The E.Leclerc Pont L'Abbé Junior Pro La Torche ran through a critical day of action in decent conditions to set up the Quarterfinals of both the men and women events today in La Torche. Surfers took on two-to-three foot surf in an extremely windy lineup and competed for their slots in the coveted man-on-man matchups starting in the Quarters.
"We're in an ideal scenario now with the Quarters left for Sunday in what we expect to be the best surf we've had this whole week," Rob Gunning, Tour Manager said. "It's going to be a very interesting finals day with good matchups and possibly upsets that could shake up the rankings quite a bit."
Local Surfer Aurélien Buffet Lights Crowds Up with Round 5 Win
The young goofy foot from La Torche had the whole beach on their toes this afternoon as he faced Kauli Vaast, Stanley Norman and Adur Amatriain in Round 5. After a difficult first few minutes, Buffet found one of the best waves of the afternoon and went to town on it, posting a 7.00 point ride to get back in the fight.
Vaast seemed well in control of the heat and while the other three surfers fought for second place, the situation took an exciting turn in the final minute when the local surfer found another long wave to finally post a backup score. The number came out as a 5.93, enough to steal the heat win from the Tahitian and the public erupted and came to congratulate their hometown hero.
"I made a big mistake at the beginning trying to surf a terrible wave when everyone else got decent scores," he said. "Thankfully I got that 7 later but I still had some work to do and finally I got that tiny wave at the end to win the heat. The support here is incredible from our whole team, there's so much positive energy and it boosts me for sure. It's awesome to have an event here and I'm stoked that we're able to show our waves, our surfers and where we live to everyone."
Co-Leaders Vaast & Becret Advance in Second
Justin Becret suffered a similar fate and could only advance in second place as another Frenchman, Téva Bouchgua took top honors. Bouchgua took a similar approach on the lefts, surfing frontside to a solid 13.13 heat total and reached the quarters for the first time in his young career.
"It feels good to be making heats, especially when conditions are tough like this," he stated. "Rankings will change, Justin is up there now but it could be someone else in the next event so I'm just focused on my job and not who I'm surfing against. I'm in my final season as a junior so I really want to make a Final and try to win it."
Lopes and Turner Confirm Excellent Form
European rankings leader Mafalda Lopes and No. 2 Ellie Turner advanced in first out Heats 3 and 2 respectively and confirmed they're the current two best surfers under 18 in Europe. Turner admitted to feel comfortable in the familiar windy peaks of La Torche and stated her intentions for finals day.
"Waves are pretty tough so I'm really happy to make it through," she said. "On the sets it's actually some fun lefts, and at home we get super windy conditions as well so I'm quite used to surf them. I'm feeling great and I'd love to go all the way but there are a lot of girls who are surfing really well so we'll see how it goes."
In the women's field, unfortunately the last hopes of a local surfer performing rested on Maelys Jouault's shoulders, but she couldn't maintain her lead in Heat 3 and was eliminated in equal 9th position.
The day's final heat delivered fireworks as Elisa Cazenave and Janire Gonzalez Etxabarri went blow for blow in the high-tide peaks and posted good to excellent scores. Eventually it was the French surfer Cazenave who came out on top with 14.03, the day's highest heat total.
"It was a fun day today, you just had to be on the right waves," Cazenave said. "My first heat was a close one but thankfully I managed to come back with a good score at the end. I'm learning from these sorts of mistake and hopefully will not repeat them."
Another Fun-Filled Day for Beach-Goers in La Torche
Activations all day on the beach included Parkour demos, hip hop, Thai Boxing, surf lessons and a showcase of adaptive surfing for people with disabilities.
Event officials and surfers will be back at 8:30 a.m Sunday to launch the finals of the event.
Tune in from May 1-5, 2019 and check out all the photos, videos and updates right here on worldsurfleague.com!