France's Titouan Boyer and Juliette Brice have won the 2016 Peña Txuri Junior Pro Sopela today in building one-to-two foot surf.
Newly crowned European Junior Champion Teresa Bonvalot (PRT), 16, took on last year's champion Juliette Brice (FRA), 17, in an exciting matchup as the expected bump in swell finally started kicking in late this afternoon.
Tricky waves breaking out the back on the outgoing tide only offered limited opportunities and rewarded the surfer capable of linking maneuvers all the way into the shorebreak. At that game, Brice got off to a better start with a good 6.33 for a combination of turns on the outside and a nice forehand hack on the beach to wrap things up. Bonvalot got busy trying to find a similar long ride but couldn't compose as well with the "Huntington hop" kind of ride into the reform, ultimately leading to Brice's first event victory this season. Her result today sees Brice bumped up in fifth position on the regional rankings with one more event remaining before the season comes to a close.
"I really needed that win, that season has been a bad one rankings wise but I'm super happy to finally win another event, it's going to go a long way into getting some confidence back," she admitted. "I was super stressed out, Teresa is such a great surfer I always knew she could get the score and I didn't rest until the final horn. I'm going to rest a little bit now, probably compete in a few QS events in France and head to Lanzarote hopefully in good form."
Despite having to settle for runner-up today, Bonvalot had previously secured her maiden European Junior Champion title in defeating her direct rival Ariane Ochoa (EUK), 18, in their quarterfinal matchup this morning. The young Portuguese has been on an absolute tear this season with three event wins, a third place and a second now in Sopela. Bonvalot will head to Lanzarote in November pressure-less and be able to fully prepare for the next big thing, the World Junior Championships in Australia early next year.
"Last year I got second and I felt like it was my year because I had a great start to the season, but a couple bad results ended my chances," she reflected. "This year I'm super happy to finally win my first European title and to make it early enough that I don't have to battle at the very last event. It wasn't easy, a lot of the girls are surfing great and I had to work a lot to achieve this, so the feeling is even sweeter now."
Titouan Boyer (MAF), 18, had a very similar start than Brice and put a solid 7.83 on the board right away to take a little pressure off his shoulders in a tense battle against Canarian rising star Luis Diaz (CNY), 17.
It wasn't long though before Diaz could answer with three powerful forehand turns on a more vertical wave, earning a 9 point ride for a temporary lead. The final didn't disappoint with Boyer, sitting patiently in the lineup, having a go at a similar wave, but on his backhand, for an impressive 8.27 and yet another lead change.
In the remaining five minutes, the ocean didn't provide many more opportunities and the situation remained unchanged, with Boyer claiming his second junior event title this season after his big break in Biscarrosse last Spring. The added 1,000 points from today's win see the young Frenchman climb all the way into pole position heading into Lanzarote.
"Luis was absolutely on fire out there and I was afraid he'd get me before the end of the heat, but I think I had a little luck on my side and thankfully I won," an ecstatic Boyer stated. "I'm extremely happy today, my goal this year was to make the Top4 for the qualification, so to win two events and lead the race is unexpected ! I'm going to try to have as much fun as possible in Lanzarote and we'll see how the season ends."
Diaz had an impressive run throughout the event and claims a career-high second place in a Junior Qualifying Series, moving into fourth position on the regional rankings for a potential spot in the next World Juniors if he can maintain his form into the final event of 2016.
"This is my best result so far, I haven't had many good events this year but here I felt great and my surfing was good," he commented. "I really wanted to win this one, I got the best wave of the heat but I think I got a little too patient and picky with the waves, I may have had a good opportunity in the last minutes but I didn't take it, congrats to Titouan he surfed amazing and deserved it."
Junior athletes will now take a three-month break from U-18 competitions to either recharge their batteries and train some more or hone their skills amongst the QS crowds this summer before the grand finale in Lanzarote - Canary Islands in November.
The current European rankings Top5 stands follows:
Men's European JQS:
1 - Titouan Boyer (MAF)
2 - Thomas Debierre (GLP)
3 - Marco Mignot (FRA)
4 - Luis Diaz (CNY)
5 - Arran Strong (GBR)
Women's European JQS:
1 - Teresa Bonvalot (PRT) /// European Champion
2 - Ariane Ochoa (EUK)
3 - Nadia Erostarbe (EUK)
4 - Nina Reynal (FRA)
5 -Juliette Brice (FRA)