ANGLET, Les Cavaliers, France — The Oxbow World Longboard Tour, stop No. 1 of 2 on the 2008 Association of Surfing Professionals WLT, was blessed with clean 2- to 3-foot waves yesterday at the famed break of Les Cavaliers in Anglet. It was a day of big clashes with six former ASP world longboard champions getting their start in the event.
Josh Constable, 27, ASP world longboard champion in 2006, created the upset of the day when he bested reigning ASP world champion Phil Rajzman in Heat 8 of Round 1. Constable, who posted a two-wave combined heat score of 14.75 points (out of possible 20), brought a solid repertoire of nose riding maneuvers and radical cut backs to advance to Round 3.
“I did not really think about that heat and surfing against Phil (Rajzman),” Constable said. “Phil spent some time in Australia this winter and we surfed together a few times in some events so I was pretty relaxed. There are so many good surfers here anyone is a threat so I was not feeling any pressure.”
Constable, who recently won the ASP Longboard Qualifying Series event in Australia, put on a show against the defending World champion and avoids Round 2, the sudden-death round, with this win.
“It is good to get this win to start in the event,” Constable said. “The waves were tough out there with the peak moving a lot with the tides but it ended up well for me. I am stoked to be back here in France and see Oxbow stepping up again this year with a second WLT event later this year,” Constable said.
Phil Rajzman, 25, placed second of his opening heat in the Oxbow WLT and will have to surf Round 2 when competition resumes. Rajzman, who won the event in 2007 to seize his maiden ASP World title, posted an average 11.75 point heat total.
“It was a slow heat and there is no drama with this second place,” Rajzman said. “I am feeling really fit right now, I have been training hard this year in Australia and came here a week before the event started to get used to the beachbreak.”
Rajzman had to get through Round 2 last year on his way to the crown and feels comfortable with his upcoming match-up.
“I made it through Round 2 last year and ended up winning the crown,” Rajzman said. “I think it can be very positive to surf more heats to understand the wave better and build up better tactics so I am relaxed.”
Colin McPhillips, another former ASP world longboard champion (1999, 2001, 2002), was one of today’s top scorers and finished his Round 1 clash ahead of Sam Bleakley and Anri Nabeshima thanks to a solid 15.25 point result (out of possible 20).
“It is good to get through this one as you are always a bit shaky before the first paddle out,” McPhillips said. “I am stoked to be back here in France, it is always a lot of fun to surf in contests and I got a couple of good ones to start.”
McPhillips, 33, is a veteran among the world’s best longboarders but remains a favorite for the Oxbow WLT crown.
“There are a few young guys coming up and it is really good for the sport,” McPhillips said. “We already know we will have a second event this year and if it is confirmed in California where I live, it will be even more comfortable for me. As long as the new guys don’t knock us out, we are right up there.”
Bonga Perkins, Romain Maurin and Kai Sallas were among today’s other heat winners, leaving favorites like Duane De Soto and last year’s runner-up Danilo Rodrigo to surf in Round 2.