PLAYA DE PANTIN, Galicia – Spain (Thursday, September 13, 2012) - Competition recommenced this morning with the men in good 4-5Ft surf at Playa de Pantin before moving into the women’s 6-Star event later this afternoon. Strong performances were witnessed in both divisions with the top seeds entering the event at this stage, but it was the girls who put on an impressive show this afternoon with some solid maneuvers in pumping surf.
Sage Erickson (USA) 21, was on fire in her opening heat of the Cabreiroa Pantin Classic Pro, surfing a near-perfect wave rewarded a 9.33 out of 10 and netting the highest heat total of the first round in the process. With two solid scores under her belt, Erickson left her three opponents in a combination zone, needing two scores to try and claim the heat.
“My first heat went really well today, and I’ve just been really excited to get out and get a jersey on,” Erickson stated. “The conditions were a little bit smaller earlier on while practicing and it’s picked up a bit, and it’s the first time we’ve had some real swell on the Star tour this year besides Margaret River, so it feels good to be in some power!”
On a roll from her last three events in Peru and California where she placed fifth twice and won the last one, Erickson used her lethal backhand attack on the bigger sets at Playa de Pantin, and looked at ease in a bumpy lineup. After a succession of events run in small conditions, the Ventura local was happy to get some bigger walls to exploit in Pantin.
“Coming from California I’m quite used to these windy kind of smaller beachbreak conditions,” reflected Erickson. “But at home in Ventura we have some really good pointbreaks, and further north there are some more powerful waves. I think when I was younger I kind of forced myself to go out when it was a bit bigger, and I was scared just for little moments like this when there’s a bit more size out in the water, so I feel confident here and it’s my third year so I’m really excited to try and get on the podium here in Europe. My first heat was kind of a blurr in my head, just because I was pretty focused and a bit anxious to get that first heat out of the way, but I think my 9.33 I had an okay first turn and a strong second turn on the close-out. I can’t remember it that well but I think the judges seemed to like it with that score so I’m excited!”
Sitting in 13th position at the end of the 2012 Women’s WCT season, Erickson had to go back to the qualifying events to try to maintain her spot in the elite ASP Top 17. With four solid results under the belt, the talented natural-footer needs to better a Round of 24 loss to improve her situation and with the confidence she displayed today in Pantin, she will be a favourite when competition resumes tomorrow.
“I definitely didn’t finish where I would have liked to on my first year on the WCT,” Erickson said. “You know I think I’ve been learning so much in trying to find the balance with equipment and just the physical attributes it takes to be a World Tour surfer. The Star tour is kind of a building block and somewhere where I’m looking to requalify for the CT. Right now it’s looking really good so I’m really happy closing up my events here in Europe!”
Georgia Fish (AUS) 19, displayed a great deal of confidence and power in the windy, shifting 4Ft peaks of Playa de Pantin and surfed a solid heat to claim one of today’s highest combined heat totals of 15.10. Opening the show in the women’s division in heat 1, she advanced ahead of current Women’s World Championship Tour surfer Jacqueline Silva (BRA).
“I’ve been quite sick so I haven’t had the highest expectations for this contest,” Fish stated. “I’m trying to have a more relaxed approach so I’m really happy to have had such a good heat! I’ve been here for a few days, and we’ve surfed Valdovino and had a drive around to see Cedeira and everything and I really like it here. It’s beautiful, and a lot like where I grew up in Victoria. My goal coming here is to try and get consistent in heats, and I’ll be pretty happy with that!”
Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 18, who has had a stellar year so far on the Star Tour as well as the Pro Junior series of both Europe and her home country of South-Africa, demonstrated again she’s one of the strongest up-and-comers in 2012, scoring the second highest single-wave score of the day, an impressive 8.67 out of 10.
“I was super nervous,” started Buitendag. “I don’t know why, maybe I was just thinking about it too much, but I do it all the time, the first heat is always either way, so it’s good to have it under the belt! I started the heat pretty bad but finally managed to get one that went all the way to the inside, did a couple turns on it and got a good score.”
Buitendag, sitting at fifth on the ASP Women’s World Tour rankings, has virtually qualified for next year’s Top 17, and will be looking to replace two low results to solidify her position. In dominant form all year, the talented goofy-footer from the South-Coast has just qualified for the World Junior Championships and will be a favourite in Bali next month when the event starts.
“We had one pro junior event in South-Africa about a week ago where I got first, and my friend Sarah and I qualified to go to Bali which is after the last event here, so it’s going to be a busy schedule next month. I’m focusing on the Star Tour more, and World Juniors is to top it off, to go to Bali I mean, who doesn’t want to go to Bali!”
Bino Lopes (BRA) 24, led the men’s division and found the highest score of the day in a complicated line-up, an excellent 8.33 out of 10 earned with a combination of powerful top turns just under the lip of a beautiful running lefthander. Lopes, who has had a difficult start to his European campaign hopes to better or equal his best result in 2012 in Pantin.
“It was a good heat for me,” Lopes stated. “I had some good waves, and specially that left I had my 8.33 on. I’m super happy and I hope tomorrow I can make some more heats. That left was amazing, I made a good first turn, then a snap right under the lip and another couple of big turns so it was a really fun wave.”
After a good 2011 season that saw the young Brazilian win a 2-Star event at home and place 5th in the 6-Star of Rio de Janeiro, Lopes has been collecting first round defeats and will be out to regain momentum from his strong start in Pantin.
“I feel like I haven’t had the best luck in the previous events, like in the Azores where my opponent got a wave in the last 10 seconds and got the score he needed to pass ahead of me. But that’s competition, and I’m staying focused and positive here and I hope I’ll make more heats! This year I’ve missed a few events due to a leg injury and I hope I can get a couple results by the end of this season.”
Local hero Gony Zubizarreta (ESP) 27, qualified for the third round of competition placing second to Messias Felix (BRA), and advancing ahead of another young talent Dimitri Ouvre from the French Island of Guadeloupe. With an extensive knowledge of the area and a strong experience with competition, Zubizarreta managed to make his way through a tough first heat today.
“It was pretty hard at the beginning there,” Zubizarreta said. “I couldn’t find a decent wave and Messias was ripping. I was thinking if I found the wave I could get a score in these conditions, and I caught that good left and got that 7.10 with a small backup. At the end Dimitri was needing a 6 and I knew he’s a really good surfer and could get the score easily so I tried to keep him off of the good ones.”
The next call has been set to 10am tomorrow morning for both men and women competitors. Depending on conditions on offer at Playa de Pantin, event officials will decide the day’s program.
The 2012 Cabreiroa Pantin Classic Pro is scheduled from September 12-16, 2012 in Playa de Pantin, Galicia. For all results, photos, video highlights, press releases and LIVE webcast, log on to pantin.aspeurope.com.
The Cabreiroa Pantin Classic Pro is made possible with the support of the following event partners: Estrella Galicia, Cabreiroa, MINI, Ferrol, Diputacion de A Coruna, Concello de Ferrol, Concello de Valdovino, Xunta de Galicia, Deporte Galego, Ferrol Turismo, Concello de Cedeira, Concello de Neda, Kentes, Gadis, Pago, McDonald’s, PSVITA, Intermax, Nilox, Federacion Galega de Surf e bodyboard, Oceans Surf Club, Wahrld, Vazva.
REMAINING CABREIROA PANTIN CLASSIC PRO WOMEN’S ROUND OF 48 MATCHUPS:
Heat 9: Rebecca Woods (AUS), Anne-Cecile Le Tallec (FRA), Nao Omura (JPN), Grace Styman-Lane (AUS) Heat 10: Philippa Anderson (AUS), Felicity Palmateer (AUS), Ainara Aymat (EUK), Alisha Gonsalves (USA) Heat 11: Sarah Baum (ZAF), Suelen Naraisa (BRA), Lori Kelly (AUS), Estitxu Estremo (ESP) Heat 12: Justine Dupont (FRA), Brittani Nicholl (AUS), Jordan Hundley (USA), Laura Rishworth (NZL)