The Quiksilver Pro France resumed this morning in clean 3-4Ft surf at the primary venue of La Graviere in Hossegor. A quick deterioration of the conditions forced event organizers to call competition OFF after the completion of the fifth round which determined the eight quarter-finalists still in contention for the French crown.
Event No.8 of 10 on the ASP World Championship Tour, the Quiksilver Pro France marks an important turn towards the very end of the 2013 season and will play a vital role in the World Title race and requalification campaigns of the Top34.
Gabriel Medina (BRA) 19, former winner of the Quiksilver Pro France in 2011, picked the best waves of the day and navigated through tricky and fast barrels to rack up an impressive 17.43 out of 20 and advance straight into the quarters.
“I hope I can get another win here, it’s all I’m looking for,” Medina stated. “That was a fun heat against Julian and Jordy, I got that one wave that was so good and I almost fell so I’m stoked I made it.”
Breaking a board on his second attempt at taming the Hossegor shorebreaks, Medina switched equipment and seemed to have his quiver dialed as the second board would allow him to net a near-perfect 9.93 out of 10 later in the heat.
“I broke my board right at the beginning and changed for this one which works really good,” Medina continued. “This is a Pukas 5’9, I usually surf a 5’11 but this one is a little shorter but thicker, it’s definitely different but I love it.”
John John Florence (HAW) 20, current World No.15 coming into the Quiksilver Pro France, started on a fast hollow righthander in the opening seconds of his Round 4 matchup against Mick Fanning (AUS) and Michel Bourez (PYF) 27. The talented Hawaiian exited the barrel beautifully to score an excellent 8.00 point ride which eventually won him a ticket for the quarter-finals.
“There’s no pressure for a title or anything, so I’m just trying to make a couple heats and have fun,” Florence said. “I really want to win another event, I haven’t won one since Rio so that’d be pretty sick to win another one at some point.. I’m riding a 6’0, this is the board I rode for the whole Bali event and I kind of forgot about it but I saw it when I went home and I’m surfing it here it goes really good.”
Kelly Slater (USA) 41, defending event champion here in France, won the lowest-scoring non-elimination round 4 heat this morning with only a couple of average scores on the board. Despite the deception of not being able to display what the 11-time World Champion is capable of, this quarter-final berth for Slater is a crucial result towards ameliorating his season tally in the 2013 title race.
“The waves were not really good, it’s a bummer but there’s not much we can do about it, with the tide’s pretty low it’s just closing out,” Slater explained. “The direction the wave comes in just won’t allow them to peak up anywhere, so it’s just a flip of a coin and hoping that something happens out there for you.”
Mick Fanning (AUS) 32, earned his quarter-final spot the hard way, coming out on top of a tight low scoring heat in the fifth round. Surfing at a difficult moment of the tide, Fanning engaged in two barreling rides and managed to escape just before the closing-out sections posting the required scores to advance.
“When I knew I was going to have Taj, you know he’s been in form for the last couple of events and he’s been ripping, I knew it was going to be a really big heat, but the waves didn’t really come to play,” Fanning said. “I just snuck a couple of head dips and he didn’t have much, it was really difficult out there.”
Current leader of the ASP World Championship Tour rankings, Fanning knows the importance of his win over fellow Australian Taj Burrow (AUS) 35, who is however mathematically still in contention for a maiden World Title.
“I woke up today and sort of thought, if you win that first heat it could potentially knock somebody out of the race, but you know you just have to take it heat by heat,” Fanning continued. “I’m just stoked to get through another tight one, I’ve had so many of those this year, I’m just trying to play cool under pressure.”
The biggest upset came from Filipe Toledo (BRA) 18, who eliminated current World No.3 Jordy Smith (ZAF) 25, in their fifth round encounter. One of the form surfers of the event so far, Toledo continued his dominant streak in the air to dominate the heat and hinder Smith’s situation in the World Title race.
Event officials will reconvene tomorrow morning for a probable final call of the Quiksilver Pro France. When competition resumes, up first will be Kai Otton (AUS) against reigning World Champion Joel Parkinson (AUS).