Barbara Segatto [Photocredit:Aquashot/aspeurope.com]
LES BOURDAINES Seignosse, France (Wednesday, June 1, 2011) - The opening day of the ASP6-Star Swatch Girls Pro France saw Round One of competition completed with many tight, low scoring heats in very testing conditions which pushed to the limit the strong international field of athletes in solid 4-5ft (1.5m) waves at the main event site at Les Bourdaines. Strong sweeping currents added to the scenario making it a battle of the fittest during the early morning session.
Event officials placed the Swatch Girls Pro France on hold through the low tide mark in an attempt to restart competition however a strong afternoon sea breeze added to the complexities of continuing and a decision was taken to call a halt to proceedings and wait for more favourable conditions expected for tomorrow and the remainder of the official waiting period. The Swatch Girls Pro Junior France was also postponed for the day.
Surfers competing at the Swatch Girls Pro France are out to gain the valuable points on offer in an attempt to either maintain themselves on the elite ASPWoman's World Tour or possibly qualify for the 2012 ASPWoman's World Tour. Meanwhile Europe's finest under-21 athletes will face some of the world's best up-and-comers in the Swatch Girls Pro Junior France in their attempt to qualify for the ASPWorld Junior Series which starts October 3, in Bali, Indonesia.
Maud Le Car (St Martin, FRA) 19, who made a late entry to the Swatch Girls Pro France, tamed the wild conditions with a strong display of stylish surfing to take a last minute lead after getting off to a very slow start and sitting in third place for the majority of the 25 minute encounter.
"I am happy to pass this heat because it was really hard and there is a strong current which brings you out of the area where the waves are breaking. So it was very physical to get a couple of waves."
Le Car did not throw in the towel and showed tremendous determination to fight the elements in search of a decent scoring ride in an attempt to make the second round of competition. Scratching onto a peeling right, Le Car pulled a series of turns including one solid backhand snap to eventually obtain a two-wave combined total of 9.50 out of 20, the highest of the event so far.
"In the last seconds I got a couple of waves so I am very happy. I got one good right which I paddled hard to get and it had a little section to make a manoeuvre backside. In the last seconds I jumped to first place so I am very happy."
Estitxu Estremo (EUK) 34, current ASPEurope Women's Longboard champion, placed second behind Le Car after having led for the majority of the heat with the highest single-wave scores of the day, a 6.50 out of 10. The veteran campaigner relied on all her past years of competitive experience in the trying conditions hooking into one of the better waves on offer to lay down a full-rail forehand snap followed by a closeout turn to claim the score.
"I was so lucky out there. At the start I couldn't get out the back but eventually I made it out there and I got a really good right. I was able to make the drop and do one good turn and then a half turn that I got a bit stuck on. So that was the luck I had because after that I just kept getting hit by the sets. I got out and went back to the peak and eventually had to opt for a small wave to get a backup score and make the heat."
Keshia Seelow Eyre (Ericeira, PRT) 15, one of the youngest competitors in the main event, finished first in her heat ahead of Kaleigh Gilchrist (USA) to advance through to Round Two with a solid ride which included a series of forehand cutbacks through to the inside section.
"The current made it really difficult to catch the waves in the right spot. I got a mushy right hander and I managed to do a couple of cut-backs and then the white water came through and I hit it."
"This is the first time I have ever surfed here really," continued Seelow Eyre. "The only other time I have surfed out of Portugal was at the Pro Junior event in Vendee which was great and here is really good fun too."
Lore Eizaguirre (Zarautz, EUK) 23, was first up this morning in heat nº1 and she made the most of her opportunity by methodically building on her situation and improving her positioning to secure a comfortable win.
"It is really hard at the moment with quite difficult conditions and a strong current running down the beach. You have to choose well your waves which I realized at the start of the heat when I caught my first wave. Here it doesn't allow you to make any errors because you lose a lot of time and you have to paddle a lot. Yesterday I tested the waves but this morning I saw there was more current and that it was more difficult so this morning I didn't have a free surf but I am very pleased with what I planned to do in the heat and in the end with what I did."
Eizaguirre, who lives only an hour drive across the Spanish border, frequently visits the Seignosse area in preparation for her competitive season and for the Swatch Girls Pro France in particular. With gained local knowledge through time spent in the area her performance today was a reflection of that preparation.
"Before this event I have tried to come here and treat it as though I am at home and I have noticed the difference in my performance after having come here to try out the waves.
The Swatch Girls Pro is webcast LIVE on www.swatchgirlspro.com
Source: ASP Europe