In less than 12 hours the French Rendez-Vous of Surfing will kick off in Anglet, France. Europe's best talent, plus World Champion Italo Ferreira and Japan's Kanoa Igarashi, will compete in what is the first of two stops of the 2020 WSL Euro Cup of Surfing.
With fun beachbreaks and sunny skies predicted, all the action take place in a one day of heated competition. Here's who to watch and what we can expect as competing surfing returns to the Europe:
The World Champ Straps In
Italo Ferreira will wear the Jeep Leader's Jersey in the French Rendez-Vous of Surfing. The highest ranked surfer on the planet, the World Champ is coming off of an electric performance at last week's Onda do Bem, he's clearly the man to beat at the moment. He's also been dropping a series of web clips at home in Brazil during lockdown and from a recent trip to the Maldives, proving he had lost none, and gained plenty, of his edge.
The Anglet beachbreaks perfectly match Italo's explosive surfing and Europe has always been a happy hunting ground. Bottom line, if you want to win the first stop of the Euro Cup of Surfing, you'll need to beat the current World Champ.
The Tahitians Are Coming
The Tahitian contingent, spearheaded by the veteran Michel Bourez, and supplemented by the youthful promise of Kauli Vaast and Vahine Fierro, will be a force to be reckoned with at the French Rendez-Vous.
After dealing with a prolonged locked down, the trio has enjoyed the last two months of epic swells at home in Tahiti. Collectively, they've all been scoring bombs at Teahupo'o and are a massive support for one another.
And while Tahitian perfection might not be the best preparation for heated European beachbreak competition at Anglet, all three know these waves inside out. Vaast is a two-time European Junior Champion, Fierro is a World Junior Champion and Bourez has been enjoying the French surf scene his whole career. They'll be determined, fit, focused and there for each other. It's a dangerous combination.
French hero, defending Quik Pro France Champion and Pipe Master Jeremy Flores has been forced to withdraw due to an ankle injury. But there are plenty of locals in the draw who will be dangerous due to their knowledge of the break.
CT veteran Pauline Ado was born and raised in Anglet, also known as Little California, and no other athlete knows the intricacies of the shifting sands of the event site like the graceful natural footer.
Ramzi Boukhiam has also lived in Anglet since his family moved from Morocco when he was a teenager. The powerful, 6'1" goofy-footer bagged a QS5,000 win in Brazil early in the year and has been hammering the local banks for the last three months. After 10 years on the QS, he'll have no fear of the CT surfers in the field.
Local stars and in sync Tahitians are no doubt dangerous, but it is always to the elite CT stars that we have to look to as favorites over the two legs of the Euro Cup of Surfing. We've already outlined the threat of a certain World Champion, but you can expect Kanoa Igarashi, Leonardo Fioravanti and Frederico Morais to be the surfers pushing the Brazilian the hardest in the Men's division.
Igarashi has already tasted high-level competition at the Rumble at the Ranch and has his European beachbreak act is dialed in thanks to his home base in Portugal.
Morais and Fioravanti share coach Richard "Dog" Marsh, who has lived in Anglet for over a decade, and he should add some local knowledge to their game. Italo will be wearing the Jeep Leader Jersey as top seed, but he'll know it is these one of this trio that have the chance of taking it from him.
Women's top seed Johanne Defay is the only CT surfer in the field and will be a hands down favorite. She knows the Anglet beachbreaks well and the World No. 8 and is itching for a competitive return.
Complete List Of Confirmed Surfers:
Maud Le Car