GRANDE PLAGE, Lacanau / France â€“ The ASP 1-Star Lacanau Pro Junior started today in clean 2-3-foot (1 meter) waves. Despite complications on site that delayed the start of Round 2, surfers took on playful A-frames to whittle the field down to 64 on day one.
Arne Bergwinkl (DEU) 19, opened fire first in Heat 1 of the second round, capitalizing on the perfect little waves on offer. The young German surfer has been stepping up his game each event this season, and will look to reassert his excellent form when the event starts again Sunday.
â€œIt was fun, the waves are pretty good,â€ Bergwinkl said. â€œWith the technical problems there's been this morning I had a good freesurf before my first heat and it's been firing all day. I got a sick left, with a couple nice turns and finished with a layback snap.â€
Coming into this event ranked 14th in Europe, Bergwinkl has made major improvements on his surfing since last season, which catapulted him to the forefront of the regional ladder.
â€œI want to keep improving my results,â€ Berwinkl said. â€œI'd like to make the Quarters, just one round further. I'm taking things one heat at a time.â€
Polynesian phenom Ariihoe Tefaafana (PYF) 19, found his feet quickly for his first outing at Lacanau, selecting the right waves at a tricky time for the tide.
â€œI tried to keep busy and catch a lot of waves,â€ Tefaafana said. â€œIn the last few minutes I had confidence sitting in first and I got that good one and had a lot of fun.â€
Far from his tropical island of Tahiti, Tefaafana didn't seem to mind the conditions and adapted perfectly to the changing conditions. Following in the footsteps of the many Polynesian surfers who come compete on European grounds, Tefaafana is eager to showcase his talent.
â€œIn the heat of the action I didn't really mind the cold water to be honest,â€ he reflected. â€œI used to surf the Australian tour, but seeing the other boys do good here has motivated me to come over. Michel Bourez (PYF) talked me into it as well, so far I think I made the right choice!â€
Miguel Blanco (PRT) 18, was another strong surfer in the lineup in Round 2, netting one of the single highest scores of the day with an excellent 8.50 out of a possible 10.
â€œI felt super good, I got a couple fun waves despite the high tide so all good!â€ Blanco said. â€œI wanted to be Top 5 this year in the rankings but I've had a tough start. There are a couple more events so it's not over yet, and I'm going to do my best for sure.â€
Probably the most dynamic country on the European surfing scene right now, Portugal has been breeding the next generation of talents of which Blanco is sharing the top spots with the likes of Joao Kopke (PRT), 19.
In a difficult matchup against South Africa's Dylan Lightfoot (ZAF), Kopke managed to impose his powerful backhand to dominate the proceedings.
â€œI really like this wave, there's good power and I always feel comfortable here,â€ Kopke said. â€œThere always are good international surfers in the Junior [events] and it's awesome to surf against them. These are guys we all look up to, Dylan won the international gromsearch a couple years ago so he's definitely hard to beat.â€
Contest officials have decided to reconvene Sunday morning at 8am for the first call of the day. When the event resumes, up first will be Natxo Gonzalez (EUK), Jacome Correia (PRT), Arne Bergwinkl (DEU) and Asier Iriondo (EUK) in Heat 1 of the Round of 64, which will see the event's top seeds debut their Lacanau campaign.