Stop No.2 on the European LQS, the Longboard Pro Gaia launched today in powerful three-to-five foot surf. Both men and women athletes put on an incredible show despite the extremely tough conditions on offer.
Fleurys on Tour
Emilien Fleury isn't exactly the hyper-stressed type, or at least he doesn't look the part. Traveling to Portugal with his 6 year-old son and the family dog, the Frenchman looked even more poised. Ultimate proof of his nonchalance was his buzzer-beater score in Round Two to move into the quarters.
"It's pretty powerful out there, I got pounded a few times," he said. "It's summertime in France, so we mainly have small swells, and my physical condition is not great. I didn't want to hurry because there were sets during the whole heat. I spotted that right hander, away from the other guys. The first I got was really good, big, and I did a long nose ride which paid off."
Top Seeds Supremacy
The big names in this event led by example, showing rookies and wildcards how it's supposed to be done. Antoine Delpero wasted no energy on middle-sized waves and instead selected the bombs to post a 9.07 in Round One among other great scores. Brazilians Rodrigo Sphaier and Augusto Olinto scored wins as well and proved that big waves mix well with both classic noseriding and progressive maneuvers.
Game of Thrones in the Delpero Clan
The battle between brothers Antoine and Edouard Delpero continued in Gaia with younger Edouard taking the nod on the opening day of competition. While Antoine has been dominant in the past two seasons, and continues to lead the regional rankings, Edouard looks sharp and eager to claim back the title by season's end. To be continued..
"Sincerely, I hope to be in the semis against Antoine but we both have to win our quarters first," Edouard said. "Then I'd have to beat him, like I just did in a local contest in Biarritz. The two of us are surfing good at the moment. He likes to think he lets me win sometimes, but I simply just beat him and he gets upset aha."
Steinriede's World Champ Act
Condition were pretty heavy when the women got out into the line-up. Big sets kept cleaning the beach and forced surfers to show off bravery and physical strength. California's Lindsay Steinriede stepped up to post the day's highest heat total (men included), an impressive 16.76.
"It feels good now that I'm back on the beach," she admitted. "I've been looking at the ocean all day long and was a bit scared like most the other girls. I just switched to survival mode for twenty-five minutes and actually had some fun. I'm not necessarily a fan of big beach breaks, and I didn't want to get caught inside. I knew that the bigger ones had a good shape, so I just waited for the sets."
Lindsay confirmed with a narrower win in the second round, but a spot in the quarters nonetheless.
Lemoigne's Still on Top
Not much has been left unsaid about Alice Lemoigne's domination over European longboarding these past few years. The talented Reunion Island native continued her successful run in Gaia, an event she's yet to add to her trophy list. Tomorrow is another day though, and Alice will look to up the ante as she'll likely face a former World Champion on her potential way to the final.
"I surfed only one heat today and I'm happy because it was pretty physical out there so I needed to be in shape," she said. "Longboard is not only for small waves, you can go big too! That's a different surf and it's great to be given the chance to perform in powerful waves. Tomorrow will be a great challenge as the international girls came to Europe. It's important for us to surf against them in regional events, so we can be ready for the World Longboard Championships. This is a good training."
Saturday could turn out to be finals day when the organizers reconvene at 7:30 a.m. Check out all the photos, highlights and results on the event site.