The Quiksilver and Roxy Pro France, Stop No. 9 on the Samsung Galaxy World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), resumed in excellent four-to-six foot (1.2 – 2 metre) surf at Culs Nus. The Quiksilver Pro ran through the all-decisive Round 3 as well as the three-man non-elimination Round 4 to decide the event’s first four Quarterfinalists. The women also powered through Round 3 to determine the first four Quarterfinalists of the Roxy Pro.
The World Title race kept everyone on their toes as John John Florence (Haw) and Gabriel Medina (BRA) managed to stay alive in France while their direct competition Matt Wilkinson (AUS) joined the long list of top seeds failing to maintain a good rhythm in Hossegor.
A thrilling battle played out between World No. 1 Florence and Filipe Toledo (BRA) in their Round 4 matchup as the two aerialists kept pushing each other towards bigger maneuvers, lighting up the crowds every time they paddled for a wave. Both Florence and Toledo started with an excellent barrel ride each, then went to the air to send massive punts, Toledo leading the show with a Perfect 10 point ride for the win.
“I did not even know that I was needing a huge score, I just heard that John [Florence] had a 9.40 and I had an 8.50,” Toledo explained. “In a heat against John and Stuart [Kennedy] you have to go big because they have been ripping in the whole event. Round 4 is a good round to try some big airs and crazy stuff. That left came perfectly to me and it was amazing to beat John and go straight to the Quarters.”
Florence will have another chance when competition resumes, facing Adriano de Souza (BRA) in Round 5. Previous to that incredible show, Florence had already had a close call in Round 3 against rookie Ryan Callinan (AUS). In a similar scenario, Florence and Callinan did battle in the air with a slight edge this time for the Hawaiian.
“That was a super fun heat and I’m so stoked to have a heat with Ryan [Callinan],” Florence said. “He really pushes me and makes me want to do airs too. That was an interesting one and a real battle. The battles feel really good when you finish it, win or lose. It feels good to wear the Jeep Leader Jersey. I’ve surfed a few heats and I’m getting back into my rhythm.”
Gabriel Medina (BRA) barely escaped a treacherous matchup with giant killer Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) in Round 3. Medina had a strong start, but it was a patient Fioravanti who found an absolute gem in the lineup to navigate a great barrel and punctuate the ride with a snap for an 8.57, the heat’s biggest score. Ultimately Medina stayed in pole position for a mere 0.44 to defeat the wildcard. The 2014 WSL Champion, fighting for his second Title this season, went on to dominate his following matchup to advance directly into the Quarterfinals and apply pressure on Florence.
“Of course you get fired up when someone’s surfing really good, I’m stoked to get to the quarters,” Medina said. “France is special to me, every time I go to the water I feel good and confident. I tend to get nervous before every heat, but when I’m out there everything goes my way. I love the support here. Everyone comes down the beach to support us and it gives you more energy. You want to show them some good surfing.”
Kai Otton (AUS) played the spoiler twice today, eliminating current No. 3 on the Jeep Leaderboard Matt Wilkinson (AUS) in Round 3 before sending Julian Wilson (AUS) and Sebastian Zietz (HAW) to Round 4 as the Australian veteran built confidence and momentum to reach the Quarterfinals for the first time this season.
“I did not really care about Wilko [Matt Wilkinson] at all in that heat to be honest,” Otton admitted. “I was just all about me. I need to make some heats if I want to stay on Tour. I just want to win. I do not want to go out losing in the third round all year and that was a really crucial heat for me. I am rooting for Wilko to win the Title, but I have to win my heats when they come.”
At the top of the Jeep Leaderboard for the first half of 2016, Wilkinson’s early efforts are going to waste with a string of bad results in the last four events, unable to produce his best surfing and select the right opportunities past the third round.
“The plan was to sit on the back of that little rip,” Wilkinson analyzed. “At the start I moved down. When Kai [Otton] had priority, I moved off of that and I nearly got to a couple wide ones that ran off, but they did not end up turning out. Kai got the best wave of that heat. I probably should have stuck to the plan a little bit. I felt like my surfing was great but I just could not get a wave in that heat.”
Adriano De Souza (BRA) confirmed his new found form following two mediocre results in Tahiti and California as the reigning WSL Champion overcame rookie Conner Coffin (USA) to advance into Round 4. De Souza who was unable to capitalize on the following round will have a chance to redeem himself when he faces Florence in Round 5.
“For me it’s been such a tough year,” said De Souza. “I’ve had a lot going on this year outside of surfing which has taken me out of the water. All the champions have the same challenges and I’ve never been a champion before so I didn’t really know how to deal with it. I have to keep going even though I’m out of the World Title race this year. I’m cheering for Gabriel Medina, the whole country is cheering for him.”
Today’s competition also saw Keanu Asing (HAW) put on a good show in the opening men’s heat of the day and surfed his way to a 14.50 total to eliminate Adrian Buchan (AUS) from competition. Asing unleashed his powerful surfing to move past Round 3 for only the second time in 2016.
The Roxy Pro France, Stop No. 9 of the Women’s Samsung Galaxy World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), resumed as well and continued to deliver exciting action as the world’s best surfers enjoyed rippable peaks in their non-elimination Round 3 encounters.
Tyler Wright (AUS), the current World No.1 wearing the Jeep Leader Jersey, continued her path towards a maiden World Title by advancing into the Quarterfinals of the Roxy Pro France. The Australian stayed busy in the lineup and surfed numerous waves to lock in two good scores and dispatch compatriot Laura Enever (AUS) and Sage Erickson (USA).
“I was happy with how that heat went, I had a plan and just had to stick to it, it’s a rip bowl on my backhand which is kind of new territory for me,” Wright stated. “Working with Micro [Glenn Hall] this year we’re like a team, you have Wilko [Matt Wilkinson], Laura [Enever] and I and we’re kind of rocking around together and it’s great. Being away from home for most of the year, it’s good to have that familiarity with people where you can relax and do things with them.”
Courtney Conlogue (USA), current World No. 2, did not let the immense pressure of the WSL Title race battle with Wright get to her, and negotiated a tricky Round 3 win over Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) and Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) to make her way into the Quarterfinals as well.
“Conditions were so tricky on that high tide, on my first wave I was hoping to finish that last turn and not making it kind of put me against the wall,” Conlogue admitted. “I’m stoked to get into the quarters and hopefully I get a few more waves than that. I knew I needed to bring my A-game in that heat. Sally [Fitzgibbons] is a really smart surfer that strategizes a lot and Nikki [Van Dijk] also, so I’m happy to make it through this one.”
Six-time WSL Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) blasted through the final heat of the women’s third round with an inspiring performance in the day’s most-exciting exchange against three-time WSL Champion Carissa Moore (HAW) and Coco Ho (HAW). While all three competitors opened their account with a high 8, Gilmore was the only surfer able to back her highest score with another excellent wave for an impressive 17.37 heat total and a spot in the Quarterfinals.
“I could be surfing a lefthand pointbreak and I’ll still keep my eyes open for a right,” an amused Gilmore commented. “I saw a couple of rights appear and disappear so I just kept them in mind and it worked out. You always have to be ready to adapt here, it’s lefts then it’s rights, it’s rip bowls then it’s huge hollow chunky waves so you just have to be ready for anything. I haven’t won an event in a while and that’s what it’s all about so I’ll do my best and we’ll see what happens.”
Last season’s Rookie of the Year Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) bounced back from an unlikely stumble in her opening matchup in Hossegor, and took control of the first heat of the day, relegating crowd favorite Johanne Defay (FRA) and Alessa Quizon (HAW) to Round 4 while she will advance straight to the Quarterfinals. The Hawaiian found two excellent lefts and displayed her trademark snaps in the power sections of the wave for an excellent 8 point ride backed up with a 6.00.
“It’s kind of chilly here in the morning so you have to work hard to get up early, I think I was the third person out in the lineup but I only really did one turn before my heat,” Weston-Webb said. “You have to select the ones that stand up through the channel on the inside, and to be in that position you need to maintain your paddling because the rip is taking you out. They’re hard to get but when you do they’re super fun waves.”
Event organizers will reconvene at 8 a.m. local time tomorrow morning to assess conditions and make the next call.
Surfline, official forecasters for the World Surf League (WSL), are calling for:
Fun to mid size WNW swell continues Sunday with favorable wind for much of the day. Smaller, but still fun size, WNW swell early next week as wind remains favorable. The latest model trend is for an increase in swell for the end of the waiting period (Thur-Sat), although wind may prove to be somewhat problematic.
ROXY PRO FRANCE ROUND 3 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) 14.00, Johanne Defay (FRA) 11.00, Alessa Quizon (HAW) 9.53
Heat 2: Tyler Wright (AUS) 11.37, Sage Erickson (USA) 10.10, Laura Enever (AUS) 8.46
Heat 3: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 10.30, Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 10.14, Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 6.10
Heat 4: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 17.37, Carissa Moore (HAW) 12.66, Coco Ho (HAW) 12.64
ROXY PRO FRANCE ROUND 4 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: Johanne Defay (FRA) vs. Sage Erickson (USA)
Heat 2: Laura Enever (AUS) vs. Alessa Quizon (HAW)
Heat 3: Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) vs. Coco Ho (HAW)
Heat 4: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS)
QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE ROUND 3 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Keanu Asing (HAW) 14.50 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 11.40
Heat 2: Adriano De Souza (BRA) 14.50 def. Conner Coffin (USA) 12.80
Heat 3: Matt Banting (AUS) 9.16 def. Italo Ferreira (BRA) 8.80
Heat 4: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 15.93 def. Davey Cathels (AUS) 14.53
Heat 5: Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 11.06 def. Nat Young (USA) 10.76
Heat 6: John John Florence (HAW) 16.80 def. Ryan Callinan (AUS) 15.50
Heat 7: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 13.34 vs. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 12.90
Heat 8: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 12.23 vs. Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 10.90
Heat 9: Kolohe Andino (USA) 14.93 vs. Jack Freestone (AUS) 8.83
Heat 10: Julian Wilson (AUS) 15.43 def. Alejo Muniz (BRA) 10.93
Heat 11: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 15.67 def. Miguel Pupo (BRA) 12.66
Heat 12: Kai Otton (AUS) 12.60 def. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 10.43
QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE ROUND 4 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Matt Banting (AUS) 14.43, Keanu Asing (HAW) 13.76, Adriano De Souza (BRA) 13.53
Heat 2: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 18.50, John John Florence (HAW) 18.47, Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 12.03
Heat 3: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 14.17, Caio Ibelli (BRA) 9.13, Kolohe Andino (USA) 8.74
Heat 4: Kai Otton (AUS) 15.50, Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 6.30, Julian Wilson (AUS) 2.33
QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE ROUND 5 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: Keanu Asing (HAW) vs. Stuart Kennedy (AUS)
Heat 2: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Adriano de Souza (BRA)
Heat 3: Caio Ibelli (BRA) vs. Julian Wilson (AUS)
Heat 4: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) vs. Kolohe Andino (USA)