PLAYA DE SAN JUAN, Teguise / Lanzarote - Canary Islands - On the eve of the final day of competition in the 2014 ASP Europe Pro Junior Series, tension and excitement rose up another level in Lanzarote when the event decided the last four men and women in contention for the event crown.
In what became the most anticipated heat of the Teguise 2014 Franito Pro Junior, after the successive defeats of Cloarec and Bisso, Miguel Blanco (PRT) 18, turned heads with incredible surfing to net one of the day's top heat totals of 16.83 out of 20.
â€œWith a 7 on the first wave where I fell, I felt like my surfing was there,â€ Blanco admitted. â€œThen when I got that inside wave under priority and scored the 9.50 that was it. I'm stoked for Vasco, it's been a long time coming for a Portuguese to bag the European title.â€
Advancing into the semis ahead of the last contender in the regional title race, Blanco indirectly served the coveted European Junior Title to good friend and fellow Portuguese Vasco Ribeiro (PRT) 19.
â€œIt's such a surprise ! I didn't even know the quarters were running today, so I had no idea all of this was going on,â€ a suprised Ribeiro admitted. â€œI'm so happy, finally I get the title I've wanted it for a long time.â€
Not only Ribeiro asserted himself on top of the European ladder, but the talented regular-footer will lead the regional charge into the upcoming ASP World Junior, held in Ericeira next month.
â€œI can't wait, Ribeira d'Ilhas is a wave where I surf a lot and I really look forward to competing against the best Juniors in the World at a wave I particularly enjoy.â€ Ribeiro added. â€œIt's one of the toughest events in the world, but for sure a great challenge.â€
Andy Criere (FRA) 19, created the day's first upset in defeating title contender Tom Cloarec (FRA) in the second quarterfinal. Criere, who's had an up-and-down season and a sole strong result in Sopela, will look to carry momentum into the final day Saturday.
â€œTom has more experience than I do in a man-on-man situation so I tried to do what I could, but I didn't take too many risks,â€ Criere stated. â€œI'm super motivated and determined to reach the goal I set to myself.â€
Luke Dillon (GBR) 19, qualified for the semifinals for the first time in his young career, advancing ahead of Nelson Cloarec (FRA) in a one-way quarterfinal bout. The talented British surfer posted a solid 15.67 heat total to leave his opponent in a combination situation.
â€œI've surfed against Nelson a few times this year and he's had me, so I had to get him one back today,â€ Dillon said. â€œIt was a good heat, when I first looked I was a bit scared, cause I've been training here for five weeks with Will Davey (GBR) and I've never really surfed it at dead high tide. But I got my first wave and tried to focus on getting a second.â€
â€œI felt really good at the start of the year, but I just haven't got into the proper thinking,â€ Dillon, who's best result so far was a 17th place, added. â€œI came into this one all relaxed and it all came together. I need to focus for two more heats and we'll see what happens.â€
Tessa Thyssen (GLP) 17, was in a dominant form in her quarter-final, topping the last Canarian in contention Marcela Machado (ESP) 17, for a spot in the first semifinal of the event. Thyssen put the final nail in her opponent's coffin with an excellent 8.90 in the last minute of their exchange, courtesy of a huge frontside snap right in the powerful section of the wave.
â€œI'm not patient enough in general so I forced myself to wait for the bomb,â€ Thyssen explained. â€œThat last wave was super nice, I wanted to spice things up a bit and decided to throw the tail. I was like 'don't fall don't fall' and luckily I made it and it was a good score.â€
â€œFor sure I'm thinking about the title race constantly,â€ Thyssen, leader of the rankings and in an ideal position for a maiden title added. â€œBut you know before every heat I remind myself of what I need to do and it refocuses me on the real objective, which is to just win the next heat.â€
Current European No. 2 Kim Veteau (GLP) 17, found herself in a critical situation in her quarterfinal, behind in second place and needing a backup. The talented and mature competitor from Guadeloupe, without priority at the time, decided to sit in the inside away from the heat leader, and managed to find the winning ride within moments of the final horn. Veteau advanced into the second semifinal, to keep her hopes of a regional title alive.
â€œIt was complicated, and unfortunately my gameplan fell short when the lineup really changed mid-heat,â€ Veteau stated. â€œIt's only 20 minutes so you need to be able to adapt very quickly and change your strategy, that's what I did and I'm happy it worked out.â€
Only a handful of points behind her good friend and fellow Guadeloupean Thyssen, Veteau eyes a potential final showdown for both the event crown and the 2014 European Junior Title.
â€œThat's what we've been thinking about with Tessa for sure,â€ Veteau added. â€œA final against each other to decide the title would be amazing, but I know there's another heat before that and I'll do my maximum. My main goal is the qualification, but the title could sure be the icing on the cake.â€
The final call will be made at 9:30am tomorrow to reassess conditions and decide of the day's schedule.