Junior Pro Sopela
Kauli Vaast crowned Junior European Champion
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 23 July, 2017 - Basque Country - Neis Lartigue and Leo Paul Etienne have claimed the 2017 Junior Pro Sopela titles in solid five foot waves today at Playa de Arriatera. Fun conditions allowed the last surfers to showcase their best act and close the 2017 European Junior QS leg on a great note.
The day started with the Men’s quarterfinal and was highlighted by Kauli Vaast (PYF)’s win against Maxime Dos Anjos (FRA). At only fifteen years old, Vaast’s claimed the regional Junior title by merely advancing into the semis.
“I was really stressed before entering the water, but luckily I managed to calm down before the start of the heat,” Vaast said. “There were not many waves and I’ve had to wait a long time before getting a first score, but after that everything went good. I’m so happy to win the European Title today. It’s the first year that I’ve been competing on all the Junior events, so that’s a great result for me! I will keep training hard for the World Juniors for sure.”
He then proceeded to beat Theo Julitte (FRA) in the semis, and qualified for the final where he would match up with another form surfer, Leo Paul Etienne (FRA).
Finals unfolded in completely different conditions. The long and slow left hander breaking at the outside left room to several powerful bowls close to the shore and women started the show.
Neis Lartigue (FRA) opened up straight at the beginning of the heat with a fully committed re-entry on a set wave and got a 6.00. The answer from impatient Ellie Turner (GBR) wasn’t quite as convincing. On this first exchange, Lartigue put pressure on Turner and the latter couldn’t manage to get a consequent score until the second half of the heat. Lartigue found a 7 point wave that became her best score but Turner finally caught one of the best looking waves of this final. She received an 8.00, then only needed an average score to take the lead again and win the event.
After many attempts, she couldn’t find it and finally had to make do with a second position. Neis Lartigue ended her season with a career-best result in Sopela.
“I’m stoked,” Lartigue said with emotion. “It’s such a good feeling. I still can’t believe I won. Ellie (Turner) is a very good surfer. She is ripping. She has been surfing very well during the whole event and this is what pushed me to give my best and outperform myself. After the complicated season I’ve had this year, this is the finish that I was hoping for.”
Ellie Turner claimed the runner-up spot and her overall season was solid, but she was still disappointed with her second place result.
“That’s not the result I was hoping for,” Turner regretted. “Neis (Lartigue) surfed really well and I’m happy for her, she deserved the win. I was unlucky as I didn’t get more waves but I’m still happy with my European ranking”.
Men finally hit the water and Leo Paul Etienne (FRA) got busy in the first few minute, scoring a good 6 point ride. Kauli Vaast (PYF) immediately answered with an 8.17 with only one extremely radical maneuver. In a intense back and forth battle, Etienne managed to squeeze three excellent turns on one wave to post an 8.33. He quickly backed it up thanks to an impressive barrel on his forehand.
For the first time in the event, Vaast found himself in a difficult situation, needing a very good score to take the lead. He picked up a great wave and attacked the lip with three critical vertical snaps.
The final suddenly became the best heat of the event. Etienne got blessed with a massive barrel, and a fully committed re-entry which became his best score, an 8.43. With a combination of 16.76 points, he claimed the event title.
“I’m so happy to win the last event of the junior tour,” Etienne stated. “I’ve earned enough points to improve my ranking and now I’m qualified for the World Champs. The waves were super fun out there. I even had a few barrels, great re-entries and good scores.”
Vaast, who had a great campaign towards the finals, has been challenged for the first time of the event. He had to surf on his backhand and couldn’t get back in the lead.
“I wanted to win,” Vaast said. “I didn’t really managed to find the right spot to get the bomb. Wave selection was the key. It looked really fun from the beach but at the end it was very difficult. I’m still happy with my second place and even more with my european title.”
Following the completion of the last European Junior Qualifying Series event, the Top 5 stands as follows. For the full ranking, visit this page.
MEN’S EUROPEAN JUNIOR QS TOP 5:
1 - Kauli Vaast (PYF) ** European Champion **
2 - Marco Mignot (FRA)
3 - Leo Paul Etienne (FRA)
4 - Theo Julitte (FRA)
5 - Erwan Blouin (FRA)
WOMEN’S EUROPEAN JUNIOR QS TOP 5:
1 - Teresa Bonvalot (PRT) ** European Champion **
2 - Ellie Turner (GBR)
3 - Neis Lartigue (FRA)
4 - Juliette Lacome (FRA)
5 - Vahine Fierro (PYF)
The men’s top 4 and the women’s top 2 will be competing at the World Junior Championships, in Kiama, NSW, Australia next January, to fight for the coveted World Junior Champion Title.
The Junior Pro Sopela is scheduled from July 19-23, 2017 in Sopela, Bizcaya / Basque Country. For all results, photos, video highlights and press releases, log on to worldsurfleague.com.
JUNIOR PRO SOPELA MEN’S FINAL RESULTS:
1 - Leo Paul Etienne (FRA) 16.76
2 - Kauli Vaast (PYF) 15.37
JUNIOR PRO SOPELA WOMEN’S FINAL RESULTS:
1 - Neis Lartigue (FRA) 13.00
2 - Ellie Turner (GBR) 12.83
JUNIOR PRO SOPELA MEN’S SEMIFINAL RESULTS:
SF 1: Leo Paul Etienne (FRA) 13.16, Erwan Blouin (FRA) 11.47
SF 2: Kauli Vaast (PYF) 16.47, Theo Julitte (FRA) 14.30
JUNIOR PRO SOPELA WOMEN’S SEMIFINAL RESULTS:
SF 1: Ellie Turner (GBR) 16.40, Vahine Fierro (PYF) 16.20
SF 2: Neis Lartigue (FRA) 13.90, Eveline Hooft (NLD) 11.24
JUNIOR PRO SOPELA MEN’S QUARTERFINAL RESULTS:
QF 1: Erwan Blouin (FRA) 13.83, Thomas Debierre (FRA) 11.80
QF 2: Leo Paul Etienne (FRA) 15.60, Renan Grainville (FRA) 14.23
QF 3: Kauli Vaast (PYF) 13.83, Maxime Dos Anjos (FRA) 10.00
QF 4: Theo Julitte (FRA) 15.94, Afonso Antunes (PRT) 11.40