Sopela O'neill Men's Pro Junior

Junior Air Force Lead the Way on Day 1 of O'Neill Sopela Pro Junior !


PLAYA DE SOPELANA, Euskadi – Basque Country (Thursday, July 25, 2013) - Second stop on the European Men and Women Junior series, the ASP 1-Star O'Neill Sopela Pro Junior pres. by El Peñon started today in clean 2Ft surf at Sopelana's main beach. An early 8am start saw the Men's round 1 & 2, as well as four heats of Round 3 completed in fun waves and surfers were eager to get their Basque campaign going.

Mateia Hiquily (PYF) 17, dominated both his Round 1 & 2 confrontations today and claimed the highest single wave score of the event so far, a near-perfect 9.33 for a massive frontside air-reverse on a little lefthander.

"I was sitting out there comfortable with already two good scores while the other guys were scratching to get better than a 2," Hiquily said. "I was waiting for a good wave and I saw that one with a good little ramp so I hit it !"

The young polynesian was revealed to the European crowd last year in this very event and seems particularly at ease in the Basque beachbreaks. Hiquily is focused on the very top of the rankings, and looking deadly so far.

"I got to the quarters here last year so my goal is obviously to go even further this time around, and I'm hoping to get on the podium, maybe even try to win that one why not !"

Gatien Delahaye (GLP) 16, was in-form as well today netting an excellent 8.50 out of a possible 10. He was rewarded for taking risks in the air repeatedly and made a strong impression before the top seeds enter the show in Round 3.

"It was fun !" Delahaye stated. "Waves really improved compared to lunchtime when we had a break, I spotted those little wedges perfect for airs so I tried my luck and it went my way ! I've been working a lot on my air game in all sorts of conditions and I just love it, so to see it paying off like this I'm super happy !"

Leonardo Fioravanti> (ITA) 15, also made the best out of a tricky lineup scoring in the excellent range to win two heats and qualify for the third round in Sopelana. The talented Italian surfer took advantage of his lightweight to throw his fins out and show the judges he's a serious contender.

"I had a pretty good heat," Fioravanti said. "I entered late so I was in the first round, but it doesn't really matter, at the end of the day if you surf good you're going to get through anyways so those are warm up heats. I had some fun waves this morning at high tide on the inside, and thankfully the swell picked up again this afternoon for my next heat."

Having already made a name for himself on the international scene after winning the international Gromsearch final and other events worldwide, Fioravanti is yet to make it to the final stages of an ASP Pro Junior in Europe and will try to build momentum from an excellent first day in the Basque Country.

"I wasn't really sure if there was going to be a World Juniors Final, but apparently there is, so I'm going to do all the Junior events this year and try to qualify to hopefully make it !"

Next call tomorrow morning will be at 7:15am for both Men and Women to decide for the second day's schedule. Forecasts call for a slight decrease in swell size and lighter winds.

The 2013 Sopelana Pro Junior is scheduled from July 25-28, 2013 at Playa de Sopelana, Euskadi - Basque Country. For all results, photos, video highlights, press releases and LIVE webcast, log on to

The Sopelana Pro Junior is made possible with the support of the following event partners: Peña Txuri Surf Eskola, Ayuntamiento de Sopelana, Euskadi Turismo, Diputacion Foral Vizcaya, Surfing Euskadi-Basque Country, Red Bull, Bar El Peñon, Euskal Herriko Surf Federazioa, Bizkaiko Surf Federazioa amongst others.