GRANDE PLAGE, Lacanau / France - Tanner Gudauskas (USA), 26, has won the ASP 5-Star Soöruz Lacanau Pro over Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 16, in a fading two-to-three-foot swell. An exciting Final saw the two go head-to-head but eventually it was Gudauskas who solidified his lead, the Californian taking home an impressive US$20,000, plus 2,000 ranking points.
Gudauskas dominated the Final from start to finish, capitalizing on his powerful backside approach to win the event. The goofy-footer with a better positioning managed to surf the best waves and ripped apart the little rides on offer.
"It was fun, you know every heat I was like, 'Ok cool, I made it!'" an ecstatic Gudauskas said. "I wasn't looking too far ahead and the guys were ripping, Charly, Vincent and Leo were really in form all event. Just to win an event feels so good I haven't done that in a long time! The waves today were sort of like what we're used to surf at home, but still I feel a little lucky today."
Recent semifinalist at the Los Cabos Open of Surf, Gudauskas adds another strong result to his season tally and builds confidence towards the back half of the year.
"I'm off to Virginia Beach and will be back in Europe for the Azores," he added. "I'm traveling with my brother Patrick and Masatoshi (Ohno) and the three of us are just trying to get fired up to qualify this year. I love Europe, it's insane. I just love coming over here and hanging out, the vibe is so punk rock. I'll be back for sure!"
Fioravanti, reigning ASP European Junior Champion, proved today he has the technical baggage and competitive fire to take his act to the big leagues, placing runner-up to Gudauskas. The fast, high-flying Italian had trouble finding the right waves in the Final, but collects the biggest result of his young career.
"It's been an amazing week, I wasn't expecting to make it this far," Fioravanti said. "Final day I was still making heats and coming into the Final I felt like, 'This is it, I can actually do this!' Of course I'm a little bummed that I didn"t win, but second isn't too bad!"
Fresh off a fourth place finish in the Lacanau Pro Junior, Fioravanti kept his momentum going into this week and managed to outperform an impressive roster including Marc Lacomare, former WCT competitor Marlon Lipke (PRT) and Alex Ribeiro (BRA) among others.
"Tanner started off great in the Final and I was always playing catch-up," Fioravanti analyzed. "I've looked up to him and his brother and guys like that for a long time, so I knew it was going to be real tough. I'm stoked to have Jake [Patterson] in my corner, his coaching has been crucial all week."
Charly Martin (GLP), 24, defending event champion and current QS World No. 8, did not manage to repeat his 2013 performance and placed equal third.
"I made a few heats and was consistent all event, I have good boards and felt great here again," Martin reflected. "It's a little bit frustrating because today we didn't have the waves to really display what we can do and it really came down to a little bit of luck. Congrats to Tanner, he got a better wave and did the job."
Currently the highest-ranked French surfer on the QS, Martin is nearly in position to access the coveted Samsung Galaxy ASP World Championship Tour in 2015. With added pressure from defending his title in Lacanau, the young surfer from Guadeloupe handled the media and public's attention well and is now already looking ahead to the next events.
"I'm in my third year on tour and I feel more experienced," Martin said. "I'm trying not to make the same mistakes I made in the past and I'm happy with my season so far. People have been extremely supportive here and I'm stoked on everyone giving me kind words in and out of the water."
Marc Lacomare (FRA) 24, ranked No.9 2 before entering the Lacanau event, was in need of a breakthrough result in 2014. He placed equal third, narrowly defeated by Fioravanti in their Semifinal matchup.
"I really wanted that final, and it came down to the last 10 seconds, so I'm disappointed for sure," Lacomare admitted. "It's great to make a few heats though, I'm stoked to get a good rhythm going again. The conditions this week were pretty difficult, we surfed all kinds of waves, so it's great training for the next few events. "
Lacomare was in the lead for most of the 25-minute encounter. Sitting with priority, he let Fioravanti start on a very last wave, which gave the Italian the edge.
"I had priority, that mistake is all on me," Lacomare added. "To be honest I didn't really see any potential in that wave. Leo surfed it really well and kept his focus, so good on him."