Vieux Boucau, France, (Sunday September 6th) :
Ben « Skindog » Skinner claimed last week-end in France his first victory of the season on the 2009 European Tour of Longboard. In perfect 3’ to 5’ foot hollow left handers, the former 2007 ETL Champion and recently 3rd in the World at the I.S.A in Costa Rica was in impressive form througout all the event, scoring a ridiculous heat average of 16,5 points (out of possible 20).
Opposed to French style master Damien Castera (Bayonne, 26 years old), « Skindog » just destroyed every waves, melting his powerful backhand assaults with endless noserides. Damien, the smooth goofy footer from the French Basque Country, tried his best to get back to the first place during the 30 minutes final, but got outscored, even with an impressive 16,50pts at the end of his heat. Ending runner-up, The French log rider secured his best carreer result so far, after a 4th place last year at the Biscarosse ETL. « i’m really glad i made it to the final today. We’re not that used to compete in man on man heats here, but i’m really happy with this result, i felt confident and really enjoyed to finaly surf a left-hander this perfect on the E.T.L, as most of the time i have to compete on my backhand. I’ve been trying to release pressure during my heats and have more fun, and the good scores were coming so i’m really stoked ! »
For the first time since the beginning of the European Longboard Tour, the man on man format was used from the semis, allowing the contestants to get closer to the situations they have to live when on the LQS or WLT events. The large audience, gathered on the beach were applauding and cheering every scores and really appreciated the man on man show, easier to understand, especially on this kind of spectacular waves.
Equal 3rds were French sensations Alexis Deniel (Vieux Boucau ETL 08 Champion) and local hero Rémy « Shawn » Arauzo (2008 ETL Champion, 5th in the last ISA Costa Rica World Surfing Games). Both surfed really good heats in the pumping left-handers, but eventually ended short, even with more than 15 points out of possible 20 on their score sheets. Both surfers are serious threats for the Title, and these 3rd places are definitely keepers for the final rankings, after the Estoril event final (Portugal, 20-22nd of November)
For Skinner, everything seems to fit perfectly in this mid-season :
« I’m over the moon right now »…says Skinner… « it’s been such an amazing start for me this season, first in April with the ASP Europe title, then the WLT in Japan, my results back home and then this 3rd in Costa Rica and now a win ! I do feel great and confident in my heats, my boards just work great, i just feel good ! » About the next part of the season, the British states « I’m really looking forward for these next few months, first the Eurosurf in Jersey, then the final stop of the WLT in the Maldives, and then the last three stops of the European Tour in Portugal and Morocco ! It feels really great to travel with all the guys on the Tour, we’re like this big travelling family and it’s just perfect to share our time together and to be all in this perfect family vibes. All my congratulations to Damien (Castera) who really improved this year, he surfed an amazing week-end and he’s really dangerous in heats right now ! »
The next E.T.L stops will all happen in November, first in Faro (Algarve – Portugal), for a 2 stars event, before heading to North Morocco (Bouznika, 3 stars) and the dramatic final event will be, as usual, in Estoril (North Lisbon, 3 stars).
So still a long way to go for our riders, the E.T.L season just begun and the longboard level already seems to be going off the roof !
On behalf of the European Surfing Federation, another time, big thanks to the event organization, the Vieux Boucau Surf Club and all the sponsors.
Julien « Vico » Hamel