QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE (23 September — 2 October)
EVENT #9 ON THE FOSTER’S ASSOCIATION OF SURFING PROFESSIONALS (ASP) MEN’S WORLD TOUR
As incredible two metre (six foot) waves pumped at La Graviere, Hossegor, surfing fans had their thirst for quality wave riding well and truly quenched today as competitors in the Quiksilver Pro France presented by Samsung were barrelled time and time again.
The Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour has so far this year scored some incredible waves which has directly lead to the level of competition being raised at each event. And that run of luck looks set to continue as the forecast indicates quality, even larger, conditions for the remainder of the week.
Leading the charge today was tour veteran Luke Egan (AUS) who in the first heat of the day against youngster Kirk Flintoff (AUS) managed to score a 9.33 out of 10 for a tube ride on a wave that resembled those seen in Hawaii.
Pulling straight into the tube from takeoff, Egan stood upright as he raced behind a curtain of water only to emerge four seconds later with the wave “spitting behind him. Egan was overawed by the fantastic experience.
“It was pretty hard to stay in position out there, said Egan. “In fact I missed a few that were just as good as the one I rode. But all I did was get to my feet and the wave did the rest of the work. It was nice to start off the day with a wave like that!
The moment was made even more special as after 21 years of competing on the tour, Egan has announced that he will hang up his singlet at the end of this year and will take a marketing position within the surf industry.
Egan has finished consistently at the top end of the ratings throughout his career, with the highlight being his number two placing in 2000. Commentators have even stated that he is perhaps the greatest surfer never to have won a world title.
“I’m retiring from competition after the last event this year at Pipeline. I’m going to work with my sponsor Billabong in the marketing department, said Egan. “When the job opportunity came up, I just thought it was the right time to do something else. I’ll be based in Australia but will get to go to Teahupoo and a few other stops on the tour. At the beginning of this year I’d made up my mind that I would start looking around and well… it all just fell into place. I’m still fit and am still really enjoying my surfing but it’s time to go and freesurf with my friends.
With Egan’s announcement comes the news that numerous others will step down from the Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour at the end of this year. Retirees will include Mark Occhilupo (AUS), Sunny Garcia (HAW), Shane Beschen (USA), Renan Rocha (BRA) and maybe Peterson Rosa (BRA), who posted the highest score of the round in today’s event.
Living up to his nickname of “The Animal, pint-sized Rosa surfs with a no-fear approach and today he attacked the solid waves with gusto pulling into and emerging from some extremely heavy barrels to defeat Beschen.
“I’ve watched so many good waves over the last few days, said Rosa. “I was just going out to find the good barrels. I sat patiently and waited and I saw Shane getting some big scores. The set came and I got my ride and got a big score. These waves suit my style of surfing.
Rosa, who has been competing on the tour for 15 years, spoke of his impending retirement also.
“I’ve been on the tour for so long, he said. “I’m looking forward to having a rest and staying at home with my family without having to worry about ratings. If I do well this year I will do next year and then I will retire.
Occhilupo, despite being the oldest on tour, surfed with grommet-like enthusiasm to pull out a win over Greg Emslie (ZAF). Emslie looked to have the wwood on “Occy after grabbing a tube ride, where he was covered by water for about five seconds. But by maintaining his composure Occy caught a couple of quality waves that enabled him to get the scores to progress through.
“I was a bit worried out there, because he beat me at the last event at Trestles, said Occhilupo. “We actually both took off on the same wave in different directions and I got heavily hit in the head. The crowd started screaming and I thought they were doing it because I got bashed by the wave, but instead it was Greg getting that great tube! I got a couple of backhand barrels and I think it was only due to all my training on my backhand at home on Australia’s Gold Coast. I’m just stoked.
In other round two heats today, American Tim Curran defeated Australian Richie Lovett and Hawaiian Kalani Robb was far too strong for South African Travis Logie, who surfed despite a serious ankle injury.
At the completion of round two, conditions had deteriorated somewhat and it was decided to hold off round three of the Quiksilver Pro. Instead the capacity crowd was treated to The Kelly Slater Experiment presented by the Mitchell Surfing Foundation.
The Experiment is, as the name suggests, a test of new competition formats devised by Slater. The formats have been designed with the spectator in mind and look to increase the action in the water therefore appeal to a broader audience.
Today’s format involved “overlapping heats. While one 30-minute heat is in progress with “priority another paddles out to surf with 15 minutes remaining so as the heats overlap and with four surfers constantly in the water, there are no dull moments.
“There was some great surfing out there, said Slater after the Experiment. “And I’d like to thank the guys for going out. The idea was to maximise time and the waves ridden so there is more action for the spectators. There was a lot of positive feedback and I’d also like to thank Greville Mitchell from the Mitchell Surfing Foundation for putting it on.
Taking out the event was Dean Morrison (AUS) who defeated Mikael Picon (FRA), Phil MacDonald (AUS) and Cory Lopez (USA).
“It was good day! said Morrison “It’s a great format and I really enjoyed surfing in it.
Morrison took home $US2000 for his troubles while Picon scored $US1500, MacDonald $US1000 and Lopez $US500
With round two of the main event completed the event can potentially be completed in two days and with the waiting period continuing to 2 October organizers will wait for premium swell, wind and tide conditions before forging ahead with round three.