The Longboard Pro Gaia culminated today with the crowning of Chloe Calmon & Emilien Fleury in slightly wind-affected waist-high surf at praia de Canido Norte in Gaia. The event resumed early to capitalize on the morning's glassy surf before the trade winds came to spoil the party on finals day.
Fleury's Time to Shine
Emilien Fleury is what we refer to as a perennial threat, in other words, that guy always on the podium but not on the top spot. Today, the Hendaye local proved everyone wrong and performed at the highest level to beat Brazilian powerhouse Rodrigo Sphaier in the Semis and former European champ' Edouard Delpero in an exciting Final.
"It's awesome to get one over Edouard after our final in Newquay last year," he admitted. "I knew I'd maybe get one chance at a really big score, I got it and I like the way I surfed that wave, even with my backup board, so I'm stoked to get the win."
Emilien now sits in the uncomfortable driver's seat heading into the final event of the European season, this summer in Newquay. He reached the final there last year and will look to do one better to secure a first-ever regional title.
"Fistral is weirdly very similar to my home spot of Hendaye and I get comfortable surfing there quite easily," he added. "The vibe is great too so I really look forward to competing there again. I don't think I'll be feeling too much pressure, it's more just excitement to be this position for the first time."
Delperos Still Get a Trophy
That is for the sickest heat of the entire event, in their Semifinal clash. The two brothers Antoine and Edouard claimed the only three 9-plus-point scores, with Edouard nailing two of them for a near-perfect 19.00 heat total. In the Final though, a little wave-selection mishap probably cost him the win as he started on a set's first wave while Emilien got the bomb right behind him. Now the two brothers are tied in second place on the European rankings.
"Five minutes before the end, I made a mistake," Edouard said. "I had my two scores and I thought I could improve on an average wave, but I didn't and he got the priority, that's when he got his 9-point. I regret taking that one, but I surfed my waves and did my best. Emilien deserves this win. He's been fighting for the last few events to take the title, and today he gets it, this is great".
Calmon on Top
Chloe Calmon is the current No.1 in the world, as she took out the Kumul PNG World Longboard Championships earlier this year in the pumping surf of Papua New Guinea. She made virtually no mistakes in Gaia and logically claimed her second win this season, comforting her favorite position in the hunt for a first-ever World Title.
"I feel really comfortable here, Portugal is like a second home to me," she said. "This event was really challenging as conditions kept changing and the level of the girls was so high. Today it felt like a world tour event as I surfed against Rachael, Lindsay and Natsumi from Japan. It's great to be able to compete against all of them and experience that level in competition in different conditions all year long. I hope pressure won't be a problem leading up to Taiwan but I feel like I'm prepared well and I just want to go there and surf the best I can."
Tilly's European Game Still Strong
Rachael Tilly came to compete on the Old Continent for the first time last year and clinched an event win and a runner-up spot. She also embraced the opportunity to visit the culture-rich region and visibly has a sweet spot for Portugal. Today's road to the final for Tilly was no walk in the park as she faced three-time European Champion Alice Lemoigne in the Semis.
"I've been feeling good the whole week leading up to the event," she said. "Today, each heat has been different conditions wise. It was kind of hard to know where to sit and we basically surfed three different spots. It was not easy to catch the waves, but I still think I surfed well and I'm happy with my performance. In the next days I'm going to explore Portugal a little bit and then I'm going back to California. But I will come back soon to Europe as I will be competing in the last European LQS event."
Check out all the photos, highlights and results on the event site.
Only the Boardmasters now separate us from crowning our 2017 European longboard champions, but for now the new regional Top 5 stands as follows:
Men's European LQS Top 5:
1 - Emilien Fleury (FRA)
2 - Edouard Delpero (FRA)
2 - Antoine Delpero (FRA)
4 - Jack Unsworth (GBR)
5 - Alberto Fernandez (ESP)
Women's European LQS Top 5:
1 - Alice Lemoigne (REU)
2 - Emily Currie (GBR)
3 - Kathleen Barrigao (PRT)
4 - Francesca Rubegni (ITA)
5 - Justine Dupont (FRA)
Full rankings available right here.