SAO MIGUEL, Azores Islands/Portugal (Sunday, August 15, 2010) – The Billabong Azores Islands Pro presented by Nissan an Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) sanctioned event was forced to cancel due to a lack of contestable waves. Event officials and surfers were greeted at dawn by a flat ocean as the expected overnight swell increase failed to eventuate. Contest director Rodrigo Heredia made another call mid-morning however this proved fruitless leaving the remaining 96 surfers of round two unable to compete further in the 145,000$US event.
Despite all attempts made by Rodrigo Heredia to complete the event or at least advance through some more rounds the absolute flat conditions made it impossible to start round two. Heredia who has been coming to the Azores all his life has never seen such conditions for such a long period of time. Remaining positive and helping both event officials and surfers as much as possible during the entire event Heredia received no criticism for any of his decisions.
“We waited as long as we could to try and get a result and do the right thing by the surfers but there was no chance of running the event on double banks today because it is unsurfable. We have studied the option of extending the waiting period and finishing tomorrow however the forecast is not looking good either. This is not a usual situation here to have no swell but this year ‘El Niño’ is causing this flat spell and I hope it doesn’t happen again here or in any other of the contest sites in the world”
Looking on the positive side of things Heredia reminded us of what has been accomplished at the Billabong Azores Islands Pro presented by Nissan.
“We ran as much of the event as we could and we had a winner, Laura Enever in the Billabong Azores Islands Women’s Pro and we completed the first round of the men’s event. We are looking at changing the dates of the event next year to September when we are guaranteed waves.”
“I think everyone understands the situation we are in and for this to happen in the Azores is better than in other places because at least this is an amazing place to visit, to travel around these beautiful islands and it is something that all the surfers agree on.”
Acting surfer’s rep Jay Thompson (AUS) summed up the general feeling of the surfers remaining in round two. Knowing that all competitors were fighting for the crucial points on offer for the ASP world rankings Thompson was optimistic about the future of the event and felt for all the surfers.
“It is unfortunate that we couldn’t finish the event but that is part of running surf contests that sometimes Mother Nature doesn’t help us out with the waves. It’s one of those situations that you can’t control and it is out of our hands. It’s a beautiful place and if we had a little swell this week it would have been good but we just have to take the positive things out of the situation and look forward to next year here again.”
“It has been a great event,” continued Thompson. “Everyone has been making the most of their time here on the island so it is a shame to not finish because it was a very crucial event for all the boys but I have managed to get in a lot of training and underwater swims for my next contest in Tahiti so it has helped me prepare for that.”
Iain Buchanan, ASP Europe regional head judge, found himself in a situation for only the second time after over 10 years of working on events in Europe. Former competitor on the ASP World Tour, Buchanan completely understood what was going through the minds of event staff and surfers faced with not being able to conclude the contest.
“The forecast we were hoping for didn’t eventuate and we are faced with basically a flat ocean and not even showing signs of what we started in yesterday with the women’s final. It has been a huge effort by Rodrigo (Heredia) to put this event on and the support from Billabong as well to try and get a result for all the surfers.”
“We needed at least 4 hours of waves to complete at least one more round of competition,” explained Buchanan. “What we have now and checking the marine forecasts it is impossible today to get that amount of time so the decision to not continue was taken.”
Dave Mailman, ASP Europe President, was on hand at the Billabong Azores Islands Pro presented by Nissan to witness how the event was run and to see firsthand all the effort put into the event by Rodrigo Heredia and Billabong. Disappointed that a champion was not crowned in 2010 Mailman has already started to work on next year’s edition and is certain that the Billabong Azores Islands Pro has a big future as one of the main contests on ASP Europe’s event calendar.
“These are unfortunate circumstances that we never want to see happen and for all the surfers and ASP staff and for Rodrigo Heredia too. He has done a great job getting this contest rolling last year and keeping it rolling this year and ASP is doing all it can to change the dates for 2011 to make sure we are in a better wave window. When there is no surf there is nothing we can do about it and everyone understands and is cool about it and we will be back next year for sure.”
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