BIARRITZ, France (Thursday, July 5, 2007) – With less than a week remaining to the start of the Roxy ASP Women's World Longboard Championship (WWLC), the best women longboarders are beginning to converge on the beautiful French town of Biarritz.
Commencing next Wednesday July 11, 2007, 48 surfers will compete for the ultimate prize in women's longboarding – the ASP Women's World Longboard Title. The international field sees surfers from as far a field as Japan, Tahiti, USA, Australia, Brazil and Hawaii battling it out with local European hopes from Spain, Great Britain and, of course, France.
Local hopes will be resting on Biarritz surfer and four-time European longboard champion Claire Karabatsos (FRA). In last year's event Karabatsos had a remarkable run, advancing through to the semifinals where she was defeated by the eventual winner Schuyler McFerran (USA). This year Karabatsos aims to use last year's experience to go one step better.
"Last year I was just happy to see so many girls riding so many waves so well with different styles," Karabatsos said. "I got a lot of inspiration from the amazing level of surfing. Hopefully it will be even better this year and I will have even more success."
Biarritz born and bred, Karabatsos was also quick to point out the natural beauty and great waves that can be expected at the Roxy event.
"It is such a great place to hold the world championships," Karabatsos said. "The beautiful scenery, the blue ocean, the green countryside, the incredible waves, the mountains, France, Spain… I hope it will always stay here and I hope people agree with me!"
One person who will definitely not be arguing is defending ASP Women's World Longboard Champion McFerran. At last year's event the 19-year-old was a surprise winner, using a mix of incredible nose riding and smooth radical turns to defeat some of her more experienced competitors. It's no wonder then that she is looking forward to next week.
"I can't wait for the Roxy WWLC to start," McFerran said just before leaving for France from her Californian home. "Last year I had such a good time! The whole event that Roxy put on is so much fun. It's very well run and they make us feel special with all of the little extras that they put on. The Jacuzzi on the beach, the big screen with the live video, the catering, the art show... it was all amazing. And on top of all of that, the waves are fun and you get to eat amazing gelato everyday. I've never been to a contest like it."
Obviously though, it's not all about the hot tubs and ice cream and McFerran will be under more pressure as the defending champion, especially from some of the competition favorites like last year's finalist Jenni Smith (USA), veteran stylist Belen Connelly (HAW), perennial contender Kassia Meador (USA) and Basque hopeful Estitxu Estremo (SPN).
Although aware of her status as both defending and world champion, McFerran, showing experience beyond her years, is not about to let the added expectation affect her surfing.
"I do feel a certain amount of pressure to perform, but it's mostly from myself," McFerran said. "I'm just going to keep my head on straight and give it my best and not let it get to me. All the girls are surfing so well that you can't discount anyone. In every heat you have to give it your best."
In addition to the World Title, this year's event will be run in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of surfing's first appearance in Europe – which first occurred at Côte des Basques the site that now proudly plays host to the Roxy Jam Biarritz every year.
The Roxy ASP WWLC will incorporate a number of free public events, including concerts, art exhibitions, initiatives and workshops as way of celebrating the strong surfing culture in this part of the world.
The weeklong event runs from July 11-18 and promises to be an amazing surfing festival, showcasing the best women longboard surfers from all corners of the globe and the beautiful waves and coastline of Biarritz as well.