CAPBRETON, France (Monday, December 31, 2012) - 2012 is just about to end and with it yet another exciting year for European surfing throughout the World. A growing audience of enthusiasts followed our athletes adventures around the globe, vibrated through our European summer leg of events and stayed in awe of the excitment of World and Regional Titles being decided.
Surprises, playful conditions, break-through performances, dredging barrels, injuries and sometimes deceptions made for drama and high-performance action all-year within the European pro-surfing community. Here's a little recap of what's to remember of 2012 before moving into the new year.
The prestigious ASP World Championship Tour just ended in Hawaii and with the 2012 rankings are sealed with Jeremy Flores (FRA) 24, placing 10th in his sixth year amongst the Elite and improving a little on his previous overall ranking. Flores started the year strong with a third place in the second event of the year, the Rip Curl Pro Bell's Beach and surfed a very consistent season reaching three-times the quarter-finals later in the year.
The young Reunion Island surfer has shown potential to outsurf the World's best this year and unfortunately suffered a couple last-seconds defeats that cost him a spot in the final rounds. He will enter his seventh consecutive season in 2013 and will be looking to confirm his excellent form when the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast approaches.
"I've had some ups and downs all year but end up 10th on the ranking over all so it's not bad at all." Flores stated. "I will keep on working hard to get better and just go on until the first event of the year on the Gold Coast. I'm going to hang out in Hawaii and wait for some big swells and getting ready and also enjoying my time off, some parties and good times with friends, I will be doing plenty other fun things. Thank's again to everyone for all the support all year, it means so much to me, Mahalo !"
Michel Bourez (PYF) celebrated his 27th birthday two days ago with a look back at a successful year that saw him place 14th on the WCT rankings. Despite a regression from his 2011 run, the Tahitian admitts to be happy with his performance and counts on improving again in the following year.
"This year was a transition season for me," Bourez stated. "I had to learn how to juggle my career with my private life and raising my baby, to find a balance between the two and still move forward.. Next year I'll be better prepared and I count on starting strong ! Happy Holidays everyone and thank's for the support !"
Peaking in Santa-Cruz last November with an excellent semi-final, Bourez impressed again with powerful gauges and deep barrels like the perfect 10 point ride he was awarded in Portugal a few weeks earlier for a fight he put up with the foam-ball in a Supertubes pit.
In Portugal everyone's eyes turned to Tiago Pires (PRT) 32, the local hero. Pires unfortunately couldn't find his rythmn in front of his home crowd, but earlier netted his highest performance of the season placing 5th in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. With a couple other 13th place finishes, re-qualification didn't seem to be an easy affair and Pires had to turn to the qualifying events to net the necessary points and stay on tour. An equal 9th in the Azores and a victory in the very last event of the European leg in Lanzarote were just about what he needed to officialize a fifth crusade within the coveted ASP Top 34.
"This year unfortunely was a very stressful one for me as I only got the confirmation I was staying on tour at Pipe after Yadin Nicol lost, one heat away from pushing me off Tour." Pires commented. "I felt that I've surfed my best in some events but lost in some close calls, a couple of 25th places that really changed my year around. I don't think I've performed to my top level all round but I do think I had some tough calls that didn't help my outcome. I was only going to go the Canaries if I didn't do any good on the WT European events, and that's exactly what happened ! Lucky for me, I found my form over there and that was my great moment this year. Somehow I found myself mentally tired during the triple crown and didn't gather any motivation which didn't help my cause in this last tip of the year. I hope 2013 is not as stressful as this year for me, I'm going to make sure I don't do the same errors."
In 2013, Glenn Hall (IRL) 31 will be solidating a strong 'Euro Force' on the Men's WCT after surfing his strongest season ever on the Star Tour. Originating from Australia, the Bundoran local opened his account with a win in the first-ever Star event in China last January, before moving into serious business with a runner-up finish in the ASP Prime Nike Lowers Pro in May. Two months later 'Micro' stroke back and won his first major event, the ASP Prime Mr Price Pro in Ballito, South-Africa. With a few more solid results last summer, a 5th in Newquay, 3rd in Lacanau and finally a 17th at Sunset last month, Hall finally could let everything go and enjoy his maiden qualification for the Men's Elite Tour.
"It's been an amazing year for me and finally reach a goal that I had been working towards for so long is a great feeling." Hall said. "Ever since Ballito everyone was saying 'you're qualified' and I don't believe it at all. So it was hard to listen to everyone say it all year and try to keep my head down and not take the foot off the gas. I didn't go as well in Hawaii as I hoped but the final result of qualifying was a dream come true. I'm looking forward to celebrating with my family and Friends for a few nights then knuckling down and training for 2013."
Pauline Ado (FRA) 21 also had to fight to earn a spot for the 2013 Women's ASP Top 17 through the Star events and in particular during the European summer leg. Placing 5th in the 6-Star events this season on six different occasions, Ado was still in desperate need of a stronger performance when came the SATA Airlines Azores Pro in September. She managed to power her way into the final heat against up-and-comer South-African Bianca Buitendag, netting a excellent runner-up finish and the 2,640 rankings points missing to her overall tally to make the cut. Pauline Ado will enter a third consecutive season on the WCT, a performance no other European female surfer has established before, also adding the European Women Title to her already tremendous record.
"It wasn't really a great season for me," Ado said. "I had a catastrophic start and it made it hard to get back into rythmn.. I didn't look at the rankings too closely but I knew I needed a big result in Azores if I ever wanted to qualify for 2013. I had people around me who really helped going through this last day of competition. My qualification got confirmed after the quarterfinal and I reached the final. I wish I had wonâ€¦ but a 2nd place and a spot on Tour for 2013 was way more than what I had the day before. So I was just HAPPY ! It was an intense, exhausting and incredible day for me. A day I won't forget !"
Justine Dupont (FRA) 21, didn't unfortunately re-qualify for the Women's WCT next year and will be forced to regroup and start from scratch again on the Star events. Dupont started her season with a traumatic injury that let her sit out the first event in Australia and had trouble overcoming her rehabilitation coming into the next couple of events.
Despite coming back to her best form by the end of the year, and winning the ASP 6-Star EDP Surf Pro Estoril, the young Lacanau rider couldn't net enough points in the remaining event to follow Ado's footsteps onto the 2013 CT. She did however qualify for the World Longboard Championships in China where she placed 5th with little to no preparation for it.
The qualifying series have seen their share of attempts to climb the International ladder towards the WCT and in the Men's field it was Joan Duru (FRA) 23, the strongest European finishing his campaign on the 51st step, closely followed by Romain Cloitre (FRA) 24. Duru notably placed runner-up at South-Africa's J-Bay 6-Star event, and 5th in the ASP Prime Hang Loose Pro in Brazil.
It was Charly Martin (GLP) 24, that claimed one the highest achievement for a European this year winning the ASP 6-Star Relentless Boardmasters defeating good friend Romain Cloitre in the final. Martin has once again pushed his surfing abilities in 2012 and continues to improve his ranking, making him a strong contender amongst the European crew for a new entry into the WCT in the near future.
With two victories in Vendee and Pantin, a 9th in Lacanau and a 5th in Zarautz, Marlon Lipke (DEU) 28 claims the 2012 European Title, making history as the first German surfer to ever claim this crown. An experienced competitor on the European scene, the Portuguese resident proved that maturity plays an important role in consistence and will continue to push his level next year to try and re-claim his spot on the World Championship Tour.
In the women's division, we regret the counter-performance of Johanne Defay (FRA), Maud Le Car (FRA), Cannelle Bulard (REU) among others demonstrating their talent against the World's Best Junior athletes in Bali for example, we're hoping to see more and more surfers get onto the International scene and claim their ticket to the World Tour.
Cannelle Bulard finally claimed her maiden European Junior Title after a couple of runner-up positions in the past few years. The stylish goofy-footer battled a knee injury early in the season to finally get back to her feet and claim four excellent results throughout the season: she started with a second in Hossegor, a third in Royan, won her third event in Sopelana and qualified for a final she couldn't surf in Lacanau due to the recurring injury, placing fourth nonetheless.
Following an exciting title race that last all the way to the final event of the season in Lacanau, it was Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR) 19, that claimed the Men's Junior Title. The talented Moroccan went on to participate in and win one of his first 6-Star events in Zarautz, out-surfing numerous seasoned pros along the way. Ending his season with a third place in the World Juniors in Indonesia, Ramzi Boukhiam steps in as the legitimate future star of European surfing.
"I'm super happy with the way my season turned out," Boukhiam reflected. "My initial goal was to win the Junior Title and I managed to reach even higher. I started well at the Volcom Pipe Pro and then placed second in the Chiko Pro Junior in Australia. I won two Pro Juniors in Europe, Royan and Galicia, placed third in the World Juniors and even won the 6-Star in Zarautz !! Right now I'm going to take a little break before starting working on my shoulder injury to come back in great form next year. My win in the Basque Country opened the door for me to enter the Primes in 2013 but I also plan on surfing in the major Pro Juniors.."
Europe's longboarding is also prosperous with eight men representing the Old Continent at the World Title deciding event in China and Edouard Delpero (FRA) took top honors with his 5th place result in Hainan. The talented twenty-two year-old who surfs both short and longboards proved he's a legitimate threat to the World's Best and will be trying to keep building momentum next season.
"I'm happy we even had an event," said Delpero. ""We almost didn't this year and it would have been very hard for all of us. I loved China, unfortunately we didn't score great surf but the potential of the place is incredible and hopefully next year it'll be pumping ! We had a great crew of Frenchies there and the atmosphere was great.. I didn't have any pressure in the event, but I was secretly hoping for a final against my brother ! I did fall when I shoudln't have against Kai Sallas but a fifth is a great result for me, and it's conforting me in thinking I deserve to be there with the best guys. My goal is to win the European Title next year, and hopefully make the Top 4 on the WLT !"
The ASP Europe Team would like to thank you all for your continuous support throughout the whole season, and wish you all an excellent and happy new year, full of surfing, travels, discoveries and interesting encounters !!