Simon Anderson…

Simon Anderson…

Monday mornings are generally are a bit disagreeable. This one wasn’t. A morning spent drinking fine coffee whilst chatting with one of surfing’s most influential figures is a pretty good way to ease your way into the working week…
Interview & photos by Sharpy

First up: what the hell are you doing in St Agnes?
I’m here working with Jeremy at Walters, shaping some new boards and sorting out the boards we’re doing. That and actually going surfing, sounds like we timed it well as it’s been really fun. Plenty of swell, good conditions, it’s been nice down at Porthtowan. We were supposed to go for a surf this morning but we had to meet up with you so thanks for that … (chuckles).

Right. Let’s get to the meat of it: In board design is there much experimentation left to do or is it more refining what we already know?
Good question … I guess there’s experimentation left to do. I’m not sure who’s going to do it. Generally if you’re going to come up with something it has to fulfill a need you might have. In surfing today, especially at a pro level, the way they’re surfing on a wave it’s hard to imagine what more they need from their equipment. They’re going higher than they need to go on aerials. They’re going so fast on a lot of occasions they have to grab the rail to keep the board in the water. So I don’t know where the inspiration is going to come from, but if there’s a new design, a new step forward, it’ll obviously be a great thing for all levels of surfing.

Was that how it went down when you conceived the thruster, how long did it take for everyone to adapt to the classic three-fin set up?
That’s kind of what happened, it didn’t just help me competing on the world tour at the time. It helped all levels of surfers. It took me a good 12 months to adapt, it gained acceptance after about six months in ’81. I’d won a couple of events and was leading the tour so it was pretty obvious it was working. Pretty much after the comp season in Australia it was accepted worldwide. There were still doubts how it would go in Hawaii. That was my mission for the rest of that year: to prove it in Hawaiian waves.

If design is pretty much levelling off are materials the next big leap?
Yeah, maybe, I’m always hopeful there are better boards around the corner. That said, I’m not a chemist, I’m not good at sourcing new materials. Obviously there are people working on that kind of stuff. We have a system. If it ends up under the feet of the crew on the WSL then that’s all the validation you need. I keep my eye firmly on those guys to see what they’re doing and see what they’re surfing. At Trestles a lot of them were surfing epoxies. There’s been a bit of a merry-go-round with epoxy technology for a while but it seems to be gaining traction. It’ll be interesting to see where it leads. There are a lot of new combos of carbon and stuff, it’s mainly cosmetic, stylish even, not sure how functional it is.

It seems whatever shapers try we always loop back to the classic construction from fifty years ago?
Yeah that’s right, that’s been the case over the years definitely, we always end up back with regular foam and fibreglass. It’s a damn good combination, it goes well, it’s fairly durable, easy to shape, it looks good … it’s our standard. If a board doesn’t look like a normal board there’s been a problem with that in the past. The marketplace now seems to be more accepting of different looking boards, new technologies, and eco-friendly construction and all that so it’s in a healthy place right now. Getting back to your earlier question there’s no new stuff, there’s just the application of combining old style with modern elements.

Which shapers have inspired you?
I’m always looking at what’s coming out. When I was learning how to shape I was inspired by the local northern beaches crew in Sydney. I had guys like Geoff McCoy, Terry Fitzgerald and Col Smith to aspire to. In the case of Col and Terry they were great surfers and good shapers so I was lucky enough to be around those guys and learn from them. In the years after the thruster came out Al Merrick and Rusty did a lot of good work with the shape of that style of board. Of course a lot of guys contributed to the shape of the modern surfboard we see today. More recently Tomo is doing some really interesting stuff. There are a lot of shapers I keep an eye on. If I see anything that I like, the fact we work on laptops with shaping software is so useful, if you see something that catches your eye you can commit it to the program and pump out your take on it. It’s a nice time to be a surfboard designer. In the old days if you wanted to try something new you had to do it from scratch from the blank, it took quite a while to shape it, to change a board just slightly was a difficult thing back in the old days. These days you can you can make an eighth of an inch adjustment nose and tail and be fairly certain it’ll be accurate.

Are the top level guys that attuned they can pick up eighth of an inch differences?
It’s a great thing, especially for the high level guys, to get that 5-10 percent edge on their competitors. Some guys will get ten identical boards. Say Mick Fanning, he’ll get ten, disregard three or four just by looking at them, surf the rest and within a wave or two he’ll know if they’ll go good. He can evaluate ten boards pretty fast. You can change a rocker by an eighth of an inch which you can’t see but you’ll certainly feel it.

With boards for the common man is the future short and fat?
That’s a good question. The tour guys have been on similar equipment for a few years, and they’re pretty small. Not sure if they gone that much wider, but the nose and tails are. The rockers are a bit flatter. They’ve gone down and now they’re coming back up. Kelly was on 5’8″s and 5’9″s now he’s on 5’10” or 11″. For the recreational surfer they’ve got such a wide range of practical shapes that’ll give them more fun in the surf. One of the challenges of our profession is to make boards that work in crappy one-foot onshore surf and also go well when the waves are good. Unfortunately it can’t be the same board.

So the ‘one-board quiver’ is a myth?
(Laughs) I reckon it is. I don’t think you can have a one board quiver and really cover everything properly. For me the more boards the better, obviously it depends if you can afford it, if you can there’s nothing better than having a proper quiver.

Do you still tinker with fin design?
No. No I don’t muck around with fin design. It’s too complex. The best advice I can give is find a fin you like and stick with it. That said if a board isn’t feeling that good it’s remarkable the difference a change in fins can make. So keep an open mind.

Are glass-ons the ultimate?
Glass-ons have a different feel, yeah they are probably the ultimate in performance because they’re super smooth going through the transition of turns. But you do get used to the feel of fin systems and they’re way more practical. Also, unless the factory specialises in it, board makers aren’t as skilled as they used to be at doing fixed fins. Single fins aren’t hard, but doing three fins has always been a difficult job. That’s why the fin systems came out. The leading systems are all pretty good.

Kelly’s pool has been in the news just a bit. You think it’ll be useful for design feedback?
I’d like to hire the pool for a week and ‘do some testing’ (chuckles) do you think he’d let me do that? It’d be great but all it would be good for is fine tuning. Finding that super magic board. You could do what we talked about earlier. Surf ten boards and see how they go. The wave is perfect, just like Kelly.

What advice would you give the WSL moving forward?
Commercially I couldn’t give them any advice in financial matters as I’m not that smart. To me the current situation is idyllic, it’s everything we would’ve dreamed could happen for surfing. I know the surfers on it have some complaints and some issues. If I was to give them any advice it’s to listen to the surfers. They know where the sport needs to go and they know the deficiencies in the tour. To me it looks it pretty damn good. I know they have to make some money at some point. But I love the product, I love watching it … if the time zone lines up.

Finally … surfing in the Olympics?
Personally I’m against it. Purely because some host countries are landlocked. It doesn’t seem a good fit to me. Maybe in a wave pool situation I’d be in favour of it. It would need to be run like gymnastics not how it is now. It would definitely be controversial whichever way they do it. You’ll still end up with John John getting an eight and Jordy getting a 7.9 and everyone shouting. That said it could be interesting…

Super Saturday fires

Super Saturday fires

So, Super Saturday happened. With a large swell and wind swinging from west to north east there were pumping waves from Bournemouth right around the south west peninsula up to west Wales. Of course you will have seen Porthleven was pumping, but here’s a round up of all the action from our followers on #carvemag. Pretty epic day. Hope you got some…

// tuck in // Sunset nuggets

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Solo session at my favorite spot #carvemag #supersaturday #wlinsta #cornwall

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Left and right perfection. Incredible day at Porth Neigwl today!

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Chocolate walls this morning! . . . #carvemag

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@matmalcolm making his mark on a blank Dorset wall.

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Jo Dennison: The WaveGarden Goddess…

Jo Dennison: The WaveGarden Goddess…

You never know where you’ll end in this surfing life. Pembrokeshire pro Jo Dennison swapped chasing tour points for a nine to five with a difference.

What’s your official title?
Water Operations Manager.

How did you score the job?
I was visiting the prototype near San Sebastian in 2014 with my coach Martin Waltz who was running a project on the wave for his master’s degree. I found out that they had already started building one in North Wales and it instantly fuelled my interest. Could you imagine the first ever Wave Garden opening in your home country and being involved? I mean, it could have been done in any of the already famous surfing destinations of Australia or America but instead it was in the valleys of North Wales.

Were you nervous about moving from West Wales to the North?
I actually had been living a bit of a nomad life up until that point. After finishing university in Swansea I started chasing the summers for endless sunshine and waves. I spent eight months in France competing in any of the WQS events I could. And in the winter places like Australia, Morocco, Canary Islands, Sri Lanka surf training and travelling, living the dream some would say. Making another move wouldn’t be a problem, however moving nine miles inland for effectively an office job definitely made me nervous.

Jo mid-shoot for German TV, we can’t say much more but the end result should be entertaining…

Is part of your job making sure Surf Snowdonia’s wave is surfable every morning?
Every morning starts with a risk assessment and surf check. It is very important to know the facilities are safe before letting the customers in … You may have noticed the staff surf sessions in the morning!

Would you agree in the world of the surf industry you are one of the few people in the world pretty much guaranteed waves every day?
I have had to change my mind set a little bit because I used to spend six to eight hours in the water a day. That’s 40 plus hours a week. I currently surf about four or five hours a week now, but actually the amount of waves I ride is higher. It is so reliable and consistent it actually feels like a gym session or a proper training session. Sometimes I get 37 waves an hour, really giving me the opportunity to ‘train’ manoeuvres. I would have to say I am one of the luckiest people in the surfing industry to have a Wave Garden as my office.

The whole operation seems to be running like a well-oiled machine, are you always worried something is going to break with the tech?
I think that everyone was really quick to judge when we first installed the machinery and ran into some unexpected problems. Due to the scale of the project and it being the first commercial Wave Garden in the world, it is natural that it takes some time to find systems that work both operationally and mechanically. The engineers do a really good job, doing daily checks/dives to finding any potential issues before they happen. It is literally like running a massive car: giving it regular MOT and checking your tyres but on a grand scale.

How is it going back in the ocean now, do you have to adjust?
When I go back in the ocean, it definitely takes time to adjust, over time I have turned into a wavepool surfer. My equipment is completely different, the rules are different and also the timings. It is more difficult to practice a specific move in the ocean, getting two or three waves in an hour is more likely than the 37 I am now used to!

Can you still remember how to duck dive?
I recently went to France, I forgot how much paddling and duckdiving is involved The energy output to just getting those few waves is incredible and remembering the unwritten rules of giving way to locals, etc. is such a game of chess. I’ve always struggled in crowds. However, I do enjoy the feeling of being free and the unpredictability of the ocean. It’s worth the duckdives for the more soulful surf and ultimately my happy place.

Just how did you break your favourite board? And have you broken any others in the Welsh hills?
Well, I had a very nice invitation, almost a golden ticket if you will, from O’Neill wetsuits. It was to participate in a night surf at Surf Snowdonia with Jordy Smith and wakeboarder Nico Von Lerchenfeld. O’Neill had booked out the waves for a few hours, set up different colour lights on the pier, as well as smoke machines. We all had an hour each to perform an expression session. It was so much fun and also the first ever night surf and first wakeboarder to ride in the lagoon and launch over the waves. It just so happened on one of my waves, riding into the dark I landed a chop hop, rotated into the flats and ran into the dingy. This impact ripped an entire fin out. My 5’4” Rob Vaughan broadsword was transformed into a twinny, I’m just happy it wasn’t a camera man!

Seems like a good crew of staff there, do you have a big staff party at the end of the season in your own bar?
Well all my staff have to pass my vigorous recruitment program so they aren’t a bad bunch. The team spirit is really nice actually but we all have surfing in common. As for a party that’s a question for managing director Andy Ainscough? Please?

What’s on for the winter break?
I spent the last two winters in Indonesia, one on a boat trip in the Mentawi with some of the WQS girls (Sarah Beardmore, Paige Hareb, Kim Mayer, Claudin Hagoncaves) which was the best trip of my life, as well as the best waves. Another winter in Sumbawa at Lakeys which is like a natural wave garden. I would like to stay closer to home in Europe this year, let me know if you’ve got a space on a trip!

Quik Pro France Day 3

Quik Pro France Day 3

Hossegor looking a bit good. The crowd was mahoosive and all.

The Quik and Roxy Pro France are done. Blazed through in three blistering days of action. The weather gods have been kind with all day offshores, summer like weather and pumping surf. You couldn’t really ask for more as different tides and swells gifted tubes, long walls and air sections. John John looked unstoppable in early rounds, channelling Slater’s uberfreak alien genius, Seabass and Kolohe were on form and legends like Fanning and Parko seemed a bit out of sorts. The semi with JJF and Medina was always going to decide the winner and Medina took the heat and the event. It does leave JJF leading the tour going into Portugal… On the women’s side all four of the semi finalists could’ve taken the event but the final between Riss and Lakey ended up with Carissa back on the familiar podium.

Right now there’s a DJ blasting tunes in the Centrale plaza in Hossegor, there’s thousands of people in town and it’s going to be a messy one. But the wise would take it easy as tomorrow is going to be pumping. Swell is building overnight and it’s going to get mental. Hopefully a top 34 freesurf frothfest to round off a cracking trip.

Tyler Wright nailing a third with a messed up knee is impressive/madness.


Miguel Pupo

John John being a freak in the quarters


Micks’s Hail Mary

John and a near impossible tube he made to huge roars from the crowd

Not every day you snap a board on an air attempt. Medina did.

John semi styling

Medina’s el rollo.

Riss killing it

Lakey was solid all event and was unlucky to not win

Medina moment

This win meant a lot…

John just plain showing off by this point

Mick enjoying being back in the sharp end of events…

Seabass sending it…

Kolohe boosting…

Quik Pro France Day 2

Quik Pro France Day 2

JJF Photo: Masurel

Bullet points from day two:
• Jordy Smith knocked by local wildcard Marc Lacomare. A world title race hand grenade right there. Lacomare is in the qtrs.
• John John put on an otherworldly display of full rote aerial prowess and is into the quarters.
• Mick and Jeremy was one of those ‘judges I’m looking at you’ moments. Arguments will persist if Mick’s last wave was an eight or no.
• Outside bank or the shorey was the tactical call of the day.
• Adrien Toyon free surfing south of the comp pretty much won the tube rider of the day with a few mad drainers in the shorey.

Owen Wright. Photo: Sharpy

Kikas. Photo: Sharpy

Mick Photo: Masurel

Kolohe Photo: Poullenot

::WSL report::
HOSSEGOR, France (Friday, October 13, 2017) – The Quiksilver Pro France, Stop No. 9 of the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), resumed in absolutely incredible conditions to complete the men’s second, third and fourth rounds of competition. The day witnessed countless upsets with the defeats of most of the Top 10 surfers as conditions rewarded risk-taking in the thumping barrels and tides played with the minds of the world’s best athletes.

A slow heat between Australians Owen Wright and Stuart Kennedy came down to the wire as both surfers struggled to find any scores above the average. That was until Wright locked into a long and deep barrel on his backhand to drop one of the highest scores of the event, a near-perfect 9.17 for the win.

“That was a bit of luck, but you watch it all morning and you know how hard it is to surf a heat with a peak that’s so random, it’s really hard to pick one spot,” Wright said. “Stu (Kennedy) and I paddled out on this right to get a couple turns out, but it got really full and was tricky so I just decided to move across to the shorey and give that a stab.”

Kolohe Andino (USA) ended Bede Durbidge’s (AUS) final French run early as the two surfers battled the shifty peaks of La Graviere. The Californian took the debate to the air for his backup score and slightly edged out Durbidge for his spot into Round Four.

“Bede (Durbidge) is Mr. cool, calm, collected and we’ve had so many man-on-man heats together,” Andino said. “Two years ago we surfed against each other here in pretty much the same conditions and he handed it to me — he had like two 9s. I was really nervous in this one. Anything that came I just tried to rip it as hard as I could and I’m so happy it worked out.”

Miguel Pupo (BRA) and Adriano de Souza (BRA) paddled out when the peak really settled close to shore. While De Souza struggled to locate the open sections, Pupo had a blast, locking into two excellent barrels to post a 16.30 total and eliminate the former World Champion.

“I was surfing in Supertubos before I came here and was training on my backside barrel because I feel I have to get better on that,” Pupo said. “I was training those pumps before getting in the barrel and it kind of set me in rhythm for this event. ”

Pupo continued to impress as he led the charge in Round Four to claim the first spot in the quarterfinals.

Caio Ibelli (BRA) and Frederico Morais (PRT) took two completely different approaches in Heat 4. The Brazilian stayed on the inside threading hollow barrels while Morais tried to surf the rights out the back and opted for the rail game. As the tide filled up, the rights got fatter and while Morais failed to go over the average, Ibelli was building a solid scoreboard and ultimately a heat win.

“Since Bells Beach, I haven’t made it out of Round Three so I’m super stoked,” Ibelli said. “Most importantly I was just trying to have fun and enjoy the moment. Just like in a freesurf, I tried to catch as many waves as possible and find the right current, the right rhythm and a barrel that I really like.”

Giant killer Marc Lacomare (FRA) continued to slay the CT’s Top 34, taking down Jeep Leaderboard No. 1 Jordy Smith (ZAF) in an epic Round Three battle. The talented French wildcard who eliminated Julian Wilson (AUS) yesterday, tubed his way into Round Four for his best-ever result in a Championship Tour event.

“It feels amazing, we have good waves this year and all my friends and family here on the beach it does not get much better than this,” Lacomare admitted. “I think it’s an advantage to surf at home, especially for me. I’m not on the CT, not going for a world title, I’m just trying to surf well and be smart.”

“It’s France, it changes really quickly, for example the wave that we were surfing out front is pretty much non-existent anymore,” Smith stated. “I got two okay waves and kind of had a rhythm, Marc (Lacomare) sat on that little left. With the tide dropping, I thought I should head out to the point of the sandbank, got a good score but it wasn’t enough.”

Lacomare further impressed as he put Caio Ibelli (BRA) and Sebastian Zietz (HAW) in a combination situation in their Round Four match-up for his spot in the quarters. His impeccable wave-selection and radical backhand attack on home turf were too much to take in for his opponents.

John John Florence (HAW) lit up the whole beach in Round Three Heat 7 with arguably one of the biggest airs this season to post a 9.73 on his second effort. The reigning World Champion capitalized on the early exits of Smith, Wilson and De Souza with an incredible display of high-performance surfing in the perfect peaks of Hossegor. He later launched into a second massive rotation, this time on his forehand to definitely shut down any hopes for rookie Ethan Ewing (AUS) to make it out of Round Three.

“It wasn’t what I planned to do out there but it just kind of happened, especially after that first left I just tried to do airs on every wave,” Florence said. “I carried out my heat the same way I would if Jordy would have made it or not, just focused on myself and having fun!”

Florence scored another near-perfect heat in Round Four with two massive airs and a18.56 points combo to send Fanning and Parkinson into Round Five.

The combat between Mick Fanning (AUS) and hometown hero Jeremy Flores (FRA) brought tension amongst the thousands of fans who came to support their Frenchmen. Flores opened with an 8.83 in the opening minutes and applied pressure from the get-go. But three-time WSL Champion Fanning did not let the situation faze him and built a comeback from scratch, ultimately dropping the winning score in the dying seconds of their match-up.

“It went flat for a long time but I felt calm, I knew the waves were going to come it was just a matter of when,” Fanning reflected. “I love surfing with Jeremy (Flores), we’ve had so many battles over the years and they’re always so intense. He can really hold his head high, he went mad!”

In the following heat, Joel Parkinson (AUS) took down Ian Gouveia (BRA) in a slightly less entertaining heat. Gabriel Medina (BRA) left no room for another Hossegor local, Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) to find his rhythm, and put together a solid effort to make his way into Round Four.

Joan Duru (FRA) joined Lacomare as the last two Frenchmen surviving Round Three at the term of an intense battle with Adrian Buchan (AUS). The heat was a relatively low-scoring affair that came down to a last-second effort from Duru to steal the lead back from the Australian. Buchan had two final chances to turn the heat but fell both times and let Duru walk away with the win.

“I felt pretty bad at the start, I couldn’t get the good waves and was stuck in a rip,” Duru said. “Then I figured it out and got a 6, so I thought I was still in and getting that priority at the end I knew it was my chance. I just stayed patient and when that wave came I really didn’t want to blow it.”

Matt Wilkinson (AUS) and Nat Young (USA) wrapped up the action from Round Three with an exciting all-goofy foot battle, eventually dominated by Young, creating yet another upset by dispatching of World No. 4 in equal 13th place.

Event officials will re-assess conditions at 8:15 a.m Saturday for a potential final day of both the Quiksilver & Roxy Pro France.

Surfline, official forecasters for the Quiksilver and Roxy Pro France, are calling for:

Medium size NW swell will ease through Friday and fade further during the first half of Saturday as favorable wind continues. An even larger swell will fill in for Sunday, building Saturday afternoon/evening and dropping on Monday. Another strong WNW swell looks increasingly likely for Tuesday before fading Wednesday, although wind conditions may be tricky.

Remaining Quiksilver Pro France Round 2 Results (H9-12):
Heat 9: Michel Bourez (PYF) 11.77 def. Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 11.26
Heat 10: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 10.33 def. Italo Ferreira (BRA) 5.60
Heat 11: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 9.66 def. Conner Coffin (USA) 9.50
Heat 12: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 13.00 def. Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 8.80

Quiksilver Pro France Round 3 Results:
Heat 1: Owen Wright (AUS) 13.50 def. Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 8.60
Heat 2: Kolohe Andino (USA) 11.80 def. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 11.23
Heat 3: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 16.30 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 10.17
Heat 4: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 14.33 def. Frederico Morais (PRT) 9.60
Heat 5: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 14.33 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 5.73
Heat 6: Marc Lacomare (FRA) 14.10 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13.00
Heat 7: John John Florence (HAW) 19.16 def. Ethan Ewing (AUS) 14.50
Heat 8: Mick Fanning (AUS) 16.24 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 16.00
Heat 9: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 15.77 def. Ian Gouveia (BRA) 14.77
Heat 10: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 15.90 def. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 8.53
Heat 11: Joan Duru (FRA) 12.63 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 12.27
Heat 12: Nat Young (USA) 14.73 def. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 14.43

Quiksilver Pro France Round 4 Results:
Heat 1: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 14.80, Owen Wright (AUS) 12.33, Kolohe Andino (USA) 11.60
Heat 2: Marc Lacomare (FRA) 15.43, Caio Ibelli (BRA) 9.87, Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 9.07
Heat 3: John John Florence (HAW) 18.56, Mick Fanning (AUS) 17.03, Joel Parkinson (AUS) 11.37
Heat 4: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 14.43, Nat Young (USA) 11.33, Joan Duru (FRA) 8.67

Quiksilver Pro France Round 5 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Sebastian Zietz (HAW)
Heat 2: Caio Ibelli (BRA) vs. Kolohe Andino (USA)
Heat 3: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Joan Duru (FRA)
Heat 4: Nat Young (USA) vs. Joel Parkinson (AUS)

Roxy Pro France Semifinal Match-Ups:
SF 1: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS)
SF 2: Lakey Peterson (USA) vs. Tyler Wright (AUS)

Quik Pro France Day 1…

Quik Pro France Day 1…

Joan Duru killing it today… Photo: Sharpy

Been a long day at the Quik Pro with round one and eight heats of round two done in big, long walling Graviere waves. Bullet points: Joan Duru smashed it, John John and Jordy sailed through keeping the title dream alive, Julian Wilson is out kind of turning his into a nightmare and Filipe Toledo was surfing with a bung rib so obvs couldn’t smash it totally. Rd two will be on tomorrow for sure. Here’s the press release from the WSL…

HOSSEGOR, France (Thursday, October 12, 2017) – Following an opening weekend dedicated to women’s action and three consecutive lay days, the Quiksilver Pro France launched in epic conditions at La Graviere. A new swell pushed clean offshore waves in the six-to-eight foot range (1.8 – 2.4 metre) for the men’s first round and eight heats of the second.

The opening two heats of Stop No. 9 of the men’s World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT) got off to a slow start as the lineup was still settling from a windy afternoon yesterday. Top seeds Adriano de Souza (BRA) and Owen Wright (AUS) suffered Round Two relegations at the hands of Stuart Kennedy (AUS) and Nat Young (USA), respectively.

“I was feeling a bit tired this morning but I’m so happy to finally win a Round One heat,” Kennedy said. “I haven’t won a three-man heat in a CT since Trestles last year, so it feels good to finally put it together.”

“It definitely feels good to skip Round Two, that thing is always deadly,” Young said. “It’s always good to have a heat when the waves are fun. It’s tough to come up against the higher seeds in Round Three, too, whether it’s John (Florence) or Jordy (Smith) or whoever that is at every event, but right now I have no pressure so I’ll just go out there and do my thing.”

Wilko Photo: Sharpy

World No. 4 Matt Wilkinson (AUS) was the first top seed to click into gear, taking his backhand vertical attack to the clean Graviere rights to post two good scores and advance straight into Round Three. Aussie compatriot Josh Kerr (AUS) narrowly missed the landing of a couple of aerial maneuvers that could have turned the heat but in the end, the slightly safer approach of Wilkinson won the heat.

“It was so fun out there, the tide came in quickly and I knew it was going to move in and become a bit chunkier,” Wilkinson said. “That first 7 was kind of exactly what I was looking for. It’s good to surf waves that have a bit of power, you just pick a line and push as hard as you can. I’m excited coming into this leg. I love surfing here and in Portugal when the forecast is good. If I just keep winning heats and find myself at the two end of these two events I’m definitely going to be back up there for Pipe.”

Caio Ibelli (BRA) and Ethan Ewing (AUS) teamed up in Heat 4 to relegate one more top seed to Round Two in Julian Wilson (AUS). Ibelli was the first surfer to find a good hollow section on the lefts to score a deep barrel for a near-excellent score. But, it was rookie Ewing and an inspired performance on the rights that won him his first Round One win this season. Ewing let loose on a beautiful set wave and put together a combination of three major carves for an 8.40, the biggest score of the day at that point.

“It’s been hard on the CT with waves that I thought were good and scores that weren’t,” Ewing explained. “So I’ll take it when it comes my way. I’m putting less pressure on myself coming into the back half of the year, just trying to have fun and show what I can do.”

Italo Ferreira (BRA) started his Round One heat the best possible way, launching into a massive backhand rotation in the Graviere shorebreak to post a near-perfect 9.50 in the opening minutes. But when facing the reigning WSL Champion John John Florence (HAW), one big score is never going to be enough, and the Hawaiian went to the air as well to post a couple of big numbers and take the win over Ferreira and defending event champion Keanu Asing (HAW).

“I didn’t see his wave, but I heard everyone freaking out and I knew it was a big score, he’s always going to do something massive especially in those conditions,” Florence said. “I was starting to get my composure back towards the end of that heat and got a couple waves.”

Jordy Photo: Sharpy

World No. 1 Jordy Smith (ZAF) put on a power-surfing clinic on his forehand in the following heat, dominating a Round One battle with talented Frenchman and event wildcard Marc Lacomare (FRA) as well as CT sophomore Kanoa Igarashi (USA). Smith’s flawless approach on the overhead sets won him a 16.10 heat total for a spot into Round Three.

“It’s got a lot of power out there I’m kind of psyched on the conditions, it’s so buttery it’s really nice when you get that open face you can really lay down some tracks,” Smith said. “I never take a three-man heat lightly — I always try my best to skip those. My boards are feeling really good. It’s kind of the usual that I normally ride and when there’s a bit more power in the waves, my boards seem to love it so I’m stoked!”

Joan Duru Photo: Sharpy

Local hero Joan Duru (FRA) galvanized the massive crowds enjoying a picture-perfect day in Southwest France in Heat 7. Duru found two absolute bombs in the opening four minutes of his match-up with Filipe Toledo (BRA) and Miguel Pupo (BRA) and built an incredible 18-point total to combo his two opponents. Duru’s backhand barrel skills came at the perfect time when La Graviere started pulsing deep sections and his punctuation marks under the lip finished the job. A last barrel from Duru in the dying seconds of the heat continued to keep the fans on their toes even if the score was not a substantial one.

Joan Duru Photo: Sharpy

“I got a little hometown luck, paddling back from the other side of the peak and getting a wave straight to me,” Duru admitted. “And then paddling back out getting that barrel again. I’m really stoked. I’m lucky Maud (Le Car) was here to run and bring mea board when I broke mine. My main focus is to re-qualify. The rookie of the year race is interesting, but I want to solidify my spot on tour first then see what happens.”

Medina… Photo Sharpy

Gabriel Medina (BRA) took on two Hossegor locals as well with Jeremy Flores (FRA) and Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) in Heat 8. The Brazilian, a two-time winner at the Quiksilver Pro France, engaged in a back-and-forth battle for the lead with Flores while the Italian rookie struggled a little bit more to find waves. Ultimately, it was a backhand combination of radical turns from Medina that won him the heat.

“I love this kind of beach break,” Medina said. “You have so many options to surf. Today was a bit tricky, but I’m happy with the two waves I surfed. Both Leo (Fioravanti) and Jeremy (Flores) spend more time here than anyone on tour, so it was a tough heat but I have spent a bit of time here too and it’s one of the best places for me to get a result.”

Joel Parkinson (AUS) managed to walk through a firework-less heat against Jack Freestone (AUS) and Michel Bourez (PYF) and logically claimed a ticket for Round Three, linking together a couple of nice waves with his signature stylish approach on the clean rights.

Sebastian Zietz (HAW) put a hurdle on Connor O’Leary’s (AUS) Rookie of the Year race, pushing the talented Australian and Jadson Andre (BRA) into the elimination Round Two. Zietz’ marine sense was put to the test and the Hawaiian threaded the long rights perfectly, even finding a deep barrel section close to shore for his highest score of 8.17.

“That’s probably the easiest way to get scores, go straight through the barrel,” Zietz said. “I was kind of lost out there, with a couple giant sets and some white water all the way across. It was kind of a low-scoring heat but I found a lucky little tube and I’m glad I stayed with that one.”

Ian Gouveia (BRA) upset three-time WSL Champion and multiple event winner in France, Mick Fanning (AUS), as well as Frederico Morais (PRT) in their Round One match-up. Adrian Buchan (AUS) took out the final ticket for Round Three, sending Kolohe Andino (USA) and Ezekiel Lau (HAW) to the second round.

Round Two of the Quiksilver Pro France launched with a massive upset when talented wildcard Marc Lacomare (FRA) defeated current World No. 3 Julian Wilson (AUS). A rather slow heat saw both surfers exchange scores in the six points range. A final set came right before the buzzer to give Lacomare and Wilson a final opportunity. The Frenchman started on a big left and performed three turns to post a 7.27 and eliminate Wilson.

“World No. 1 or 2 or 3 it doesn’t really matter, all those surfers surf sogood,” Lacomare said. “I just tried to take advantage of this amazing opportunity to surf at home, and tried to have fun and be smart. Every heat I make against those guys is definitely a confidence boost, it will probably help with the last few events of the QS.”

Wilson, who won the Billabong Pro Tahiti and in August, struggled to back up the result with a deceiving 9th in Trestles and his worst finish all year with a 25th in France. With only two events left after France, the Australian’s World Title hopes could be seriously jeopardized if his direct competition,Florence and Smith, go a long way at La Graviere.

“It was a tough heat, it’s shifty out there and a long way out to sea,” Wilson explained. “I didn’t finish two waves that would have probably changed the result of that heat. I’m disappointed that I didn’t get the win, this is my poorest result this year but it’s the way it goes. The World Title is my biggest motivation and that was a bit of a dagger in my hopes for that this year. But, I’ve won those next two events before and I’ll look forward to them.”

Toledo… Photo Sharpy

The next upset came from Miguel Pupo (BRA), who eliminated fellow Brazilian athlete and recent winner in Trestles Filipe Toledo (BRA). Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) continued the trend of upsets in Round Two by eliminating current Rookie of the Year leader Connor O’Leary (AUS).

Frederico Morais (PRT), Kolohe Andino (USA) and Mick Fanning (AUS) took the final three heats out to move into Round Three and avoid an equal 25th finish in Hossegor.

Kikas. Photo: Sharpy

Event officials and surfers will reconvene tomorrow at 8 a.m for a probable start of the remaining heats of the Quiksilver Pro France Round Two. The Roxy Pro France Semifinals will also be on standby.

Surfline, official forecasters for the Quiksilver and Roxy Pro France, are calling for:

Medium size NW swell will ease through Friday and fade further during the first half of Saturday as favorable wind continues. An even larger swell will fill in for Sunday, building Saturday afternoon/evening and dropping on Monday. Another strong WNW swell looks increasingly likely for Tuesday before fading Wednesday, although wind conditions may be tricky.

Quiksilver Pro France Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 12.00, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 10.77, Conner Coffin (USA) 6.33
Heat 2: Nat Young (USA) 11.00, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 9.17, Owen Wright (AUS) 7.20
Heat 3: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 13.77, Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 12.50, Josh Kerr (AUS) 10.76
Heat 4: Ethan Ewing (AUS) 15.57, Caio Ibelli (BRA) 15.33, Julian Wilson (AUS) 9.13
Heat 5: John John Florence (HAW) 15.67, Italo Ferreira (BRA) 15.60, Keanu Asing (HAW) 5.10
Heat 6: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 16.10, Marc Lacomare (FRA) 12.70, Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 10.47
Heat 7: Joan Duru (FRA) 18.00, Filipe Toledo (BRA) 11.43, Miguel Pupo (BRA) 9.14
Heat 8: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 15.86, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 15.27, Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 13.26
Heat 9: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 13.20, Jack Freestone (AUS) 11.96, Michel Bourez (PYF) 11.40
Heat 10: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 12.74, Jadson Andre (BRA) 10.74, Connor O’Leary (AUS) 10.57
Heat 11: Ian Gouveia (BRA) 15.57, Mick Fanning (AUS) 15.27, Frederico Morais (PRT) 12.16
Heat 12: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 15.60, Kolohe Andino (USA) 10.63, Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 10.60

Leo. Photo: Sharpy

Quiksilver Pro France Round 2 Results:
Heat 1: Marc Lacomare (FRA) 13.27 def. Julian Wilson (AUS) 12.23
Heat 2: Owen Wright (AUS) 13.60 def. Keanu Asing (HAW) 11.17
Heat 3: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 15.97 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 13.00
Heat 4: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 12.27 def. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 8.50
Heat 5: Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 14.60 def. Connor O’Leary (AUS) 11.87
Heat 6: Frederico Morais (PRT) 15.26 def. Jack Freestone (AUS) 11.37
Heat 7: Kolohe Andino (USA) 13.50 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 12.60
Heat 8: Mick Fanning (AUS) 13.20 def. Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 12.84