The first-ever E.Leclerc Pont L'Abbé Junior Pro La Torche launched today in solid four-to-six foot surf with moderate side-onshore winds. Competition unfolded on the Northern side of the point with long lefts breaking far outside and some fun reforms breaking on the inside section.
The women paddled out early this morning in clean three-to-five foot surf. Drama struck right away with the surprise early elimination of the current European Junior title race leader Melania Diaz.
Ellie Turner was the first surfer to find a good score in the clean lineup. The British surfer found similarities in conditions from the other side of the channel and posted a good 6.83 for her backhand effort on a fun left.
"It took me a while to get two scores but it went ok, there were some good waves out there," she said. "It was a bit hard to get back out after catching a wave cause you'd end up in that rippy spot but it was fun. It's my first time visiting this part of France and I like it so far, it's really pretty."
Brittany surfer Maelys Jouault successfully launched her La Torche campaign as well with an easy win into Round Two. Originally from the Northern coast of the region, the talented junior spent two years training at the high-performance center in La Torche and knows the spot perfectly. A breakout win in Biscarrosse last year put her name on the map and Jouault will look to claim another big result, this time on home turf.
"It's awesome to have an event up here in the North, it's definitely a big change for everyone coming from the Southwest and the other European countries," she said. "I feel like we have a little bit of an advantage in these conditions, it's quite hard to read and the lineup is not easy to navigate. Winning here would be a dream come true but each event is tough so I'll just try to make heats one at a time."
By the time the women's Round One wrapped and the men paddled out, the wind had come up slightly stronger and made conditions that much harder to dissect.
Martinique's Mael Laborde did not struggle whatsoever to find the right opportunities in a moving lineup and posted the day's highest single number, an excellent 8.33. The regular foot went vertical for a couple of big turns and linked the whole wave together extremely well to impress the judges' panel.
"There were some big sets and a lot of water moving so it wasn't easy out there, we spent a lot of time paddling," he explained. "I chose to seat a little bit inside and that's where I got my really good left. I love it here, the people are super nice and we have good waves so I can't complain."
Local La Torche surfer Hugo Tosetti scrapped through a close Round Two encounter but managed to advance in front of his home crowd. The young surfer whose image has been used all over town on big billboards promoting the event will try to balance this new-found popularity and the job at hand when competition resumes.
"I've lived here since I was 7 and learnt to surf here," he said. "It's so cool to have such a big event on this spot and to see the best Europeans out there. I've been competing on the juniors only for two years and so far I haven't had a big result but this would be a great time to start. I feel like my knowledge of the spot will come in handy, I noticed the other guys in my heat today really struggled to paddle back out and sit in the right spot."
Event officials will reconvene Thursday at 9 a.m and reassess conditions at La Torche.
Tune in from May 9-13, 2018 and check out all the photos, videos and updates right here!