Wednesday 28 September, 2005
QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE (23 September — 2 October)
EVENT #9 ON THE FOSTER’S ASSOCIATION OF SURFING PROFESSIONALS (ASP) MEN’S WORLD TOUR
Incredible Day Of Surfing At Quiksilver Pro France As Wildcards Give World Title Contenders A Scare
Wildcards in round three of the Quiksilver Pro France presented by Samsung seriously rattled the race for the 2005 Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour today by putting on incredible surfing displays in the three metre (10 foot) waves at La Nord, Hossegor.
With the elimination of Trent Munro (AUS) and Mick Fanning (AUS) earlier in the event, the race is down to just Kelly Slater (USA) and Andy Irons (HAW) and the scenario for the title race sees Slater in the box seat needing only to finish equal or one place better than Irons in this event to claim the title here in France. If Irons, however, finishes one place better than Slater in this event, his title hopes are still alive.
With that scenario in mind every heat they surf from now on will be a “nail biter and today was no exception. Both Slater and Irons did progress through today’s round but only after wildcards Jeremy Flores (REU) and Maz Quinn (NZ) had them and surf fans all over the world on the edge of their seats right to the end of the heats.
In Slater’s encounter with Flores, the youngster came out with all guns blazing early, showing no signs of being intimidated by the six-time world champion who opened the heat with a medium range score. Flores slotted into an amazing three metre (10 foot) left to right breaking tube ride on his backhand and emerged to a deafening roar from the crowd while scoring a 9.17 out of a possible 10.
Slater looked nervous as he unsuccessfully tried to catch waves that he normally would neglect. He then took off on a righthander that looked like it wouldn’t offer much at all. The wave however opened up and Slater pulled under the lip for a five second barrel and as he emerged he launched into an aerial.
He scored a 9.77 and then returned to lead for the remainder of the heat. But Flores, who only needed a medium range score to overtake kept threatening Slater by taking off on monstrous closeout waves often waving or signalling the crowd as he did so.
“I knew Jeremy was going to get at least one big one, said Slater. “I knew I was going to have to work out there. I was so nervous, when he took off on a big one at the end I thought he was going to do it (take the lead). But I don’t mind being in that scenario where he had his good ride early and I’m behind because at least that way I know what I have to do to win — it’s all there before me. But the pressure wasn’t so bad. I know I have three events where I can still claim the title. I’m hoping I can do it here but I’m expecting Andy to push right through.
With nothing short of a rock concert atmosphere the Irons/Quinn matchup had the crowd enthralled as Irons left it to the dying seconds to grab the score that would keep him in the event and in the title race.
Quinn, like Flores charged into some massive waves early and performed some mind-blowing escapes from the lips of the heavy waves.
Knowing that every heat he surfs could either keep his hopes alive or instantly hand the title to Slater, Irons was obviously jittery as he attempted to reel in Quinn’s lead. Needing only a small score to overtake Quinn, Irons scraped into a small wave in the dying seconds of the heat and scored just enough to give him the win.
“That was so heavy, said Irons. “I was stressing out. The whole heat I was just paddling around. It was more of a paddling race than a wave riding contest. I had to keep calling the jet ski to drag me back into position as the current was running like a river. That was the closest heat I’ve had all year and I’m glad I’ve got it over wiith. I just have to take it heat by heat all the way to the end now. There’s a lot of pressure but I’m just going to try to have fun.
In heat one of the round, another wildcard in Dane Reynolds (USA) caused an upset when in the dying seconds of his battle with CJ Hobgood (USA) he managed to lock into a long tube ride to snatch victory from underneath the 2001 Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour champion’s nose.
Reynolds has been responsible for taking out numerous big names as a wildcard and competitors are always wary when surfing against him.
“I couldn’t believe it. Things like that never happen to me, said Reynolds. “I saw a lump coming with 30 seconds to go and I thought there was no way I was going to get it. But when I took off it was the most perfect wave ever! I was excited. It’s really heavy out there though, there’s so much water moving around but I’m looking forward to that next heat.
Other results saw Brazilians Victor Ribas and Paulo Moura take away wins with Moura really turning on against Mick Lowe (AUS). Executing some solid turns, he had plenty of crowd support as he took his victory.
“I’m just really happy, said Moura. “To beat anyone in this event is just great. I’m now just looking forward to the next heat and hope I can go all the way.
Organizers of the Quiksilver Pro France called off the event after heat nine between Irons and Quinn. They will meet again at 8.30am local time tomorrow (Friday) to assess conditions. The forecast at this stage looks promising although we may see a slight decrease in swell overnight.
Round three results:
Heat 1: Dane Reynolds (USA) 12.83 def CJ Hobgood (USA) 11.50
Heat 2: Victor Ribas (BRA) 12.50 def Danny Wills (AUS) 6.60
Heat 3: Luke Egan (AUS) 15.67 def Kalani Robb (HAW) 8.90
Heat 4: Phil MacDonald (AUS) 11.10 def Patrick Bevan (FRA) 8.04
Heat 5: Damien Hobgood (USA) 16.10 def Tim Curran (USA) 4.67
Heat 6: Luke Stedman (AUS) 11.83 def Dean Morrison (AUS) 11.57
Heat 7: Paulo Moura (BRA) 13.66 def Mick Lowe (AUS) 4.67
Heat 8: Kelly Slater (USA) 15.34 def Jeremy Flores (REU) 12.84
Heat 9: Andy Irons (HAW) 11.76 def Maz Quinn (NZ) 11.33
Remaining round three heats
Heat 10: Mark Occhilupo (AUS) vs Lee Winkler (AUS)
Heat 11: Cory Lopez (USA) vs Shea Lopez (USA)
Heat 12: Bruce Irons (HAW) vs Raoni Monteiro (BRA)
Heat 13: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs Mikael Picon (FRA)
Heat 14: Peterson Rosa (BRA) vs Chris Ward (USA)
Heat 15: Nathan Hedge (AUS) vs Guilherme Herdy (BRA)
Heat 16: Jake Paterson (AUS) vs Tim Reyes (USA)