The Médoc Océan Lacanau Pro launched today in building clean two-to-three foot surf on a very consistent righthand peak right in front of the competition site.
Women took it to the water first, culminating with a dominant performance from junior surfer Marion Philippe in the very last heat of the opening round.
The young Tahitian, who first appeared on the European radar a few weeks ago with an excellent third place at the Peña Txuri Junior Pro Sopela, dominated her inaugural Lacanau bout to easily advance into the top seeds' round.
"I was really stressed to surf my first heat in a QS at a wave I absolutely don't know -- especially because we couldn't surf it before the event as it was flat," she said. "But it turned out great. I got a couple of really fun, long and pretty steep waves so I was stoked! Next heat is going to be really hard but I'll try my best. In the meantime I'm out here supporting all our Tahitian surfers."
Men followed with their own opening round as conditions continued to improve, delivering excellent punchy waves for Europe's best and international visiting surfers to enjoy.
Gonzalo Gutierrez launched his Lacanau campaign with an impressive win over seasoned pros in his first year on the Qualifying Series. The young Spaniard destroyed a long right-hander with powerful carves on his forehand to net an excellent 8.83 out of 10. He advanced in pole position ahead of Angelo Bonomelli, who was a finalist at the recent Boardmasters, Cornwall contest.
"I'm really stoked to get a good start like that, I wasn't sure how the waves would be for my heat as the tide was turning but it was great," Gutierrez commented. "My second wave was awesome, I did a couple turns but didn't think it would be such a big score. Now that I've seen a replay of it I think I know what turns really did the job so I'll try to repeat that in the following heats."
European junior rankings leader Titouan Boyer negotiated his leap into the QS scene well, as he came out on top of a good battle against compatriot Arthur Lassee for their spot in Round Two. The young surfer, who has won two of the five under-18 events this season in Biscarrosse and Sopela, will be looking to find the same magic in Lacanau to make his way through the rounds as competition unfolds.
"I had a hard time finding the right waves at first but thankfully I managed to get a good little right and it got me going," he analyzed. "I was a little tense going into that first heat and now that that's out of the way I hope I can relax and enjoy myself more."
Brittany's Ian Fontaine powered his way into Round Two with a solid display of performance surfing to clinch the day's highest combined heat total, of 14.87. The regularfooter's precise wave selection was rewarded as his forehand carves in the hollow sections proved unmatched.
"I found it really fun out there and it looks like it's working at basically every tide so I'm stoked we're going to have good waves in this event," he reflected. "I'm really comfortable in those conditions, this is pretty much what I learned on in La Torche, a fun, reforming right. The next rounds are stacked with some of the best guys in the world so it's going to be really tough. But I look forward to it, as it's what drives me to surf better and try to beat them."
Fresh off a good quarterfinal finish at the Boardmasters, Jobe Harriss continued to produce excellent surfing and belted an impressive 8.43 for a combination of two radical backhand turns. Harris also capitalized on the rare lefts coming through the lineup today to backup his best score and take an encouraging win in Round 1.
"All the best waves in that heat arrived when I was out the back sitting on my own so I'm stoked I got these opportunities," he said. "I've had a rough year so far, but I just had a shipment of new boards and I've trained really hard so I'm feeling good. I went out in the quarters in Newquay feeling like I had a lot left in the tank as I had a good start and couldn't find another score."
Competitors will reconvene at 7:30 a.m. Thursday to resume either the men's or women's event depending on conditions.