The ASP 3-Star Tuaca Longboard Pro and the ASP 6-Star Tuaca Ladies Longboard Pro opened proceedings at this year’s Relentless Boardmasters in assoc. with Vans in testing wind affected 4-5ft peaks with local favourite Ben Skinner (Cornwall, GBR) 26, leading top seeds through to the semi-finals which were decided today.
Europe’s finest male longboarders are doing battle at the iconic Fistral beach Newquay, for a place in the top-two ASP European Longboard rankings to thus earn the right to participate in the upcoming ASP World Longboard Tour which kicks off in Sri Lanka later this month. The women’s division will decide the top two ranked female longboarders for the 2012 ASP Women’s World longboard Tour.
Skinner was on fire from his opening Round One appearance through to his quarter-final clash scoring 9-point rides in all three rounds. Local knowledge and a clearly visible focus towards achieving qualification allowed Skinner to finish with the highest single wave score of the event, a near perfect 9.73 out of 10. Performing radical above-the-lip surfing combined with classic hang-fives and full-rail carves, the power-house natural footer left a clear message that he is looking for a win on home soil.
“I feel really good at the moment and my board is amazing and it feels great to be surfing at Fistral. I’m at home and it is such a big event. I have had a big build up and I am glad to get through those heats and I hope I haven’t peaked too early in the event.”
Skinner, who currently leads the ASP European Longboard rankings, knew conditions to perfection and made sure that he waited for the quality waves to take control against some highly skilled competitors. Into the semi-finals, Skinner now needs to make the final to guarantee his spot on the ASP Men’s World Longboard Tour.
“It is definitely difficult as there are peaks coming up all over the place. It is a bit of a lottery but you just have to read the right waves which have the bowls on them. It is quite hard out there and a lot of paddling so I am going to wear my short arm next time. These O’Neill suits are so warm and I will go for a lighter suit and I can’t wait for the semi-finals.”
Antoine Delpero (Biarritz, FRA) 25, ASP World Longboard ranked nº2, was another top seed to tame conditions and find himself in semi-final nº1 matched up against Adam Griffiths (Newquay, GBR) 23. Delpero took his time to find quality waves selecting the longer rights to rack up his solid heat totals and has quietly worked his way through the event to find himself in a perfect position to make his assault on the Tuaca Longboard Pro title.
“They are really physical conditions and it is not really easy. It is hard to find the waves which are opening so you are sitting out the back and you don’t know what the wave is going to do. It is a mystery out there. (laughs) I got a couple of good waves and pleased to get through.”
Delpero, who has already qualified for the ASP World Longboard Tour, is using this event as an important warm up event looking towards the upcoming World Tour as well as a chance to be with his fellow longboarders and his younger brother who is also looking to qualify.
“It is always good to do longboard events because there are not a lot. So it is a warm-up and I am happy to be here with these guys and there is my brother here as well and I hope he qualifies too.”
In the ASP 6-Star Tuaca Ladies Longboard Pro, Jennifer Smith (California, USA) 25, former two-time ASP Woman’s World Longboard Champion, showed her true skills in the testing conditions to move through to the semi-finals where she will face Emilie Liber (Vieux Boucau, FRA) 21. The talented natural footer had to fight hard to find a high scoring wave after failing on several earlier attempts to get her heat account underway.
“I am thrilled to be through to the semis for sure. I have never surfed in England before so it is interesting to come and see how the waves are in other places. Today it is like ‘victory at sea’ out there. Yesterday it was beautiful and glassy and today it is big and onshore. I am glad that I got two good waves out there. It was really hard to first of all to get outside and to second of all pick a good wave. It took me more than half the heat before I got a good one.”
Smith amassed a two-wave combined total of 15.60 out of 20 which included and excellent 8.33, the highest single wave score of the Tuaca Ladies Longboard Pro. A combination of nose rides, carves and a close-out floater demonstrated her ability where other competitors struggled with the conditions. A recent visit to family members in England has not taken the edge of her competitive skills.
“I was already in Europe from the Roxy Pro and I have a cousin in Surrey,” explained Smith. “So it was cool to go visit before coming here. I got to stay out in the country between France and this event for a week and that was great.”
The Relentless Boardmasters in assoc. with Vans starts Tuesday August 9th along with the Tuaca Longboard Pro, with the world’s best short board surfers coming back once again to fight for the prestigious Boardmasters title. Stepping up to a full 6-Star category, this year’s edition is set to be packed with some spectacular surfing action in this 145,000$US event.