RANDE PLAGE, Lacanau – France (Sunday, August 12, 2012) - Windy 1-2Ft waves were breaking all-day today at La Grande Plage of Lacanau for the third day of the ASP 1-Star Men and Women’s Airwalk Lacanau Pro Junior. Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR) 18, qualified for the quarter-finals today and was crowned the 2012 European Junior Champion when Vasco Ribeiro (PRT) missed his spot in the quarters finishing third of his heat in the Round of 32.
Boukhiam, who has won two events already this season in Royan and Galicia last week, has showed consistence throughout the year and once again today when he won his heat ahead of Brazilian rising star Jesse Mendes. The young Moroccan found the best waves in a complicated lineup and managed to display his usual ease on a dying swell.
“It was another tough day today,” stated Boukhiam. “I managed to find two little fun rights though and got rewarded so it’s cool I got first ! I was told just moments before my heat that I had won the Title so I paddled out there super relaxed with absolutely no pressure. Vasco is my friend and we had a good fight all year, it’s a little disappointing to see him lose at that stage but I’m happy for myself !”
After an excellent season in 2010 that saw him qualify for the World Junior Championships, Boukhiam had a shocking last season and came back this year hungry for victory on the European series. With a stronger entourage and preparation, the talented goofy-footer seems to have stepped up his game in 2012 and will be a serious contender for the event win in Lacanau when competition resumes tomorrow.
“I think my work with Yannick and Patrick Beven, Micky Picon, and Dimitri Ouvre has helped a lot in my mental preparation” Boukhiam said. “I’ve worked on physio too but I think having this super close crew around me is what makes the big difference. They’ve been there and know exactly what I need and it’s good to learn from their experience.”
Frederico Morais (PRT) 20, was the other top performer in the Men’s division today, also making his way into the Quarters and joining the last 16 remaining surfers in the hunt for the prestigious Lacanau Pro Junior Title.
“I had some good scores, I felt good !” Morais said. “I watched the heat before mine, Vasco’s heat and it looked really tricky so I was a bit scared to go out, but I guess there were more waves and a bit more frequency, so I ended up having fun !”
Sitting fourth on the regional rankings before this last event in Lacanau, the young Portuguese eyes qualification for the Elite World Junior Championships and is in need of a strong result in this event to keep his spot ahead of Reunion Island’s Kieran Bulard.
“Right now, I just want to get guys out of the way and secure my place on the rankings to qualify for the Worlds. I think the only dangerous guy on the draw now is Kieran (Bulard) so we’ll see how the comp goes tomorrow and I’m just going to concentrate on doing my best and hoping for the best ! I’m in good form, I have confidence and good boards plus Richard Marsh has helped me a lot so I’m stoked and happy to be here competing.”
The Women’s event also started today and ran all the way to decide the semi-finalists and once again it was the top seeds that lead the way for other surfers to follow. Cannelle Bulard (REU) 18, recently crowned European Women’s Junior Champion, showed no shortage of motivation in Lacanau despite being assured of her first place at the end of the year.
“My first heat was fun and I easily found some good waves” stated Bulard. “That last one was a little harder and to be honest I didn’t really watched the line-up before the start, but I managed to find a good one right from the beginning.”
Bulard has a complicated history with the spot, where she hasn’t performed well in the past, and 2011 is a bad memory she wishes to erase. Last year, Bulard suffered an early loss in the event that ended up costing her the second place on the European rankings and the coveted ticket for the World Juniors. Maud Le Car was the beneficiary of that situation a year ago, and the battle promises to be fun to watch tomorrow between the two friends when competition resumes for the final heats.
“Right now I’m not feeling either pressure nor my ‘Lacanau curse’ so we’ll see how it goes. I’m sure tomorrow will be a little more tense with the finals etc but I really want that title in Lacanau it’s become really special to me and I’ll do everything I can tomorrow to win it !”
Leticia Canales Bilbao (EUK) 17, launched an assault towards a second final in two consecutive events, winning both her confrontations today and securing her spot amongst the last eight remaining surfers in the Women’s event.
“The waves were really tiny but in the first five minutes I took two good ones and that was it !” Canales said. “I trained very hard this past winter and the results are starting to show that my work is paying so I’m very happy.”
Sitting now fourth European on the regional rankings before this last event in Lacanau, the Basque rider has recently integrated a new sponsor’s team and evidently benefits from professional coaching and training sessions.
“I surf mostly around Sopelana and Bakio in winter, we get some strong and big waves and I like it ! We have Mathias Maalem coaching us and he’s got a lot of experience so he’s able to drive us in the right direction like for wave selection, placement etc..”
The next Call is set to 9am tomorrow Monday, August 13 for the final day of the Airwalk Lacanau Pro waiting period. With an expected cleaner swell and stronger period, everything is set for an entertaining finals day tomorrow at La Grande Plage of Lacanau.
The 2012 Airwalk Lacanau Pro Junior is scheduled from August 10-13 in Lacanau. For all results, photos, video highlights, press releases log on to
The Airwalk Lacanau Pro Junior is made possible with the support of the following event partners: Airwalk, Ville de Lacanau, Lacanau Surf Club, Region Aquitaine, Conseil Général de Gironde, Fédération Française de Surf, Super U, Sport +, Medococean, Smurfit Kappa, RTL2, 20Minutes, MCM, GoPro, Unbottle Yourself amongst others.
UPCOMING AIRWALK LACANAU PRO JUNIOR WOMEN’S SEMI-FINALS MATCHUPS:
Heat 1: Cannelle Bulard (REU), Tessa Thyssen (GLP), Leticia Canales Bilbao (EUK), Camille Davila (FRA) Heat 2: Ainara Aymat (EUK), Maud Le Car (FRA), Lucia Martino (ESP), Keshia Seelow Eyre (PRT)
UPCOMING AIRWALK LACANAU PRO JUNIOR MEN’S QUARTER-FINALS RESULTS:
Heat 1: Beyrick De Vries (ZAF), Diego Mignot (FRA), Tom Cloarec (FRA), Joao Kopke (PRT) Heat 2: Carlos Munoz (CRI), Luis Eyre (GBR), Timothee Bisso (GLP), Nelson Cloarec (FRA) Heat 3: Frederico Morais (PRT), Kieran Bulard (REU), Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA), Jesse Mendes (BRA) Heat 4: Vicente Romero (ESP), Ugo Robin (FRA), Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR), Alex Gironi (EUK)