Hawaiian Alana Blanchard (Kauai) outclassed a quality field of young European surfers today to win the Rip Curl Girls Pro Junior in small 1-3ft (0.5-1m) waves at Liencres Beach in Spain. The 17-year-old also wins a Wildcard entry into Round 1 of the Rip Curl Girls World Tour contest - Stop 4 of 7 on this year's ASP Women's World Tour - due to start this Tuesday, September 4. It will be her first appearance in a World Tour event and valuable experience as she looks ahead to the 2008 ASP World Qualifying Series.
Blanchard faced French trio Pauline Ado, Laetitia Sudre and Lea Mengual in the final, eventually finishing in first with a two-wave heat score of 14.16 points out of 20.00.
Ado started strong in the final, scoring a 7.50-point ride on her very first wave. Although the former ISA World Junior Champion quickly added a 3.33-point ride to move further ahead in the heat, Blanchard paddled into the best wave of the final and posted an 8.33-point ride with 16 minutes remaining to move into first. She added a 5.83 score two minutes later and then patiently sat on Ado until the final siren sounded.
"I'm really excited. It was a difficult final, but I'm so happy about the result," said Blanchard. "I was really nervous when it started, but I finally got that good one, which changed everything, and after that I just tried to take control of the heat."
"I haven't slept at all since I got here because of jet-lag, so I'm just so happy that the event turned out this well. It's going to be a good experience for me to surf a World Tour event, so I'm really looking forward to it."
When asked about Ado's surfing talent, Blanchard replied: "I knew Pauline was going to make the final, because she surfs so good and is one of the best young surfers in the world. She surfed really well today and yesterday, but I just got that one good wave in the final today. That was the difference."
With her second place finish this weekend, Ado was officially awarded the 2007 ASP Europe Pro Junior Title. The 16-year-old finished first overall ahead of 2006 Champion Lee Anne Curren (FRA) and Alizée Arnaud (FRA) in second and third on the ratings respectively.
Although she was excited about the Pro Junior Title, Ado was obviously disappointed about finishing runner-up today and missing the opportunity to win the Wildcard entry into the main event. "When I'm in a final, I really want to win it," said Ado. "Unfortunately I only got the one good wave and Alana got two good ones, so that was how it turned out."
"I felt good when I got my first wave, but maybe I waited a little too long after that to try and get another good one. It was very small today and there were not a lot of good waves, so in the end that was the problem. I am really happy about the European Pro Junior title though, because last year I didn't do well in the European Pro Junior events. It was a goal for me this year and it has worked out well."
When asked about Blanchard's performance today, Ado replied: "Alana surfs really well and is a very good competitor. She surfed well in the final and got the good waves. I think she will do really well on the WQS next year and wish her good luck this week."
The official waiting period for the Rip Curl Girls World Tour contest - Stop 4 on this year's ASP Women's World Tour - will start on Tuesday, September 4. The entire event will be broadcast live internationally via the online webcast at: www.ripcurl.com/girlsfestival. More information on this week's Rip Curl Girls Festival can also be found online at www.ripcurl.com
1. Alana Blanchard
2. Pauline Ado
3. Laetitia Sudre
4. Lea Mengual