[Photo credit: Aquashot/aspeurope.com by Bonnarme] Gonzalo "Gony" Zubizarreta (Vigo, ESP), 24, was one of the in-form men of the day, the recent event winner from Zarautz advancing through two rounds to secure a berth into Round 4 where he will meet other solid competitor Shaun Gossmann (Gold Coast, AUS) when the Movistar Pantin Classic resumes tomorrow
PANTIN, Spain (Wednesday, September 9, 2009) - An action-packed day of competition took the ASP WQS 5-Star Movistar Pantin Classic into serious business today as no less than thirty-two heats were held in consistent three to four foot (1 to 1.2 meter) waves, thirty-two men only making the cut through Rounds 3 and 4. A majority of event top seeds escaped from a shocker loss and the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) ratings' top competitors could start grabbing valuable points and secure themselves a ticket for Day 3 of competition where things will heat-up fast.
As light on-shore winds and grey skies settled over Pantin's renowned beach, heat tactics and wave choice were crucial again throughout the day giving a clear advantage to those sitting on the consistent right-handers offering more scoring potential. Advancing through two heats today thanks to a series of solid and committed turns to reach the excellent result range in Round 2 was Australian competitor Shaun Gossmann (Gold Coast, AUS), 26, who was at ease despite the changing surf conditions today.
"I really enjoy Pantin, I've had good results here over the years and I enjoy the little corner to the right of the beach which reminds me of the Wall at Duranbah," Gossmann said. "I felt in rhythm today despite the few slow moments but I got a bit of momentum and just carried through with it."
Gossmann, who started the year well, is currently sitting in No. 31 on the ASP WQS ratings and remains in the race for the 2010 ASP Dream Tour qualification. After posting an excellent 16.43 point heat result including a 9.00 point ride in Round 2, Gossmann was able to win his second encounter ahead of former event winner Pablo Gutierrez (Santander, ESP), 28. A big result at Pantin would make a significant change for the South-African native looking to better an 875 point result to increase his overall total.
"I started off good in France [in the ASP WQS 6-Star at Lacanau] but I've had absolute shockers in the last two events so it's good to go back to the basics and refresh," Gossmann said. "I am feeling pretty good and fresh and as long as I've got a shot [at qualifying] I'll be happy."
Much expected for his start in the Movistar Pantin Classic, his home event, recent event winner Gonzalo Zubizarreta a.k.a Gony, 24, pleased the crowds for his first day of competition at Pantin, the current ASP WQS No. 19 getting through his two matches in first place to keep his confidence up and going. Zubizarreta, who jumped from No. 29 to 19 after clinching the valuable 2000 winner's ratings' points at Zarautz last Saturday, will try and consolidate his overall points' total this week knowing another big finish would put him inside the coveted Top 15, the virtual qualifying group for the ASP World Tour.
"It's been pretty intense the last few days since the won at Zarautz," Zubizarreta said. "I felt a bit tired for these two heats today but I am pretty stoked to be here and surf at home. I haven't had any time to relax yet and I am trying to focus back on this whole different event now."
Zubizarreta, who is through to Round 4 where he will surf against Gossmann and rising Australian surfer Jayke Sharp (AUS), has had several good results in the event here including a Quarterfinal finish two years ago and will be a favorite when he paddles out tomorrow.
"That win gave me a bit more confidence for sure and I am trying to do the same as I did in Zarautz," Zubizarreta said. "I feel like I am in rhythm and the support from my coach Sylvain (Frey) is huge. I live an hour and a half drive from here but I surf quite a lot at this beach and I feel at home. Hope things keep going as good tomorrow."
Despite the successful day for big names, a few athletes suffered early upsets today getting home to pack and change their return flight after a month on the road across Europe. Leaving the European leg of the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) today were Blake Thornton (New South Wales, AUS) and Austin Ware (California, USA), respectively ranked No. 10 and 11 on the current international ratings. Following along through the exit was former ASP Top 45 member Raoni Monteiro (BRA) and other Brazilian wunderkind Wiggoly Dantas (BRA).
Other Gold Coaster Luke Munro (Gold Coast, AUS), 26, former ASP Top 45 surfer and current No. 15, managed to get through to Round 4 today keeping his re-qualification campaign alive. Munro, who got back on the Grind in 2009 after a couple of years amongst the world's best surfers, has had a solid year thus far and is looking to better a low 625 point-result this week to keep climbing-up the hierarchy.
"I made the decision to stick to the right-hand corner of the beach," Munro said. "I had counted a dozen of good waves in the heat before mine and I want to avoid the hussle as much as possible so I sat there alone and I am glad things went well. I was pretty relaxed as I knew the waves would come even if it did take a while. I am feeling better, trusting my judgment again and I am enjoying myself competing."
Being the one surfer with the lowest result currently sitting inside the Top 15, Munro will be the one netting more points than any other this week, a win at Pantin would rocket him inside the Top 10 before his trip back home.
With swell forecasts showing difficult conditions from Friday, officials will re-assess tomorrow at 8.30 AM and get things back in motion for what could be another long day of action.
All results, photos and press releases of the ASP WQS 5-Star Movistar Pantin Classic are available at www.aspeurope.com
Heat 1: Warwick Wright (ZAF) 13.67 pts, Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 11.77 pts, Diego Rosa (BRA) 8.93 pts, Romain Laulhe (FRA) 7.16 pts
Heat 2: Rodrigo Dornell
Source: ASP Europe