Action Starts at ASP 6-Star Swatch Girls Pro

LES BOURDAINES, Seignosse/France - The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) Swatch Girls Pro 6-Star Women's event started today with the girls battling the tough weather conditions that battered the contest site non-stop from first light this morning. Competition ran through two complete rounds until the incoming tide suddenly forced a halt to proceedings early in Round 4 of this $US35.000 event.

Many of the world's best female surfers including 3-time and current ASP Women's World Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) arrived early this morning with strong onshore winds, rain and small 2ft (0.5m) windblown waves. With the outlook for the entire week not looking too promising event officials were forced to run in not the kind of conditions they would have liked.

Despite the testing conditions all the surfers understood the situation and attacked their 25-minute heats with total commitment at trying to find and make the most of the better waves coming through the main sand bank at Les Bourdaines.

Highlights were many including Alizee Arnaud smashing out an 8.5 out of a possible 10 to obtain the highest single score and highest two wave heat total of 13.90 for day one of the Swatch Girls Pro. Along with Arnaud, Cannelle Bulard (REU) was the first to advance to round 4 in a low scoring heat. The 16-year-old competing on the Women's Star Series for the first time turned heads as she calmly showed a strong forehand attack to rack up the points.

"It's hard out there and very difficult to surf but I got a couple so I hope I can do the same as this tomorrow. The girls on the WQS are the same as many girls who are on the world tour so it is a very strong competition and in the first round it is OK but it gets harder with every round you pass. This is my first year on the WQS and I want to do all the events and next year as well."

Lee Ann Curren (FRA) was unable to start her campaign at this maiden Star Series event due to her heat not starting due to poor conditions despite the girls being ready in the line-up to start. Competing on home soil Curren is remaining calm and has her plan to not place any added pressure on herself.

"When you are going to start a heat and it's your first time in the water you are always keen to start and it got a bit better from this morning but then suddenly it stopped breaking and went flat so I think it was a good decision by the contest director to see that and just call it off and maybe we will get better conditions over the next few days."

"It is another event and I am not putting any pressure on myself because everyone is surfing really well and I am just going to try my best and make some heats. I really want to do good here so what I am feeling is good pressure for me."

Tyler Wright (AUS) also had to leave the water however unlike Curren she had already passed 2 rounds and ready for another. After being on hold for an hour Wright was happy to wait for improved conditions tomorrow especially as the cold was ning to take effect.

"They were really tough conditions and it was small, windy and brutally cold but there are a couple of waves coming through but this is what it's about. Everyone is a threat to win here and it would be difficult to name any one person and everyone is ripping here and all the big names are here like Stephanie (Gilmore), Sally (Fitzgibbons), Coco (Ho) so it is one of the hardest events going."

Fresh from her recent third place last week in Portugal Wright comes here with her positive attitude and memories of what Les Bourdaines can offer when conditions are right.

"I came here two years ago and there are amazing waves here with lefts just peeling down the bank and with aright as well so one of the most fun waves I've surfed when it is good. I've had two thirds and it's the first time I have actually done WQS events so I am happy with my start and I am enjoying the whole experience of it."

The Swatch Girls Pro Junior an ASP Grade-2 event will run in conjunction with the Swatch Girls Pro bringing together a fantastic blend of both European and overseas talent for this second event on the ASP European Women's Pro Junior Series.

Heat 1:
Cannelle Bulard (REU) 8.30, Rosanne Hodge (ZAF) 8.20, Claudia Goncalves (BRA) 7.75, Erica Hosseini (USA) 7.25

Heat 1:
Cannelle Bulard (REU) 12.40, Tyler Wright (AUS) 11.85, Natalie Anzivino (USA) 7.35, Ana Sarmento (PRT) 7,15
Heat 2: Brittani Nicholl (AUS) 11.50, Nage Melamed (HAW) 11.35, Garazi Sanchez (EUK) 6.80, Joanne Dennison (GBR) 5.45
Heat 3: Alizee Arnaud (FRA) 13.90, Felicity Palmateer (AUS) 10.60, Nicole Morgan (IRL) 5.50 Danielle Ohayon (BRA) 2.20
Heat 4: Anastasia Ashley (USA) 9.35, Chantelle Rautenbach (ZAF) 8.35, Amy Nicholl (USA) 8.05, Nao Omura (JPN) 6.00
Heat 5: Leila Hurst (HAW) 14.00, Jessica Santorik (NZL) 10.70, Laurina McGrath (AUS) 7.30, Freya Prumm (AUS) 3.55
Heat 6: Sarah Baum (ZAF) 11.25, Estitxu Estremo (ESP) 9.00, Carina Da Silva (PRT) 5.30, Valeria Sole (PER) 4.60