regional title race halfway through the season. The young Reunion Island surfer couldn't unfortunately match Calmon's graceful and timely approach to the clean waves on offer and despite her excellent surfing was forced to settle for second place.
"Slow heats are definitely a flaw in my competition approach and I'll get to work on that, I get nervous when I finally have a wave and don't surf it the way I should," she analyzed. "Chloe chose the better waves so congrats to her, that's the first time I get comboed so I'll go home knowing I still have some areas to work on. I'm focused on the European title and getting my ticket for China back so today's a great result and I look forward to the next event."
Results today consolidated the European longboard qualifying series rankings as follows, full rankings can be found at worldsurfleague.com.
Men's European Longboard QS Rankings:
1- Antoine Delpero (FRA)
2- Edouard Delpero (FRA)
3- Ben Skinner (GBR)
4- Emilien Fleury (FRA)
4- Martin Coret (REU)
Women's European Longboard QS Rankings:
1- Victoria Vergara (FRA)
2- Alice Lemoigne (REU)
3- Kathleen Barrigao (PRT)
3- Carole Lormant (FRA)
5- Francesca Rubegni (ITA)
Halfway through the 2016 longboarding season with two events now completed, surfers will next meet at the Longboard Pro A Coruña early July in Galicia.