Rebecca Woods (AUS) destroyed the perfect lefts on offer in Le Penon today.
CAPBRETON, France (Wednesday, August 21, 2013) - Competitors were greeted with a clean 3-5Ft swell this morning on the opening day of the Swatch Girls Pro France, allowing competition to get underway and complete the first five rounds of the main event as well as the opening two heats of the Pro Junior. Surfers enjoyed a perfect summer day in Seignosse Le Penon and scored the classic french beachbreaks to launch the five-day surf and music festival.
Junior European up-and-comer Kim Veteau (GLP) 15, was a clear standout today, netting an excellent heat total of 17.00 out of 20 to advance through two rounds of competition ahead of seasoned competitors of the Qualifying Series. The young surfer from Guadeloupe did not let any pressure get to her and displayed her usual power and confidence in her maneuvers.
“We can’t really hope for better conditions today,” Veteau admitted. “There are rights and lefts, fun long waves with plenty of turns possibilities we’re just super lucky today with the waves. I’m stoked because my first heat was a bit more difficult but in this second one I had so much fun! I don’t feel any pressure, I haven’t surfed all the other events so I’m basically here to give it a try and see how it goes.”
At only 15 years old, Veteau is already in a good 9th position on the European Junior rankings and slowly building experience both on a regional and international scale. Not afraid of a little challenge, Veteau confronted some of the best surfers in the world and pushed her surfing to match her opponents.
“The level is a lot higher for sure here with all the girls coming from Australia, the US, Hawaii, Japan and everywhere so you have the best girls from each continent but it’s just boosting me to push my level and try to beat them.”
ASP Top 17 member Rebecca Woods (AUS) 28, had to surf through four rounds today and was happy to see competition switch to the Juniors to allow her a little rest. The experienced Australian navigated through the early rounds and will join the event’s top seeds when competition recommences tomorrow.
“I’ve been in my wetsuit all-day, just grometting it up, my eyes are red but it was fun, it was good,” Woods said. “Today I got lucky I think, I got second and nearly got knocked out cause they’re all surfing amazingly well and you’ve got to be on your game all the time. It’s good you know the talent pool is large and growing.”
In her ninth year amongst the elite Women’s World Championship Tour surfers, Woods has seen the evolution of the sport and was impressed today by the level young surfers have reached in the past few years.
“We used to only have the Round of 16 in the events but now even in the Round of 72 and up there are some tough heats. There are a lot of new girls coming through and some people with experience too. They’ve been competing since they were young, and it’s just going to keep growing so it’s cool!”
Demi Boelsterli (USA) 22, netted the second best heat total of the event so far, taking full advantage of the excellent conditions on offer in Le Penon. The Californian found similarities with the long peeling righthanders she’s developed her surfing skills on.
“It was so fun, I just wanted to keep surfing,” Boelsterli said. “I’ve been here for a couple days and this is the most fun I’ve had in a session. It’s really rippable and it just keeps coming at you. I’m used to long rights so it was good to be able to link turns together out there, but it changes so fast it’s hard to compare it to anywhere else really. I came here for a contest in 2007 I think, and even though the wave is completely different, it’s a similar feeling and energy in the water so it gave me some confidence.”
Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 18, drew first blood when the Pro Junior started this afternoon, scoring a near perfect 9.65 out of a possible 10 on a beautiful righthander the sandbank of Le Penon is known to produce. The talented regular-footer from Phillip Island in Australia, currently in the qualification zone for the Elite Top 17 next season, had the opportunity to check her equipment and form in a Junior heat before entering the serious show when the 6-Star enters the top seeds round.
“It’s firing out there, I was so amped to get out,” Van Dijk commented. “I’ve been pretty confused with all my boards the last few days just because the conditions are always changing but I definitely had an amazing time out there, it’s a perfect day! This set came and having surfed this bank all week I knew some of those rights foam up and kind of reform and are perfect so I banked it and surfed all the way in and I loved it, so did the judges apparently!”
Organizers and surfers will reconvene tomorrow at 7:30am to reassess the conditions and decide of the day’s schedule. Forecasts call for a slightly decreasing swell and light onshore winds in the morning.
The SWATCH GIRLS PRO FRANCE and Pro Junior are made possible with the support of the following event partners: SWATCH, Landes Côte Sud, Conseil Général des Landes, Région Aquitaine, Unbottle Yourself, EQ, Honda, Makila Auto, MagicSeaWeed, Lamono, NRJ, Surf Session, Adrénaline – L’Équipe.fr, Beach Brother amongst others.