THE best surfers in the world have hit the water at the Quiksilver Pro France, as clean six-to-eight foot waves rolled in at Culs Nus.
Offshore winds groomed the solid swell on offer, creating a tube riding feast for the world’s best surfers, who proceeded to put on a high-performance surfing spectacle for the thousands on the beach and many more watching online and via broadcasts around the world.
It all began with Brett Simpson defeating 11-time world champion Kelly Slater in the opening Round 1 heat.
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Simpson needs a good result in France as he sits outside the requalification Top 22 and will need big results in the last three events of the WSL CT season to remain amongst the world’s best in 2016.
“First heats are always hard, it was a bit foggy this morning and I didn’t really have a freesurf,” Simpson said.
“It’s really fun, there’s peaks everywhere and I was able to get two good waves. I almost made a mistake at the end, I had priority and Kelly got a wave, I made the decision not to go and he almost got the score. I haven’t had much success as of late and it feels great to get a win. It’s nice when the waves are like this and you’re excited and you get good barrels.”
Gold Coast champion and current World Number 1 Mick Fanning overcame a treacherous Round 1 matchup against Tahitian powerhouse Michel Bourez and local event wildcard Maxime Huscenot.
Fanning threaded through a heavy Hossegor barrel to belt an incredible 9.73 and advance straight into the third round.
“It can be heaven or hell out there, if you get the waves it’s great and there are some amazing ones, but you can also easily get lost real quick,” Fanning said.
“You’ve got to pick your spot and hopefully they come so there’s a little bit of luck involved today. All my wins here were really different, I think in 2010 it was somewhere around here, out the back and pretty massive, very similar conditions to this and it was never about scores and results but just about getting barreled with only one other person out, so probably the funnest year.”
Fellow Australian Julian Wilson put on a deep barrel-riding clinic at Cul Nus, to collect the day’s highest combined heat total, an impressive 18.80 out of 20.
A former runner-up in France (2011), Wilson found two brilliant right-handers back-to-back and surfed the fast, throaty barrels flawlessly to advance into the third round.
“I got into a really good rhythm with the sets and got two waves back to back, it was really fun out there,” Wilson explained. “I want to have a really consistent year, two 13th obviously never feels good but there’s a lot left to go in the year.”
The most beautiful story from the event came from Dane Reynold, who announced he would give away his entire prize-money to the NGO ‘Surfers, Not Street Children’ association in South Africa.
Thankfully for his charity, Reynolds sailed through to the third round with a win over Owen Wright and Sebastian Zietz.
“I’m definitely inspired to surf good and do my best, good waves make it exciting and I think the performance excites me,” Reynolds reflected.
“They take street children in Durban (South Africa) and they provide mentorship and education all through surfing,” Reynolds continued.
“I had a friend who visited them this year and suggested it. I just wanted to come here and surf on somebody’s behalf, and that kind of felt like it would be a good motivation. I have great sponsorship money and I just felt like somebody else could need it more and benefit from it.”
QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE ROUND 1 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Brett Simpson (USA) 14.84, Kelly Slater (USA) 14.84, Jadson Andre (BRA) 10.90
Heat 2: Julian Wilson (AUS) 18.80, Miguel Pupo (BRA) 10.83, Aritz Aranburu (ESP) 5.66
Heat 3: Dane Reynolds (USA) 17.00, Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 15.90, Owen Wright (AUS) 8.94
Heat 4: Tomas Hermes (BRA) 11.57, Adam Melling (AUS) 10.97, Filipe Toledo (BRA) 9.93
Heat 5: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 16.00, Caio Ibelli (BRA) 6.37, Keanu Asing (HAW) 4.97
Heat 6: Mick Fanning (AUS) 16.73, Michel Bourez (PYF) 10.73, Maxime Huscenot (FRA) 8.87
Heat 7: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 14.33, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 6.76, Dusty Payne (HAW) 4.33
Heat 8: John John Florence (HAW) 18.60, Alejo Muniz (BRA), 10.93, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 2.83
Heat 9: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 18.40, Italo Ferreira (BRA) 14.84, Ricardo Christie (NZL) 9.50
Heat 10: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 13.70, Glenn Hall (IRL) 6.43, Nat Young (USA) 4.67
Heat 11: Kolohe Andino (USA) 14.40, Kai Otton (AUS) 11.10, Josh Kerr (AUS) 9.90
Heat 12: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 15.43, Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 10.73, Joel Parkinson (AUS) 10.50
UPCOMING QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE ROUND 2 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Maxime Huscenot (FRA)
Heat 2: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Caio Ibelli (BRA)
Heat 3: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Aritz Aranburu (ESP)
Heat 4: Jeremy Flores (FRA) vs. Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 5: Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. Alejo Muniz (BRA)
Heat 6: Nat Young (USA) vs. Ricardo Christie (NZL)
Heat 7: Josh Kerr (AUS) vs. Glenn Hall (IRL)
Heat 8: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) vs. Michel Bourez (PYF)
Heat 9: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Keanu Asing (HAW)
Heat 10: Kai Otton (AUS) vs. Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 11: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) vs. Sebastian Zietz (HAW)
Heat 12: Jadson Andre (BRA) vs. Miguel Pupo (BRA)