La Sauzaie (Sunday, April 24, 2011) – Semifinalists were decided at the Protest Vendee Pro in excellent 4-5ft (1.5m) waves at La Sauzaie in an explosive morning session of competition which saw Alain Riou (Tahiti, PYF) 27, Chris Friend (Sunshine Coast, AUS) 20, Marlon Lipke (DEU) 27, and Tim Boal (Anglet, FRA) 27, remain in the hunt for this year’s Protest Vendee Pro 2011 title.
Event officials and surfers were greeted with an overnight swell increase and light off-shore winds which combed the main peak throughout the entire day to offer the perfect playing field for modern progressive surfing.
Protest team rider Marlon Lipke destroyed the peeling lefts along the La Sauzaie reef with powerful gouges and flowing carves to completely dominate all three of his heats and enters the business end of the competition as one of the firm favourites. Lipke was one of the few competitors who have managed to read to perfection the shifting peak of La Sauzaie and select only potentially high scoring waves.
“The left really suits me because it has a lot of open space to carve it through and then sometimes it jacks up and you can do a top turn and when that happens it is a plus for me to get the score. The normal left that runs through with a little bit of wall is really carvable but on the backhand it is not so.”
Lipke, a former Dream Tour member, grew in confidence with each of his appearances displaying signs of his surfing which sent him into the elite Top 44 in the 2009 season.
“I think the first heat I was still feeling the butterflies in my stomach but after that I relaxed and with each heat I am gaining more confidence. I kind of feel that I can get some waves and surf them the way I know how to and get some scores. Stoked to make a few heats as it has been a while and looking forward to tomorrow.”
Alain Riou came out on top of inform surfer Marc Lacomare (Hossegor, FRA) 19, who earlier in the day had posted the highest heat total of 17.00 out of 20 which included a deep backhand barrel followed by a savage snap in the pocket. To add to the drama, a power failure left competitors without scores for part of the heat.
“I knew Marc (Lacomare) didn’t have any solid ones so even though there was no electricity I knew I was in the lead with the second wave I got, explained Riou. “I got a good wave first and then I sat a long time with priority. For 15 minutes there were waves but none that we wanted to catch so I sat there and eventually got one which wasn’t great but I did a couple of ok turns and with a 6.00 I knew I had the lead but I also knew I had to get back out there and make the most of the priority.”
Riou, who finished equal 3rd, last week in Scotland, makes his second semi-final appearance in as many weeks and coming out on top over Lacomare made his achievement even more satisfying.
“I happy with the win because Marc (Lacomare) is an up-and-comer and a young surfer with a lot of hype about him so I knew it was going to be a tough one. There were quite a few good lefts in our heat and he kept away from them and was focused on the rights and he can do a lot of damage on the lefts with his airs as well so stoked to beat him and make it to the semis. Two semis in-a-row when I haven’t made one in about two years.” (laughs)
Chris Friend ousted Vincent Duvignac (FRA) with flowing rail carves and forehand smashes on the La Sauzaie right and has secured his best result since a serious foot injury last year kept him from competitive surfing. On his first visit to the Protest Vendee Pro, Friend has adjusted quickly to the tidal changes and their effects on the main peak.
“I am so happy because this is my first result since I broke my foot and I am feeling really good and having fun out there. The waves are really good but with the tide it changes so much after each heat. I was watching the water two heats before mine and then I went off to get changed and came back and it was completely different so I had to sit down and talk to my mates and see what it was doing and readjust everything. The quality of the wave is good, it is just difficult trying to read where the reef sits and where the waves are the best.”
The young Australian was not rattled by his slow start and adjusted to perfection his wave selection and the changing conditions to gain the lead and hold on to make the semi-finals.
“Vincent I think tried to get the ball rolling quickly but I decided to wait and get a good wave which I didn’t get until the last ten minutes so I had to change my game plan. I was initially going to go out there and wait for the sets but I ended up catching some of the inside ones and tried to build a house in the last part of the heat and it worked.”
Tim Boal, a former winner here in 2007, had a slow start to his heat due to an error in timing however managed to come out on top of former World Tour surfer Mickey Picon (FRA) despite not surfing to his full potential. In a tactical battle between two of Europe’s most experienced campaigners, both surfers selected different peaks to surf and it proved the longer Rights selected by Boal to be the superior scoring waves.
“I paddled out late because I missed timed my changing and Mickey started off well but then I got my first one and a score on the board. I missed one good wave but then got really lucky at the end to get a good score. I blew it a couple of times in that heat so I’m lucky I made it.”
Boal will face fellow Protest team rider Marlon Lipke in semi-final number two when competition resumes tomorrow and hopes to get his surfing act together in time for the encounter.
“It will be a fun heat and hopefully I can surf a bit better. I haven’t been really happy with my surfing but sometimes you think you surf well and you don’t make any heats and sometimes it is the other way around. But I’ll take the win.” (laughs)
The Protest Vendee Pro, stop nº2 on the Asp Europe Men’s Series, offers surfers valuable ranking points on both the Asp Europe Men’s Series and the Asp World rankings.
The Protest Vendee Pro is scheduled from April 21-25, 2011. For more information, and all upcoming results, photos, video highlights, press releases and LIVE webcast log-on to www.aspeurope.com
Upcoming Protest Vendee Pro Semi-Finals
Heat 1: Alain Riou (PYF) Vs Chris Friend (AUS)
Heat 2: Marlon Lipke (DEU) Vs Tim Boal (FRA)
Protest Vendee Pro Round Quarter-Final Results
Heat 1: Alain Riou (PYF) 12.60 Def. Marc Lacomare (FRA) 9.74
Heat 2: Chris Friend (AUS) 12.07 Def. Vincent Duvignac (FRA) 9.07
Heat 3: Marlon Lipke (DEU) 14.67 Def. Justin Mujica (PRT) 8.50
Heat 4: Tim Boal (FRA) 13.33 Def. Mickey Picon (FRA) 10.67
Protest Vendee Pro Round Five Results
Heat 1: Marc Lacomare (FRA) 17.00, Vincent Duvignac (FRA) 10.84, Frederico Morais (PRT) 10.77, Brent Dorrington (AUS) 4.86
Heat 2: Chris Friend (AUS) 11.93, Alain Riou (PYF) 10.14, Adrien Toyon (REU) 9.80, Hugo Savalli (REU) 8.87
Heat 3: Marlon Lipke (DEU) 16.07, Tim Boal (FRA) 14.37, Gregory Pastusiak (FRA) 7.93, Charles Martin (GLP) 7.54
Heat 4: Mickey Picon (FRA) 14.76, Justin Mujica (PRT) 11.57, Adrien Valero (FRA) 10.84, Tom Cloarec (FRA) 7.27
Remaining Protest Vendee Pro Round Four Results
Heat 6: Marlon Lipke (DEU) 13.50, Adrien Valero (FRA) 10.40, Lincoln Taylor (AUS) 10.13, Borja Agote (EUK) 5.10
Heat 7: Mickey Picon (FRA) 10.90, Gregory Pastusiak (FRA) 10.26, Eneko Acero (EUK) 10.00, Jose Ferreira (PRT) 4.13
Heat 8: Justin Mujica (PRT) 13.93, Charles Martin (GLP) 13.10, Joao Guedes (PRT) 11.07, Dane Anderson (USA) 9.67