Wildcards Cause Havoc For ASP World Title Race At Quiksilver Pro France

In incredible 2.5 to three metre (eight to 10 foot) waves at La Graviere, Hossegor, wildcards Jeremy Flores (REU) and Maz Quinn (NZ) caused a huge stir when they defeated Mick Fanning (AUS) and Trent Munro (AUS) respectively in the Quiksilver Pro France.

The early elimination of Fanning and Munro from the event has a huge bearing on the race for the 2005 Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour crown as it now can only be claimed by two surfers in Andy Irons (HAW) and Kelly Slater (USA), who will compete in round three. Slater can in fact sew up the title here if he claims victory as his lead will be unassailable.

With surfers getting some amazingly deep tube rides throughout the day the wildcards had the better luck in the shifting conditions as also having success against more fancied rivals were Dane Reynolds (USA) and injury replacement Guilherme Herdy (BRA).

In a dramatic finish to heat one of the day, 17-year-old Jeremy Flores waited until the very last second of the 30-minute encounter before taking off on a sizable right breaking wave that allowed him to stand inside the barrel for an unbelievable five seconds.

Emerging from underneath the wave curtain, Flores threw his hand in the air and was awarded an 8.4 and victory over Fanning, who prior to the event was rated number three and was a chance at claiming the tour crown.

Adding to hype surrounding his win was the test of his fitness as prior to catching the winning wave he had to swim to the shore to retrieve his board after breaking his legrope.

“That was one of the best heats of my life! said a beaming Flores. “Mick Fanning, along with Kelly Slater and Andy Irons, has always been one of my heroes so to beat him here today at La Graviere, where I spend most of my time, is just crazy! I broke my legrope and I was trying to stay very calm. After getting my board I was paddling back out and freesurfers outside of the area were yelling that some big set waves were approaching. I got the barrel and now… well I’m just very, very happy.

Flores claimed that he was inspired by the vocal crowd who were behind him all the way and also noted that he will use the support as motivation during the next round where he will face ratings front runner Slater.

“The crowd were pushing me so hard, he said. “I’m so happy that all these people were down here and supporting me. It’s such a bonus. It’s going to be hard to beat Kelly and I also would like to see him win the world title, so it’s going to be extra hard.

Kiwi surfer Quinn was also buzzing after he defeated number four ranked Munro. The likeable natural footer was once a competitor on the Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour but has been relegated to the second tier World Qualifying Series for the past few years. His win today showed that he can still mix it with the best.

“It was hard out there, said Quinn. “I couldn’t get any decent waves at the start. It was sort of a ‘fool’s gold’ heat where waves looked really good but weren’t. I’m really tired after that effort but I’m just so happy to get through to the next round.

Also causing headaches for his high-seeded rivals was young gun Reynolds (USA) who for the third event in a row has made it through to round three as a wildcard. Reynolds is a very exciting surfer who is known for his large aerial manoeuvres but today he showed that he has plenty of tube riding talent also as he defeated Fred Patacchia (HAW) who was ranked ninth prior to the event.

“The waves were super fun and more so because there was a little bit of fear involved. said Reynolds. “A lot of it was definitely down to luck out there though. I had a couple of good ones but I was lucky that Fred didn’t get another good one. I just hope that luck continues with me into the next round.

Reynolds will now compete against 2001 Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour champ CJ Hobgood in round three.

Also fending off the big names was Guilherme Herdy (BRA) who downed Tom Whitaker (AUS) in hheat five of round two. Herdy was invited as a wildcard when Bernado Pigmeu (BRA), Joel Parkinson (AUS) and Troy Brooks (AUS) withdrew due to injuries. In claiming his win he will now move through to take on Nathan Hedge (AUS) in round three.

“I was just so very happy, said Herdy with his thick Portuguese accent. “It is always so good to come here to surf against the best in the world and come away with a win. I really enjoyed it out there and I look forward to the next challenge.

Organisers stopped the event today after round two heat six due a wind change that affected the wave faces. They will convene again at 8am tomorrow and will look to continue with the remaining heats of the round as the swell predictions look extremely promising.