SOPELANA, Euskadi– Justine Dupont (Lacanau, FRA), 18, and Maxime Huscenot (REU), 17, claimed the ASP Grade-1 Sopelana Pro Junior today in the Basque Country, both champions taking their first title of the year in tricky two to three foot (0.5 to 1 m) waves at Sopelana. Respectively dominating the women’s and the men’s divisions, both event winners were able to finish atop an impressive 150-surfer field including some of Europe’s best Under-21 competitors to clinch valuable ratings’ points and solid confidence for the upcoming major ASP Pro Junior events.
Maxime Huscenot, the reigning ASP European Junior champion who was returning to competition in Europe after several months off tour for school obligations, showed he was back for good and in excellent form, the Reunion Island born surfer posting the event’s highest heat result with a total of 17.16 points (out of a possible 20) including a 9.33 point ride (out of a possible 10) for the best single wave score of the week.
“I am super stoked to win in this event,” Huscenot said. “The waves got back throughout the day and I am really happy to have made the best out of it. I was confident and tried a few tricks because I was feeling pretty good and the board I have been surfing for a couple of weeks now is just amazing.”
Huscenot, who defeated local favorite Jatyr Berasaluce (Sopelana, EUK) and outsiders Lewis St John (BRB) and Frederico Morais (PRT) in the final, had confidently advanced through all his previous battles in first place and remained unstoppable in the 30-minute decider, leaving runner-up Berasaluce with a second consecutive equal finish at his home event, his second in a row after San Sebastian.
“The conditions were good and I wanted to enjoy my time as I had done for the whole event,” Huscenot said. “I did not really land any of the few tricks I tried but the most important for me is to win this event after such a long time away from events in Europe. I couldn’t hope for anything else for my return to Europe.”
Berasaluce, whose excellent result in the ASP Grade-1 event confirmed he was definitely able to bring consistency and smart heat tactics to reach a second final in two events, came short of an excellent ride to remain in the title chase during the final and had to accept Huscenot’s domination.
“To climb up the ratings and get first after this event is pretty amazing,” Berasaluce said. “I wanted to win because it’s the second runner-up finish in two events for me but that No. 1 ranking definitely means a huge confidence boost for the upcoming events.”
Berasaluce’s consistency has rocketed the Basque surfer from No. 6 to No. 1 in two weeks-time on the ASP European Junior ratings, a premiere for a Basque surfer in a couple of years since the French and French Islands’ surfers had been dominating the tour. Now leading the European Under-21 division in professional surfing, Berasaluce will confidently move to the upcoming ASP Grade-2 event in France, his new status still adding a bit of pressure to his title chase.
While Lewis St John (BRB) achieved his best result ever in an ASP sanctioned event by making the final to enter the regional Top 15 surfers, Portuguese representative Frederico Morais placed third in the event, a second final in three events confirming his status of Portugal’s best upcoming competitor.
In the girls’ division, defending champion Alizee Arnaud (Hossegor, FRA), 18, was not able to clinch a second consecutive win reaching the final though for a second place finish behind fellow favorite Justine Dupont (Lacanau, FRA), 18. Dupont, who won her maiden ASP Pro Junior event today at Sopelana, used her renowned stylish competitive surfing to best Arnaud, Portuguese surfer Fransisca Santos (PRT) and local top female surfer Garazi Sanchez (EUK) en route to winning the 2009 edition.
“To win this event is really perfect after my bad run at San Sebastian,” Dupont said. “I was pretty pumped to do well here so to claim the event is just what I wanted most. I felt confident throughout the whole event and especially during the Semifinals. From there, I just put everything into it and won the thing.”
Dupont, whose impressive young career has already taken her to an ASP Women’s World Longboard No. 2 rank and an ASP European Women’s title in 2008, confirmed she was one of the most talented surfers of her generation today and will march on her home event at Lacanau with solid confidence. Not being able to get any big result yet this year, Dupont’s win rockets her to a promising No. … rank on the ASP European Women’s Junior ratings where Arnaud remains the leader before the final event in Lacanau.
The ASP European Junior caravan will enjoy a deserved break from today until August 13, when the regional title race resumes at Lacanau for the women’s final stop and the men’s fifth event out of seven.
ASP European Junior Ratings’ Top 5 after Event No. 4 Sopelana Pro Junior
1st, Jatyr Berasaluce (EUK), 2820 pts
2nd, Joachim Guichard (DEN), 2695 pts
3rd, Damien Chaudoy (REU), 2515 pts
4th, Marc Lacomare (FRA), 2230 pts
5th, Pierre-Valentin Laborde (FRA), 2030 pts
ASP European Women’s Junior Ratings’ Top 5 after Event No. 3 Sopelana Pro Junior
1st, Alizee Arnaud (FRA), 2590 pts
2nd, Johanne Defay (REU), 2170 pts
3rd, Garazi Sanchez (EUK), 1900 pts
4th, Maud Lecar (FRA), 1665 pts
5th, Camille Davila (FRA), 1560 pts