Enrique Ariitu tucking into a Tahitian tube at the Rangi Pro Junior. Pic ASP/Will H-S
COOLANGATTA, QLD/Australia (Wednesday, August 7, 2013) – Enrique Ariitu (Tahiti) showed up at the last event on the 2013 ASP Australasia Pro Junior Series with one goal – post a result that would see him finish in the top 4 on the rankings and qualify for the ASP World Junior Championships. Ariitu struggled in the tough conditions and was eliminated in his opening heat at the Be The Influence Surf Pro. He was dejected, thinking he’d flown all the way to Australia and fallen short of his goal, but all of Enrique’s competition for 4th place also lost out early and the young Tahitian secured a coveted spot to compete for an ASP World Junior Title.
Tell us how it feels to qualify for the ASP World Junior Championships?
I got knocked out in the first round of the Be The Influence Surf Pro at Coffs Harbour a few weeks ago. I was so bummed because I thought I wasn’t going to make the top four. Then, some of the other guys lost early too, and I was so happy when I found out I’d made it. I am so happy I get to represent my country! It’s my last year in the juniors and to be able to make the ASP World Junior Championships is unbelievable. I’m super excited and can’t wait. I’d be happy to make the Quarterfinals, but winning is the ultimate goal.
You mentioned that you’re proud to represent your country, tell us more about why.
I remember how stoked I was as a kid when Michel Bourez got second one year! It would be so good for my career to go there and get a good result too. I also remember Tamaroa McComb going, and it’s really good for the younger Tahitian kids to see local guys doing well in comps overseas. It shows them that they can do it also.
Did you grow up looking up to guys like Michel Bourez?
For sure! Guys like Michel, and all the chargers at Teahupoo. I remember going down when I was 9-years-old to watch the Billabong Pro. I loved it, I looked up to all the guys who come to the WCT and still do.
Michel spent a lot of time in France growing up, but you chose to spend time in Australia. Tell us why.
I came to Australia for a few of the grom comps when I was really young, I like it over here and I’ve made a few friends and my main sponsor Billabong is over here. I think it’s helped my surfing to go out at waves like Snapper, because it’s such a long wave and you can get barrels, do turns and airs. At home most of the waves are quite short reef breaks. It’s also been good for my surfing to be in Australia and surf beachbreaks when the surf is bad. It’s important to be good in all conditions.
How often do you surf Teahupoo?
Every time it’s on I try to go there, earlier this year I got a couple of sick ones. There was a couple of back-to-back swells and I was towing in for the first time. It was scary, but it was great.
Tell us how good it is for the Tahitian surfers to have ASP Pro Junior events in Tahiti.
It’s super good for the younger guys coming up, the next generation are going to start stepping up and it’s exciting for me to see. Michel did a lot of the Junior events in France and guys like Tamaroa and I did them in Australia, but it’s a long way to go if you lose. So to get some experience competing at home is a good start for the Tahitians.
Tell us about what it’s like to grow up surfing in Tahiti.
Tahiti is a small island, so we get all kinds of swell at spots all over the island. There are so many spots and depending on swell and wind direction you can usually find some surf. I surf mostly at a left called Taapuna, and at Papara where the Tahiti Nui Pro Junior was this year. I love being home.
So what’s next for you?
Well we have the ASP World Junior Championships in Brazil later in the year. After that I’m going to try and do some ASP Star events next year and travel with a few of the tahitian guys, travel like a team. It’s always good to travel with friends from home like the Australians and Brazilians do, it’s good for support.