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Ramzi Boukhiam and Zahli Kelly Win 2018 Caraïbos Lacanau Pro

Highlights: Epic Finals Day Crowns Boukhiam and Kelly in Lacanau
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The Caraïbos Lacanau Pro culminates with the victories of Ramzi Boukhiam and Zahli Kelly in an exciting finish.

The Caraïbos Lacanau Pro wrapped up today in good three foot surf on a scorching summer day. Here's a breakdown of the event's finals.

Men's Final: Kalani Ball vs. Ramzi Boukhiam

Ball opened fire first with a good first wave in the opening minutes of the Final, opting to go above the lip with a quick forehand rotation followed by a couple of snaps for a 6.83 and the early lead. Boukhiam stuck to his previous game plan and waited for the longer rights to apply his surgical backhand attack, posting an incredible 9 point ride for 6 radical turns, and the pole position.

The Australian continued to look for air sections and found two more waves in the similar score range but was never able to really break into the excellent 8+ rides. The Moroccan on the other hand, looked for similar clean walls to work with, and pushed the requirement slightly higher on his next two attempts. Time ran out eventually and Boukhiam claimed his first win of the season in front of the enthusiast Lacanau crowds.

Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR) .Caraibos Lacanau pro 2018 Boukhiam savors being chaired up the beach once more. WSL / Laurent Masurel

"I'd love to get these results at QS10,000 but I'll take it!" he said. "I haven't come here for a few years and it's great to be back in Lacanau and see everyone. I'm super happy to win today, I was in a good mood, I have great boards and I was impatient to come and test it all out this week."

Boukhiam comes off a good result at the VANS US Open of Surfing and looked sharp all week, but really stepped up his game on finals day to post the biggest scores of the event, including two 9+ rides in the semis and the Final. With this result in France, the Moroccan cracks the European Top 5 and will be a favorite in the next event in Anglet, which he won last season.

"I just had a great rhythm in those last two heats," he added. "I got an average wave that put me in position for the perfect one and from then I just had a good flow. I knew Kalani could have gotten the score easy so I kept trying to improve and thankfully it was enough. I'm super tired now but I‘m going to rest for a bit and I really look forward to going at it again in Anglet this week."   Ball posted his best result of the year to date with a runner-up in Lacanau and adds another 1,125 points to his season tally. The talented regular foot has been regularly improving his position on the Qualifying Series over the past few years and is a force to be reckoned with in this generation of Australian surfers.

Kalani Ball (AUS) .Caraibos Lacanau Pro 2018 Kalani Ball let his fins run free on pretty much every wave today. WSL / Laurent Masurel

"I came here a few years ago and only made a couple of heats so I'm stoked to be back and make the final!" he said. "Ramzi's been on fire in this event so it was nice to share a Final with him. I would have loved to have that wave that Ramzi got, but there weren't many so I just figured if I could manage to land a big air that was a way for me to score high."

The winner and finalist had previously defeated Jacob Willcox and Nomme Mignot respectively in the semis.

Women's Final: Zahli Kelly vs. Cannelle Bulard

In the women's final, surfers fought it out at high tide as long rights peeled through the lineup, North of the judges tower. The Australian started early with two average scores to find a rhythm and quickly graduated to posting a 7.33 to strengthen her lead. It took almost half the heat for Bulard to find a wave with potential, but she did and laid her backhand attack on a slightly fatter wave for a 6 point ride.

The ocean quieted down for the next ten minutes and the final result came down to a couple of final efforts from Bulard. The Reunion Island surfer tried to distance herself from Kelly but in doing so stayed on a peak with slightly less potential. Her final three waves all came up just short of the 6.00 required and Kelly walked away with the win.

Zahli Kelly (AUS).Caraibos Lacanau pro 2018 Zahli Kelly claims a first-ever win on the QS tour. WSL / Laurent Masurel

"I'm pretty overwhelmed right now, I can't really believe that's happened!" she reflected. "I've won a couple of junior events but a QS is definitely a lot harder and I didn't expect that. Waves were so much fun this week, I loved my first time here in Lacanau."

The 14 year-old phenom from Brisbane gets her first Qualifying Series event win after dominating the junior season down under. She defeated two of the strongest surfers in the earlier rounds, Lucia Indurain in the semis and Dominic Barona (ECU) in the quarters.  

Zahli Kelly (AUS).Caraibos Lacanau Pro 2018 The caliber of surfing displayed by Kelly this week was phenomenal. WSL / Laurent Masurel

"I'm doing the whole European leg for the first time and so far I love it here," she continued. "It reminds a bit of home actually, we have similar waves in Cabarita beach where I usually surf so I didn't feel too lost out there. I don't really expect to win other events right away but it would be great to be able to keep the same form and get to the finals again."   Cannelle Bulard only came back on tour this season after putting her competitive career on standby while she was studying abroad. The former European junior champion came back with unmatched motivation and a really positive attitude. She won her first QS event back in June in South Africa and adds another stellar performance to her 2018 qualifying effort.

Cannelle Bulard (REU) .Caraibos Lacanau Pro 2018 Bulard found her groove back in Lacanau. WSL / Laurent Masurel

"That win just before summer in South Africa really boosted me," she said. "I am so happy to put a good event together here in Europe. It's great for my ranking and it will allow me to surf the big events next year so I'm super happy. I'm sort of auto-financing my career right now and I'll have to go to work as a physio for a few months but I'm really happy with my life right now and the people around me, I'm extremely lucky."

Kelly and Bulard had previously defeated Indurain and Mahina Maeda respectively in the semis.

With the completion of the Caraïbos Lacanau Pro, the European rankings have been slightly changed, here's the new current Top 5:

European Men's QS Top 5:
1 - Jorgann Couzinet
2 - Andy Criere
3 - Gony Zubizarreta
4 - Maxime Huscenot
5 - Ramzi Boukhiam

European Women's QS Top 5:
1 - Pauline Ado
2 - Cannelle Bulard
3 - Camilla Kemp
4 - Justine Dupont
5 - Juliette Lacome

Surfers will now travel down the coast for the upcoming Pro Anglet pres. by Oakley next week from August 21-26, 2018.

Tonight, a few of them will also be competing at the 25th annual Surf de Nuit Anglet, an amazing night surfing event with LED-lit boards starting at 9 p.m at Chambre d'Amour in Anglet.

Check out all the photos, videos and news articles from the Caraïbos Lacanau Pro right here!

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