A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
Wilson Leads the Charge Towards Finals
LA SAUZAIE, France — It was another day of comitment for all remaining surfers, solid 4 to 5 ft (1.2 to 1.5 meter) waves and sunny weather blessing Day 5 of the Vendee Pro.
Young guns bested veterans Saturday and made the show during 8 heats to decide tomorrow’s man-on-man finals featuring the last eight men of the ASP WQS 4-Star event.
The Vendee Pro will crown its 2008 champion Sunday and seven heats remain to wrap up the show.
Blake Wilson (AUS), Saturday’s undisputed performer with an excellent 16.50 point heat tally in Heat 2 of Round 4, advanced to Quarterfinal No. 2 and created the upset of the day when he defeated ASP Top 45 surfer Miky Picon (FRA).
“It is my first time in France and I did not expect it to be that cold but the waves are fun,” Wilson said. “I am stoked to see the aussies do good here. We travel together and it is unreal that two of us are still in the event.”
Wilson, who started his maiden ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) year in January, surfed four waves only during the 25-minute decider but scored a 7.33 and a 9.17 back to back (both out of possible 10) to qualify for the final day.
“It is my first year on the WQS,” Wilson said. “I want to do as much events as I can and I have already done two quarterfinals so far, this is my third one so everything is going quite good.”
He will now face Arthur Bourbon (GLP) in a man-on-man battle when competition resumes.
Hugo Savalli (REU), 23, last Reunion Island born surfer of the Vendee Pro, was a stand out as well in the solid waves. Savalli, who has been a WQS surfer for three years, achieved his best result in a year by advancing to the quarterfinals.
“I feel pretty good right now and I hope to keep going in the event,” Savalli said. “I trained a lot this winter in Reunion and I am focused on the ASP European Pro Surf Tour. I went to Margaret River and got through two rounds so it is starting good.”
Luke Campbell (AUS), one of three Australians in Round 4, eliminated reigning ASP European Pro Junior champion Romain Cloitre (REU) to secure his spot in Sunday’s finals.
“It is a lot colder than Margaret River and West Australia where I live,’ Campbell said. “There is always a lot of crowd here when the sun comes out and it is a great event so I am stoked to make the man-on-man finals.”
Campbell, who got injured last year, is now back full time on the ASP WQS and will attend all main events this year.
“I just hope not to get injured again this year,” Campbell said. “I have a new sponsor and everything I need to have a good year so I will take it heat by heat and try my best.”
Romain Laulhe (FRA) is one of the five french surfers who will surf tomorrow. Laulhe, who placed second to former Vendee Pro champion Eric Rebiere (FRA), surfed confidently to best Dale Lovelock (AUS) and Marc Lacomare (FRA).
“I am stoked to make the man-on-man finals,” Laulhe said. “It was my main goal in the Vendee Pro and it is good to achieve it in the good waves that we have had in the last two days. I have been travelling a bit recently and it helped me step back from contests and come back stronger. It looks like it is positive.”
Five French surfers will face two Australians and one American surfer when competition resumes, the event now going to man-on-man format from Quarterfinals to Final.
NOTE: The Vendee Pro is LIVE on www.aspeurope.com. All news, videos, podcasts and photos are available on www.aspeurope.com.