Rip Curl Pro Hossegor/Seignosse
It was a day of tension and pressure at the Rip Curl Pro pres. by Sprite as the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) 6-Star Prime event got closer to its business end in tricky two to three foot (0.5 to 1 meter) waves at Les Bourdaines. Sixteen men only remain in contention for the valuable 3000 ratingspoints going to the winner and the 2008 champion will be crowned tomorrow.
The much expected 3-man clashes of Round 4 got underway as the tide was still going out making the competitors surf the outside sand bank to try and secure the precious ticket for the first Man-on-man battles. It was a nationsclash at the famous beachbreak and seven Australians, five Europeans, two Americans and two Brazilians will surf on the final day.
Nathaniel Curran (USA), current ASP World Qualifying Series
(WQS) leader and recent winner in Lacanau, kept up his
domination cruise again reaching the finals of a major event for the fourth consecutive time after Huntington, Japan and Lacanau.
"It was really tough out there with the strong tide change and currents," Curran said. "The sand bank out there was still giving some good enough waves and it was kind of fun. Just so ticky and a bit of a gamble."
Curran, who will improve his overall ratingstotal once more,
will surf against local rising star Joan Duru (FRA), with the
same board he has been surfing since the US Open of Surfing.
"I am feeling so good riding that board, I will keep it as long
as I can," Curran said. "I won in Huntington and Lacanau, got a fifth in Japan and am still in the event here so I will just try as hard again tomorrow."
Curran who has not done worse than a quarterfinal finish in
three events, is seen as a favorite again for the crown at
ASP World Tour Europeans Miky Picon (FRA) and Aritz Aranburu (EUK) led the regional contingent with consistency and confidence getting away with the precious Round 5 ticket, joining the biggest ever European crew to meet on a final day of a major ASP event.
Picon, who has had his best year ever on the ASP World Tour thus far, bested Rodrigo Dornelles (BRA) to advance behind ASP WQS No. 2 Chris Davidson (AUS) and giving the few crowds on the beach a good time en route to equalling his 2007 result.
"It was really hard out there and I knew it would very tough
with the tide change and currents," Picon said. "There were
still some waves giving a bit of a potential and I surfed well
enough to best Rodrigo (Dornelles)."
Picon, who was the second French man to qualify for the Dream Tour in 2006, has been a leader for the upcoming generation of French and European surfers and will be a serious contender on his homelands.
"If you look at the past couple of years, there has been
European surfers at every major event finals," Picon said.
"There has been a lot of work, comitment and training as well as and I am not surprised there is a few of us in the finals."
Aritz Aranburu (EUK), 22, a rookie on this yearÃÔ ASP World
Tour, was the first European to lead the strong contingent
through to tomorrow's finals besting Tim Boal (FRA) and
eliminating fellow World Tour member Tiago Pires (PRT).
Aranburu, who posted a solid 14.76 point heat result (out of a possible 20), will be first out when competition resumes.
"We know each other very well but when it comes to a heat you want to make it whoever you surf against," Aranburu said. "The conditions changed a lot throughout the day and it was pretty bumpy and messy out there but I found a coupe of good rides. I am very happy to see many Europeans getting good results in the event."
Aranburu, who missed four of six ASP World Tour events this year due to back-to-back injuries to his meniscus and ankle, will secure his best result this year whatever happens.
"I am feeling really in good form at the moment and it is even
better to have friends and family around," Aranburu said. "I am still surfing with a strap around my ankle but I am getting back to my level and it is a great relief."
Aranburu will meet close friend and fellow European top surfer Marlon Lipke (DEU) when Round 5 resumes.
The Brazilian pack was in good form as well today with 2 of
their representatives taking the best out of the conditions to
advance. Jihad Khodr (BRA), currently among the ASP Top 45,
advanced through to Round 5 ahead of local rising star and
former ASP European Junior champion Joan Duru.
"I am stoked to keep goig in the event," Khodr said. "I love
coming here in Hossegor and Seignosse and I am just enjoying my time both in and out of the event. The waves were tricky, it was a struggle but it looks like tomorrow could be a great day so I cannot wait to paddle back out."
Coming from excellent performance in the last ASP WQS 6-Star event in Lacanau, Australians Yadin Nicol and Josh Kerr got through one more heat in the Rip Curl Pro today as well and will be some of the favorites towards the crown. The champion will be crowned tomorrow and some consistent five foot (1.5 meter)) waves are expected for the showdown.
The Rip Curl Pro is webcast LIVE at www.ripcurl.com ,
www.aspworldtour.com and www.aspeurope.com 
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