Top Seeds Lead Charge Towards Finals of O’Neill Pro Cordoama

The O’Neill Pro Cordoama got closer to its climax today in Portugal, the good two to three foot (0.5 to 1 meter) waves giving top seeds the ideal set-up to express their skills and get their Quarterfinals’ berth.

Gordon Fontaine (FRA) was the man of the day with the highest heat score, the 19-year-old Frenchman lookin forward to his possible first ASP sanctionned event win tomorrow.  Copyright: Aquashot/aspeurope.comWith seven heats only remaining before the 2009 champion is crowned, Saturday’s finals will bring pressure and upsets for an exciting finish.

The second day of competition was dominated by rising surfers Gordon Fontaine (FRA), 19, and current ASP European Junior ratings’ No. 5 Luka Guichard (DEN), 19, both men posting solid heat scores to advance through to the Quarterfinals of the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) 1-Star event. Fontaine, who has been on the Pro Junior tour for several years now, came up with a series of fins-out re-entries and vertical turns showing his opponents he was at ease in the small conditions.

“It’s good to make the Quarterfinals after losing Round 1 in the ASP Grade-1 Buondi Pro Junior at the beginning of the week,” Fontaine said. “I felt comfortable in the water, got the better waves but was pretty focused on blocking my opponents. I surfed a lot of waves during that heat and it ended up well.”

Fontaine’s 15.10 point heat tally (out of a possible 20) was today’s best result, the Frenchman and Brittany resident grabbing a serious confidence boost before tomorrow’s showdown. Fontaine hasn’t won an event yet in his young career and the expected similar conditions tomorrow could give the man a serious opportunity to clinch a maiden ASP event crown.

“I think I have a good understanding of the contest area and it definitely helps out with confidence when paddling out,” Fontaine said after Friday's competition. “I am taking it heat by heat and looking forward to competing tomorrow.”

Portugal resident and Danish surfer Luka Guichard came close to Fontaine’s solid performance with a 14.73 point total. Guichard, whose twin brother Joachim currently leads the ASP European Junior ratings, used his explosive vertical attack to oust his heat opponents and advance confidently through to the Quarterfinals.

“I am pretty stoked to be in the Quarters as this is one my home beaches,” Guichard said. “It wasn’t an easy heat and I stressed out a little as the time was running but that one good wave came at the end and I was able to grab that qualification spot.”

Guichard, who is in his last year as a Pro Junior surfer, is looking to build his seeding points and a big result here would give him both a first win in an ASP sanctioned event as well as a great boost for the ASP European WQS Tour.

“There are a lot of good surfers in the event and I know it is going to be hard,” Guichard said. “I am going to give my best shot Saturday and I hope it works out well. I’ll see how it goes.”

ASP Grade-1 Buondi Pro Junior runner-up Damien Chaudoy (REU), 19, showed he was not on a break after his excellent run in the Under-21 division and finished the day with the highest single wave score, an excellent 8.83 point ride out of a possible 10. Chaudoy, whose fresh progressive style seems to please the ASP judging panel this week, will be another dangerous title contender when the event resumes Saturday, July 11, along with event best scorer thus far Pierre-Valentin Laborde (FRA), 18, and last year’s runner-up Eduardo Fernandes (PRT).

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