Andy Wins Again At The Quiksilver Pro France

October 11, 2003 (Hossegor, France) Reigning world champ Andy Irons (Kauai,Haw) today won the Quiksilver Pro France over Phil MacDonald (Aus) andextended his domination of this year’s ratings. The US$250,000 WorldChampionship Tournament (WCT) commenced with the first two quarterfinalsthis morning, before competition went on hold during the midday lower tide.When conditions again turned on, remaining quarterfinals, the semifinals andthen the grand finale climaxed in front of thousands of spectators. TwoEvian Expression Sessions were also held.

Perfect 6ft (2m) surf was on offer, with bigger sets breaking further outthe back. Hollow barrels and some of Europe’s best waves of the past fewmonths graced the sandbank at La Graviere on a glorious French day.

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Irons claimed his fourth WCT title of the year in stellar form. The Kauaianbuilt momentum throughout the Quiksilver Pro France (where he finishedrunner-up in 2002), gaining plenty of confidence as he emerged though theearlier ‘wildcard’ rounds and approached the business end of the draw.

Once in the main decider, the 25-year-old stamped his authority from theoutset, creating a daunting advantage within the first six-minutes. Heopened with an 8-point tube ride, and then posted a near-perfect 9.63 scorefollowing another amazing barrel and forehand slash. He later earned an 8.43to better his standing with a long backhand tube and searing cutback,sealing victory in style. Despite breaking his board within the final7-minutes, it made little difference as he collected another US$30,000 andis now more than 700-points ahead of his nearest ratings rival.

“This is incredible and I’m on top of the world,” began Irons, surroundingby media. Just to be in a final and win in conditions like that is anamazing feeling. This is what I love to do and when the waves are likethat… I’m just so happy. I had two bad contests in a row and started tofeel like I was losing my form, so to get it back in France – it’s such acrucial part of the year – feels amazing.

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“All I really wanted to do when the year began was be able to defend mytitle well and stay in the race,” he continued. “I’m just having such a goodyear, so hopefully it goes through to Hawaii where the title will becrowned. I’ve got a 700-point lead now going into Mundaka (next WCT startingtomorrow), and there and Brazil will be crucial. I’ve just got to do as wellas the guys near me (on the ratings) each event so the lead doesn’t change.

“I’m really happy for Phil right now too,” he added. “He’s a great surfer agood friend of mine, and it’s a great result for him. After he beat Kelly Iwould have been happy with a second, but of course I wanted to win.”

MacDonald was a dark horse throughout the 40-minute clash, despite being inhis first WCT final. The 24-year-old played the patience game he perfectedin the semifinals against six-time world champ Kelly Slater (FL, USA), andit almost paid off again. He trailed by a huge combination of scores for thefirst half, but then locked in an 8.4 to be within a possible one-waverecovery. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to find the 9.66 needed, and had tosettle with runner-up position and US$16,000.

“Yeah, I’m stoked,” said MacDonald. “The waves were good, but after Andy’sfirst couple of rides I was playing catch-up the whole time. I just didn’tget the waves, but it’s an unreal result. Congratulations to Andy. He’s atrue champion.

“A second is a good confidence booster,” he continued. “I beat a couple ofpretty good guys along the way, so I was stoked to be in the final. It wouldhave been good to take it, but there’s always next week.”

Equal third were West Australian Taj Burrow and Slater. Burrow retained histhird position on the current ratings with his second semifinal berth of theseason, and remains within striking distance for this year’s world title.Against Irons he led at the start, but ultimately required an 8.57 at theend flowing Irons’ best 9.33 ride.

“It was pretty tough,” reasoned Burrow. “I think I was maybe trying toohard, and there was a couple I didn’t come out of which would havedefinitely helped. I just couldn’t find a really good one, even though it’sone of the best days ever here.

“Semis is an amazing result and I’m stoked, but with the other two guysplacing the same, and better than of me, it kind of takes away from it,” headded. “The ratings are going to be pretty tight. I can’t wait for Mundakanow, as I’ve heard the banks are really good. Hope we get enough swell torun out there everyday.”

Slater appeared destined for a final’s showdown against Irons, but waseventually stopped by MacDonald, who clawed back from oblivion with an epic9.33 tube ride. The Floridian had a commanding lead after two eight plusrides, but after allowing his opponent to catch a righthander while he heldpriority, the Australian secured the 7.63 score he required. Nonetheless,Slater still posted the best scores of the Quiksilver Pro France and remainsIron’s main nemesis as the world title race continues.

“From my perspective it didn’t look like it was going to be one of thebetter waves out there,” said Slater, of MacDonald’s turning ride. “Ifigured there was about five minutes left, and if I took that I’d losepriority and for sure a better wave would come in. I thought I’d get anothergood wave, but it didn’t happen for me.

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“The points are a little deceptive, as I’m counting a 33rd place and he’sgot a 17th, so I’m probably 150-points closer than it looks on paper,” heexplained of the race with Irons. “He’s got four wins this year and I havetwo. If I had won I would have closed the gap by some 500-points, so it’s ahuge loss for me, really. This was a magical contest, having the scores Ihad, but it’s still disappointing to lose. I guess I underestimated Phil alittle bit, as I wasn’t expecting him to get that 9.33. I just broke myfavorite board after the semi too, so I’m a little bummed right now.”

Finishing equal fifth today in the Quiksilver Pro France were Danny Wills(Byron Bay, Aus) Taylor Knox (CA, USA), Trent Munro (Scott’s Head, Aus) andShea Lopez (FL, USA). The Floridian, especially, was unlucky not to progressfurther. He opened his quarterfinal against Slater with an amazing backhandbarrel for a near-perfect 9.8, but even this wasn’t enough to stop prosurfing’s wunderkind.

The Evian Expression Session took place after the final, with a handful ofthe world’s best making the most of epic conditions. Cory Lopez (FL, USA)secured the main prize of US$5,000 for a huge aerial, while Brazilian NecoPadaratz emerged from the best tube for US$3,000. The most radical maneuverwas awarded to Joel Parkinson (Gold Coast, Aus) for his critical forehandsnap.

“That was so enjoyable to be out there putting on a show for everyone,” saidPadaratz afterward. “There was no pressure and everyone was excited for eachother. People on the beach loved it and we all wanted to do the best wecould.”

An Evian Girls Expression Session also took place with 10 of the world’sbest women earlier in the day. Four-time world champ and Roxy Pro Franceco-contest director Lisa Andersen (FL, USA) took out the main prize ofUS$1,500 with a great forehand bash, and Rochelle Ballard (Haw) finishedrunner-up and Roxy Pro France winner Chelsea Georgeson (Aus) came in third.

“It was cool to be out there having fun,” said Andersen. “I got that onewave and just belted it (laughs). It was a long 10-days during the event, soit was good to go surfing and hoot everybody into waves.”

The world’s best male surfers will now head a couple of hours further south,across the Spanish border and into the Basque country for the Billabong Proat Mundaka. Competition is expected to commence tomorrow morning with roundone.

Quiksilver Pro Final
1st Andy Irons (Haw) 18.06 – US$30,000
2nd Phil MacDonald (Aus) 13.73 – US$16,000

Semifinals (1st>Final; 2nd=3rd receives US$10,000)
SF1: Andy Irons (Haw) 16.06 def. Taj Burrow (Aus) 14.83
SF2: Phillip MacDonald (Aus) 16.96 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 16.83

Quarterfinals (1st>Semifinals; 2nd=5th receives US$8,000)
QF1: Taj Burrow (Aus) 13.5 def. Daniel Wills (Aus) 13.03
QF2: Andy Irons (Haw) 14.16 def. Taylor Knox (USA) 6.84
QF3: Phillip MacDonald (Aus) 15.17 def. Trent Munro (Aus) 7.83
QF4: Kelly Slater (USA) 18.1 def. Shea Lopez (USA) 15.63
Current Top 10 Ratings After Quiksilver Pro France, WCT #8/12
1. Andy Irons (Haw) 6,960
2. Kelly Slater (USA) 6,228
3. Taj Burrow (Aus) 5,988
4. Mick Fanning (Aus) 5,652
5. Joel Parkinson (Aus) 5,568
6. Kieren Perrow (Aus) 5,304
7. Taylor Knox (USA) 4,932
8. Dean Morrison (Aus) 4,740
9. CJ Hobgood (USA) 4,716
=10. Mick Lowe (Aus); Shea Lopez (USA) 4,656
(1st>Final; 2nd=3rd receives US$10,000)
SF1: Andy Irons (Haw) 16.06 def. Taj Burrow (Aus) 14.83
SF2: Phillip MacDonald (Aus) 16.96 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 16.83

Quarterfinals (1st>Semifinals; 2nd=5th receives US$8,000)
QF1: Taj Burrow (Aus) 13.5 def. Daniel Wills (Aus) 13.03
QF2: Andy Irons (Haw) 14.16 def. Taylor Knox (USA) 6.84
QF3: Phillip MacDonald (Aus) 15.17 def. Trent Munro (Aus) 7.83
QF4: Kelly Slater (USA) 18.1 def. Shea Lopez (USA) 15.63
Current Top 10 Ratings After Quiksilver Pro France, WCT #8/12
1. Andy Irons (Haw) 6,960
2. Kelly Slater (USA) 6,228
3. Taj Burrow (Aus) 5,988
4. Mick Fanning (Aus) 5,652
5. Joel Parkinson (Aus) 5,568
6. Kieren Perrow (Aus) 5,304
7. Taylor Knox (USA) 4,932
8. Dean Morrison (Aus) 4,740
9. CJ Hobgood (USA) 4,716
=10. Mick Lowe (Aus); Shea Lopez (USA) 4,656