Off in the Azores Islands of Portugal, female surfers are celebrating big wins and the future of the ASP World Championship Tour for upcoming seasons. Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) at 18-years-old was deemed champion of the ASP 6-Star Praia de Santa Barbara, Sao Miguel Azores Islands Pro 2012. The final heat came down to France native, Pauline Ado, and the young South African athlete raising up the rankings with serious points. Third place was Hawaiian Alana Blanchard, who has earned enough points with her 3rd at Azores to bump her up into the Top 6 of the World Rankings and kick off the 2013 season on the ASP World Championship Tour. Australian competitor Philippa Anderson placed equal third after being defeated by the South African winner. After 2 lay days, the Azores Pro ended in a spectacular finale with big news for its competitors and qualifying points.
At the end of an exciting Women’s World Tour season, the final Top 6 qualifiers were decided in Sao Miguel today:
1. Sage Erickson (USA) – 12720 points
2. Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) – 12200
3. Pauline Ado (FRA) – 8880
4. Rebecca Woods (AUS) – 8840
5. Alana Blanchard (HAW) – 8760
6. Sofia Mulanovich (PER) – 8640
In just the first heat of the entire event, Buitendag recorded a 9.5 out of 10 that she accomplished with three backside hacks on a running righthander. After plowing through the whole day with great scores, Buitendag found herself in the finals against Ado.
“I feel great!” Buitendag stated. “I started really bad in Australia this year, so when I went to Peru it was kind of no pressure and I got a win there. It was just way beyond my expectations and getting two wins in one year is just plain crazy, so I’m stoked! It’s the most heats I’ve surfed in a day for sure, I think 6 since 7:30 this morning… My mom’s been feeding me oranges, chocolate, and everything she could find that helped! When I got into the final, I thought, ‘I didn’t surf five heats for nothing!’ I just wanted to do my best for 20 more minutes.”
Even though Buitendag had solidified her spot on the ASP Women’s World Championship Tour before the SATA Airlines Azores Pro, she ended strong with the win at Azores after five excellent results in the major events this season.
“It’s such an honor to be seen as a Top 17 woman in the world… I don’t know what to expect,” states Buitendag. “I’ve watched a couple of CT events, but I’ve never participated in one. I’m just going to learn from each event, and I’ll see what I can do. I I can create some upsets I’ll be happy! I’m looking forward to all events next year… maybe Snappers the most, cause I’ve watched it several years in a row and it’s definitely amazing!
Watch Buitendag’s Wave of the Day landing her a 9.5 score on her way to a first place finish:
Buitendag will be surfing the World Juniors in Bali later in the month: “All of my friends are going and it’s going to be a really good time with great waves,” she confirmed.
Runner-up in the event, Pauline Ado (FRA), secured her requalification position for the 2013 Championship Tour and put on an incredible fight the entire day. Ado needed to better a quarter-final result to improve her 6th place ranking.
“I’m super tired and sore. I surfed six times today, but at the same time so happy to re-qualify!” Ado commented. “I came in this contest number 6 and I knew I had to get a good result. I’ve been really nervous all week, so I’m really relieved and happy… Bianca surfed really good and I’m super stoked!”
Ado can now relax after a great season knowing that she has secured her spot amongst the Elite ASP Top 17 for the 2013 season.
“All week I didn’t sleep really good, so I just tried to focus on what I could control, basically my surfing and myself, and I was trying not to think about the other surfers… It’s really hard with everybody around you telling you things about the points, rankings etc.. but in the end it worked. My parents are here and even though they’re not really coaches, they’re always here to support me if I’m having a bad day or if I need to talk… I knew the last events in Europe were going to be important, so that’s why I asked them to come. They’re really nervous; I think being on the beach is worse, because you can’t control anything – they just have to watch and wait!”
Ecstatic about placing 3rd at Azores, Alana Blanchard (HAW) will now join the Top 6 of the World Rankings and kick off the 2013 season on tour with all of her closest friends.
“I’m pretty tired, but really happy!” Blanchard reflected. “I had a lot of fun in the Azores and am excited to come back next year! It was definitely tricky today; the conditions kept changing but there were waves the whole day so I think we all got lucky and we’re all really happy! I’m really stoked about making the CT, I wasn’t really thinking about it so I’m really happy to hear it.”
Blanchard impressed with her stylish forehand approach throughout the event and was able to better a 25th place with flying colors. Now sitting in 5th place, Blanchard looks forward to joining the WCT 2013. “I’ve been on the WCT two times, and I’m excited to see all the girls again and you know like travel with all the Hawaiian girls and just see everyone surfing at their best! I’m always looking forward to Snapper but all the events are amazing so I’m super excited!!”
Next to Blanchard, Australian competitor Philippa Anderson placed equal third after being defeated by event winner Bianca Buitendag.
“I’m super stoked!!” Anderson said. “I’ve never made a semi-final, and the last three events of this leg I kind of just missed out by making a mistake so I’m really happy to get third.”
Anderson placed equal second in last year’s ASP Women World Junior Championships and plans on working harder next year to be ready for some of the world’s best up and coming athletes.
“I can definitely feel it in my arms, so I’m going to go home and tell my trainers that they’re not training me enough, because I could feel it out there!” Anderson said. “I’m glad we surfed today, because yesterday it would have been just based on luck, which is not really what surfing is about… I’m so happy with my ranking at the end, because last year I was around the 20 something, so I jumped up a little bit and I’ll be back again next year!”
As the Women’s World Tour season comes to and end, many are surprised by the fierce competitors that just missed the mark for the next year’s WCT. Alize Arnaud (FRA) and Justine Dupont (FRA) are sent back to the drawing board to compete in the Star events in order to redeem their spots on the WCT 2014.
Miss the early action? Check out this video recap from the earlier heats:
SATA AIRLINES AZORES PRO FINAL RESULTS:
1 – Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 16.76
2 – Pauline Ado (FRA) 11.90
SATA AIRLINES AZORES PRO SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:
Heat 1: Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 10.83 def. Philippa Anderson (AUS) 9.77
Heat 2: Pauline Ado (FRA) 13.44 def. Alana Blanchard (HAW) 7.53
SATA AIRLINES AZORES PRO QUARTER-FINALS RESULTS:
Heat 1: Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 12.00 def. Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 10.67
Heat 2: Philippa Anderson (AUS) 9.67 def. Georgia Fish (AUS) 6.63
Heat 3: Pauline Ado (FRA) 15.23 def. Felicity Palmateer (AUS) 7.43
Heat 4: Alana Blanchard (HAW) 14.93 def. Rebecca Woods (AUS) 12.17
SATA AIRLINES AZORES PRO ROUND OF 12 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 11.80, Georgia Fish (AUS) 11.00, Anali Gomez (PER) 9.44
Heat 2: Philippa Anderson (AUS) 14.34, Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 10.47, Justine Dupont (FRA) 9.66
Heat 3: Pauline Ado (FRA) 12.23, Rebecca Woods (AUS) 8.53, Quincy Davis (USA) 8.10
Heat 4: Alana Blanchard (HAW) 11.90, Felicity Palmateer (AUS) 7.19, Suelen Naraisa (BRA) 6.33