The Quiksilver Pro and Roxy Pro France, Stop No. 9 on the 2015 Samsung Galaxy World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), saw the world’s best surfers return to the rippable beachbreaks of Les Guardians and Culs Nus today as Round 2 of the women’s event and Round 3 of the men’s event delivered high drama and huge upsets for the capacity crowd in attendance.
Reigning WSL Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA), 21, who has turned his season around with a string of excellent results in J-Bay, Tahiti and Trestles, came firing out of the gates in his Round 3 match-up against veteran C.J Hobgood (USA). Medina tore apart the clean rights on his backhand and belted an impressive 18.70 heat total to advance.
“C.J. and I talked about the waves and trying to figure out which were the good ones, because we couldn’t see anything with the sun,” Medina said. “I don’t know if it’s the last time we’re competing against each other so I also told him it was an honor to surf against him. I’ve always had good matchups with C.J. I just wish we could have had some barrels today, that would have been fun!”
Bede Durbidge (AUS), 32, and compatriot Adrian Buchan (AUS) went blow for blow in their third round bout and put on an explosive show for the huge crowds gathered at Culs Nus. Durbidge collected two excellent scores above 9 points for his polished forehand attack on the long, running pointbreak-style rights.
“It was definitely different from my first heat in 6 foot plus barrels and I was riding a step-up round pin,” Durbidge said. “Today it’s only 3 foot but real rippable and I’m on my magic stick. Ace started off with a bang and I was down at the total opposite end of the beach, so it made me change strategy right away. The tide filled in and Ace was onto it, I had to play catch up but I bagged those two 9’s. He made me step my game instantly and it was good to push me, it was really fun when I got the waves.”
Fresh from a victory at the last Qualifying Series (QS) 10,000 event in Portugal, Kolohe Andino (USA), 21, continued his impressive campaign in Hossegor and bested 11-time WSL Champion Kelly Slater (USA) to advance into non-elimination Round 4 where he’ll matchup with Julian Wilson (AUS) and Jadson Andre (BRA). Andino took it to the air and launched into a massive slob air to net a heat-high 8.50.
“The wave was closing out and I just wanted to do something big. Before my heat I was thinking air-reverse would probably be a better option, but I’m glad they scored a big straight air,” Andino said. “I thought we couldn’t surf the righthander down the beach where Kelly went, but when I heard he got a good score there I had to move and join him.”
Local event wildcard Maxime Huscenot (FRA) had reigning three-time WSL Champion Mick Fanning (AUS), 34, against the ropes in their Round 3 match-up with seconds remaining on the clock before Fanning started on his final wave. The Australian went on to unleash his signature powerful carves for a buzzer-beater 9.03 and kept his hopes of a fifth event title in France alive.
“It was really stressful, Maxime got off to a quick start and kept building,” Fanning said. “I just felt like I couldn’t figure out the wave, and there was very little time left so I had to give it all on that last wave. Lucky enough it just held up really nice and was the best wave I had the whole heat. That’s what you train for – you can’t fold under pressure, you’ve got to be able to surf how you want to surf.”
Event favourite Jeremy Flores (FRA), 27, lived to fight another day, advancing through a tight battle with Tahitian powerhouse Michel Bourez (PYF) before the event went On Hold through the high tide. Flores stayed busy and scoured the lineup, surfing ten waves to find two average scores and keep his home campaign alive.
“It was very special to surf against my good friend Michel, there’s a lot of respect between us and I wanted to play it fair,” Flores said. “Michel needed that win but I’m certain he’ll get opportunities to shine by the end of the year. I’m having a good run this time, last year it was the contrary.”
Earlier in the day the world’s best female surfers took to the water to complete the remaining three heats of Round 2 with Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) and Sage Erickson (USA) all winning through to advance on to the next round.
Reigning six-time WSL Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), 27, returned to competition in France after sitting out the last five events on the CT due to a knee injury sustained earlier this season. Gilmore found a clean barrel and managed to edge out Malia Manuel (HAW) for her place in the third round.
“I don’t feel like I’m anywhere near 100%, I’m still trying to find my rhythm again,” Gilmore said. “But I had to be here anyway as I’m a Roxy ambassador and I thought if my knee is feeling good I should surf and enjoy it all. I’m getting more comfortable every surf and regaining that confidence and rhythm.”
In an all-Californian matchup, Sage Erickson (USA), 24, took out good friend and current World No. 4 Lakey Peterson (USA). Erickson, current leader of the QS, has already ensured her place amongst the WSL Top 17 next year and looked poised and comfortable in the clean peaks at Culs Nus.
Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow morning at 8am to assess conditions.
Surfline, official forecasters for the World Surf League (WSL), are calling for:
WNW swell mix with improved winds and conditions expected on Thursday and Friday. A smaller leftover mix lingers into Saturday before new Joaquin swell shows during the afternoon/evening. Joaquin swell for Sunday drops into early next week. Monitoring potential WNW swell for next Thursday/Friday.
The Quiksilver and Roxy Pro France is webcast LIVE on worldsurfleague.com and via the WSL app.
QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE ROUND 4 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: Julian Wilson (AUS), Jadson Andre (BRA), Kolohe Andino (USA)
Heat 2: Italo Ferreira (BRA), Bede Durbidge (AUS), Mick Fanning (AUS)
Heat 3: Adriano De Souza (BRA), John John Florence (HAW), Jeremy Flores (FRA)
Heat 4: Gabriel Medina (BRA), Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Owen Wright (AUS)
QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE ROUND 3 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Julian Wilson (AUS) 11.17 def. Brett Simpson (USA) 10.34
Heat 2: Jadson Andre (BRA) 13.17 def. Nat Young (USA) 12.97
Heat 3: Kolohe Andino (USA) 15.77 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 14.20
Heat 4: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 13.60 def. Keanu Asing (HAW) 13.10
Heat 5: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 18.37 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 17.40
Heat 6: Mick Fanning (AUS) 17.83 def. Maxime Huscenot (FRA) 16.04
Heat 7: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 14.17 def. Tomas Hermes (BRA) 12.73
Heat 8: John John Florence (HAW) 16.33 def. Kai Otton (AUS) 15.33
Heat 9: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 10.46 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 10.14
Heat 10: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 18.70 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 14.23
Heat 11: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 16.00 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 12.50
Heat 12: Owen Wright (AUS) 14.83 def. Dane Reynolds (USA) 10.97
ROXY PRO FRANCE ROUND 3 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: Johanne Defay (FRA), Tyler Wright (AUS), Sage Erickson (USA)
Heat 2: Courtney Conlogue (USA), Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Coco Ho (HAW)
Heat 3: Carissa Moore (HAW), Nikki Van Dijk (AUS), Alessa Quizon (HAW)
Heat 4: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW), Dimity Stoyle (AUS)
ROXY PRO FRANCE ROUND 2 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Johanne Defay (FRA) 18.17 def. Silvana Lima (BRA) 10.50
Heat 2: Alessa Quizon (HAW) 10.80 def. Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 10.20
Heat 3: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 13.23 def. Chelsea Tuach (BRB) 5.97
Heat 4: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 12.43 def. Pauline Ado (FRA) 4.60
Heat 5: Sage Erickson (USA) 13.23 def. Lakey Peterson (USA) 7.76
Heat 6: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 13.50 def. Malia Manuel (HAW) 13.40