SAN SEBASTIAN, Euskadi – The ASP Grade-1 Vans Pro Junior kicked off today at San Sebastian in the Basque country with two to three foot (0.5 to 1 meter) waves greeting first rounds for an action-packed first day of competition where no less than twenty-nine heats were wrapped-up.
From event low seeds to late-entry favorites, some of Europe’s best Under-21 male surfers displayed another stunning show for the numerous summer crowds at one of San Sebastian’s most popular beaches, Playa Gros.
With the wind switching from light off-shore to fare on-shore direction throughout the day, all competitors had to adapt to the changing conditions going from clean opening left and right-handers to tricky wind-blown and unpredictable sets. Most of the favorites, thanks to their heat tactics experience, were able to avoid an upset elimination, big names Nicolau Von Rupp (Algarve, DEU), Medi Veminardi (REU) and Adrien Toyon (REU) taking a commanding lead over the pack by day’s end.
Medi Veminardi (REU), 18, was in excellent form for his Round 1 test against event outsiders, the Reunion Island born surfer posting a couple of solid scores to advance and keep his Vans Pro Junior win hopes alive. Veminardi, whose last event win was a year ago in the near-by town of Sopelana, is considered a serious regional title contender and showed he could match expectations today.
“The conditions were pretty good during my heat,” Veminardi said. “I surfed on the second sand bank and I got some pretty consistent waves and felt good on my board. It’s been quite a bit of time since I last surfed in an ASP event and I am looking to get through a few heats here and just get back into contest rhythm.”
Veminardi, who started the 2009 ASP European Junior tour with an equal 5th in Portugal last April, remains in contention for the regional crown but will have to catch-up with current ratings’ leaders Joachim Guichard (DEN) and Marc Lacomare (FRA) respectively rated No. 1 and No. 2 before the Vans Pro Junior.
“I am not thinking of any title at the moment because things are just restarting,” Veminardi said. “The events in August will be crucial with a couple of Grade-3 rated contests and one Grade-2 event so everything will take place by then. It’s good to compete again here and get the feeling right.”
Walking in Veminardi’s footsteps today were other Reunion Island born standout and German rising competitor Nicolau Von Rupp (DEU), both going over the 15.00 point mark to control their respective battles and join event top seeds in Round 3.
Von Rupp, who just graduated from high school and has started touring around the world on the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS), made the trip to San Sebastian to focus back on his main goal this year, the end-of-the-year regional ratings’ Top 4 that would give him a berth into the 2009 ASP World Junior Championships (WJC).
Von Rupp’s 15.77 point heat result gave the German surfer some precious confidence towards his encounter with event top seeds Ian Fontaine (FRA) and Omer Bar (ISR) coming-up in Round 3. With all big names scheduled to start in the ASP Grade-1 Vans Pro Junior tomorrow from 9 AM, the second day promises to bring another intense show while all girls of the Vans Pro Junior take their chance in Round 1 of their division.
VANS PRO JUNIOR UPCOMING ROUND 3
Heat 1: David Leboulsh (FRA), Hugo Palmarini (REU), Pierre Valentin Laborde (FRA), Paco Divers (FRA)
Heat 2: Martin Dambreville (FRA), Luka Guichard (DEN), Mario Azurza (EUK), Javier Ascanio (CNY)
Heat 3: Vasco Ribeiro (PRT), Felix Delanne (FRA), Justin Delanne (FRA), Adrien Toyon (REU)
Heat 4: Marcos Sansegundo (EUK), Luis Eyre (GBR), Jayce Robinson (GBR), Manex Otegui (EUK)
Heat 5: Lyndon Wake (GBR), Frederico Morais (PRT), Asier Makeda (EUK), Andrea Rech (GLP)
Heat 6: Igor Muniain (EUK), Unai Arizeta (EUK), Juan Merodio Velasco (EUK), Lewis St John (BRB)
Heat 7: Ian Fontaine (FRA), Omer Bar (ISR), Nicolau Von Rupp (DEU), Andy Criere (FRA)
Heat 8: Marc Lacomare (FRA), Borja Agote (EUK), Jules Thomet (FRA), Nicolas Remi (FRA)
Heat 9: Jatyr Berasaluce (EUK), Etan Egiguren (EUK), Harry Delanne (FRA), Ander Mendiguren (EUK)
Heat 10: Rudy Maréchal (FRA), Ander Ugarte (EUK), Felipe Alberto (BRA), Maxime Comet (FRA)
Heat 11: Pablo Pola (FRA), Tom Neuschwanger (FRA), Yann Guyonneau (FRA), Ramzi Boukiam (MAR)
Heat 12: Hugo Dubosc (FRA), Fransisco Alves (PRT), Medi Veminardi (REU), Rui Henriques (PRT)
Heat 13: TBA
Heat 14: TBA
Heat 15: TBA
Heat 16: TBA