••    Vendee Pro    ••

With surfing events cancelled due to the deepening black hole of the economic situation, the Protest Vendee Pro is the kick off of the European WQS season in the year 2012. Its the most northern wqs event on the European mainland. The location is a typical, yet different french country side town, Bretignolles sur Mer. A town that you wouldn't expect to know anything about surfing at all, but when the contest hits town there are an amazing amount of visitors and dedicated surf fans.

During the last 2 editions of the event there was sunshine, warm temperatures, no wind and clean, fun waves. This year, the contrast could not be bigger. There was gale force wind, rain, soupy brown waters and chilly temperatures. Ideally, the wave at La Sauzaie is a nicely, shaped up a-frame. This year it was all over the place.

The heat I surfed in the 1/8 final is worth mentioning in my opinion. I was totally lost in the heat, I didn't know where to look for a rideable wave. I caught a close out and when I paddled back I bumped into a peak. I took it, went left and could fit one good turn and a little finish in. I was scored a 6.something, but my back up wave was still a 1.2 or something like that. I jumped up to first with only 5 minutes remaining. I soon got into 3rd, I didn't have a back up score. I needed a 1.6 to advance.

With only 90 seconds remaining I took a left that closed out immediately and got a 1.2.. with only 30 seconds I paddled back out, it was going to be impossible in 90 seconds. In the conditions on offer it definitely took a few minutes.. I heard the speaker saying 10, 9, 8,.. I saw a little reform coming up in front of the rocks and I took off while he said..2, 1 tuuuuuuu.. the wave still counted, I made a lousy 2 stage cutback and a little turn for a 2.8 or something and so I made the heat.. hooray!

Fellow low lander, Lars Musschoot, also made it to the 1/8 final. He surfed some solid heats in hard conditions, but unfortunately couldn't find any waves in his 1/8 final heat.

In the 1/4 final I was slightly late when paddling out. I missed the first set that offered a few nice inside lefts. The others dropped some scores and I waited for a wave with potential… that, to make a long story relatively short, never came. And so lost the heat. I focused too much on the rights. Later I saw the only waves that did come through were lefts. While talking through the heat with good friend Marlon Lipke, I noticed that I tend to focus more on rights in heats.. I don't know why.. I think I might feel safer, but I feel good on lefts too. I also realized if I want to make more heats I have to prepare better and be also be ready to surf heats and take waves - just to get the scores. I will find my way eventually.

Marlon went on to win the contest, which was really good to see. We were all rooting, having a good time and drinking beers during the day and red wine in the evening. Vive le Vendee, a la prochaine!