The E.Leclerc Pont L'Abbé Junior Pro La Torche wrapped up today in great little waves. Here's a breakdown of the event's final day.
Carrique and Vaast, both attacking the lefts on their forehand, were the clear standouts all week, posting numerous high scores on their way to the Final. The show got underway in the opening minute of their exchange, with back-to-back long waves, and this time it was Carrique coming out on top with an excellent 8.33 over Vaast's 7.33.
The surfer from Biarritz, Carrique went on to dominate the Final from start to finish as he backed up his main score right away with a 6.93. Vaast multiplied his attempts to get back in the lead but couldn't quite produce the excellent surfing he's been showing all week and Carrique was carried up the beach victorious for the first time on the WSL European Junior Qualifying Series.
"I'm over the moon to finally take out my first Pro Junior," he said. "It's been a long time coming and I savor it with all my friends here in La Torche. It's never easy to come up against your friends but once in the water we all fight for the win and it's fun. I had a blast here all week, Ian Fontaine has been helping us a lot and we surfed great waves by ourselves."
This victory propelled Carrique from 10th up to the 3rd spot on the regional rankings after three stops.
Vaast came to Brittany a co-leader of the European rankings with Becret and will strengthen his position with another major result on his quest to a second regional title.
"I was never in rhythm in that Final unfortunately," he explained. "I was always on the wrong wave of the set and Tiago was ripping on all the right ones. I'm going home to Tahiti now and I'm stoked to be in the lead but there are a few more events this season so the job isn't quite done yet. I'll be surfing in Chile for the first time soon too for QS event, I can't wait for this new experience. And of course I'll be back here next year to try to win it this time!"
Buffet signed the best performance from a local surfer in this event, and claimed his career-highest finish as well on his home spot of La Torche. The goofy foot produced excellent surfing and after a deceiving 33rd in Espinho and a better 9th in Caparica, the surfer from Brittany finally had a breakthrough result in his final season as a junior.
"That was a huge week for me and I prepared intensively for it with my coaches," he said. "With my bad start of the year I actually felt like I had nothing to lose and I could relax more and enjoy my surfing. I have to give it to my coaches Maël L'Helgoualc'h and Florian Tallouarn for all the work they put in and how well they train and prepare us for these events. It was epic to have everyone on the beach supporting me and I couldn't thank them all enough."
Portuguese up-and-comer Lopes arrived in Brittany leading the European rankings and blasted through her rounds, collecting four consecutive heat wins with good scores. Turner, sitting second on the rankings, had a similar road to the final except for a second place in her opening round, and logically both surfers met in the Final.
Lopes wasted no time and found a great wave in the opening minutes to lay down her progressive turns and put a solid number on the board. The young goofy foot perfectly linked her maneuvers and never looked threatened in the Final. On the other hand, Turner struggled to find herself on the right waves and couldn't quite show her potential as surfing on her backhand seemed trickier. Her 10 attempts barely reached the average and her final heat total of 10.53 couldn't rival Lopes' 12.73.
After an equal 5th in Espinho and a runner-up at home in Caparica, Lopes claims her first-ever WSL event win in La Torche and further extends her lead on the European rankings heading into a long break before the next step in Sopela this summer.
"Winning an event has been my goal since I started competing on the junior tour so I'm beyond happy to finally make it happen," she said. "Being No. 1 in Europe is a dream come true and I really want to win the title at the end of the year. I loved being here this week and we had great waves just before the event started, it's really a wonderful place."
Turner continued to show she's one of the very best surfers in Europe under 18 years old as she reached her fifth two-surfer Final in La Torche. Unfortunately the final win continues to elude the young surfer from Bude but the regular foot is poised to lift the winner's trophy soon if she can keep her excellent form going into the summer leg.
"I'm disappointed I couldn't get any good waves in the Final but overall really happy with this result," she said. "The wind came up a bit onshore and waves became small and crumbly so it wasn't easy but I did what I could in that heat."
Turner and Lopes had previously defeated Nerea Donaire and Elisa Cazenave in the semis. Both surfers claimed their best-ever result with an equal third in La Torche and will rocket up the regional rankings.
With the completion of the E.Leclerc Pont L'Abbé Junior Pro La Torche, the European rankings continue to evolve, here's the new current Top 5:
Junior surfers will now head home and have a couple of months off to finish their school year before the next stop on the European Junior Qualifying Series, the Junior Pro Sopela in July.
Tune in from May 1-5, 2019 and check out all the photos, videos and updates right here on worldsurfleague.com!