HALEIWA, Oahu – Alain Riou (Tahiti, PYF), 25, reached the final of the prestigious Reef Hawaiian Pro this week at Haleiwa on the North Shore of Oahu, the Tahitian resident placing fourth in the coveted final.
Riou, who made his way through the excellent surf conditions breaking in the eight-to-nine foot range (2.5 to 3 meter), has jumped to No. 26 on the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) ratings and remains in the race to qualify for next year’s elite ASP Top 45.
Having surfed through six rounds to reach the final of the ASP WQS 6-Star Prime event, first of three competitions of the prestigious Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, Riou showed he was back to his best level for his first Hawaiian event of the year.
Besting several big names on his way to the final, including former ASP World Champion Sunny Garcia (HAW) in the Quarterfinals, current ASP World Tour member Aritz Aranburu (EUK) in Round 5 and ASP WQS No. 2 Patrick Gudauskas (USA) in Round 4, Riou was at ease in the solid and clean surf until the final where has left away from the crown.
Riou, a former ASP European Junior Champion and longtime ASP WQS competitor, lived through a couple of tough years on the Grind sitting outside the Top 50 and not finding his rhythm amongst the world’s best qualifiers.
His fourth place finish at Haleiwa puts him back in the leading European contingent and will sure be a serious confidence boost for this year’s final event on the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS), the O’Neill World Cup of Surfing at Sunset Beach.
Ranked No. 26 before the Sunset event, Riou will be looking to better a 1100 point result to try and improve his overall ratings’ point total of 11082 points, meaning the French Polynesian competitor needs to make the Semifinals at least to qualify for next year’s ASP World Tour.
Best European representative at Haleiwa, Riou’s result makes him the third European surfer ever to make the final in an event of the Vans Triple Crown after last year’s winner and fellow Tahitian Michel Bourez (PYF) and Michael Picon (FRA).
Alain Riou will now compete in the O’Neill World Cup of Surfing, second jewel of the 2009 Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, at Sunset Beach along with top European surfer and current ASP WQS No. 17 Joan Duru (FRA) who remains Europe’s best chances towards next year’s ASP Dream Tour.