PLAYA DE SOPELANA, Euskadi â€“ Basque Country (Saturday, July 27, 2013) - Last night's stormy episode brought a beautiful clean swell this morning upon the Sopelana beachfront with 3-4Ft surf breaking on the shore. The Men's competition recommenced and ran through the fourth round and quarter-finals to decide the last eight men standing in this ASP 1-Star Sopela O'Neill Pro Junior pres. by Bar El Penon.
More face to the waves allowed for spectacular power surfing from top European Juniors including Ian Fontaine (FRA) 20, who brought a little bit of Brittany to the picturesque Basque coastal town of Sopelana. Fontaine found similarities with his homespot and felt as ease in the shifting peaks of the incoming tide to display his signature power turns.
"I managed to score backside which isn't that often so I'm stoked !" Fontaine said. "I was a little stressed out and some waves I just wasted but I found a couple nice ones including that one in the dying seconds to take the lead. I was talking with Gaspard from Brittany too and we were saying that indeed the wave looks a lot like a left I have at home so I felt good fighting that rip and trying to find the right spot in the lineup !"
Two different style of surfing were opposed today between lightfoots taking it to the air and the bigger guys pushing harder on turns, much like Fontaine who destroyed a couple lefts and sprayed generously around.
"It's not that I'm that bad at doing airs, but yeah when the section is right I just love to hit it hard right in the pocket that's just where I have the most fun !" Fontaine continued.
Diego Mignot (FRA) 17, navigated discretely through the early rounds only to come out with a bang in quarter-final No.1 this afternoon, launching into an impressive superman air. Counting on a progressive repertoire paired with classic on-the-rail surfing, Mignot will be one to watch when competition starts tomorrow for the final day.
"That air was fun, but a medium score cause I only did that," Mignot said. "That other wave at 7.00 was better with a couple good turns in.. I had a hard time finding some other good ones, Vasco got a couple and I didn't really know where to sit I was a little lost out there but happy to get through !"
Mignot's single wave heat could only afford him a second qualifying spot for the semis, and it was Portuguese frontrunner Vasco Ribeiro 18, that took out the heat with two solid scores on the board. Coming from a recent injury and a deceiving first event in France, Ribeiro has found his groove back and is looking lethal in the Sopelana shorebreak.
"In Royan I wasn't feeling too well it was my first event back," Ribeiro stated. "Right now I'm kind of in a dark horse position and it's really motivating compared to the last years where I had an excellent start with a win and needed to stay on top. Now I'm feeling a lot better and I hope the waves will cooperate tomorrow, it should be fun !"
Polynesian phenom Mateia Hiquily (PYF) 17, capped off today's action with yet another stellar performance advancing into the semis ahead of Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) and current rankings leader Tom Cloarec (FRA). Hiquilly kept building his confidence level throughout this event and will be looking to confirm his new found form when competition enters its final day tomorrow.
"I chose a peak cause I saw a few waves there, but when I saw the others guys sit elsewhere I started doubting my choice," Hiquilly said. "Then I started having scores, little ones then medium then a good 7 and finally I was sure I had taken the right decision ! I'm just getting more and more used to the conditions here and feeling comfortable, it's the first time I get to the semis of a Pro Junior and I feel like I know what's needed to score so I'll just keep surfing one heat at a time and I hope I can go all the way !"
The final fourth quarter delivered its share of drama with Andy Criere (FRA) current runner-up in the rankings committing an interference, Criere had to wait to the very last instants of the 25mn bout to find the average score he needed to advance. Portugal's Tomas Fernandes (PRT) wins the heat and completes the draw for the semi-finals to be ran tomorrow.
The Final call will be at 7:45am Sunday morning for the Men's and Women's Semis and Finals !
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 aspeurope.com/sopelana2013.
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.