The Quiksilver Pro and Roxy Pro France, Stop No. 9 on the 2015 Samsung Galaxy World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), ran in pumping conditions, deciding the men’s and women’s Quarterfinalists at Culs Nus. Huge crowds gathered on the water’s edge to witness an epic day of mind-blowing performances from the world’s best surfers.
Gabriel Medina (BRA), 21, reigning WSL Champion, blew up in his non-elimination Round 4 matchup and posted the men’s event first perfect 10 point ride for a no-grab stratospheric full-rotation. Medina then turned to maximum-risks vertical backhand hooks to back it up with a couple of 9 point rides and put his opponents in a combination situation. The 2011 Quiksilver Pro France winner, Medina looked unstoppable in the pumping conditions and will look to go all the way and post his first event win of 2015 when the competition resumes.
“It felt like I was free surfing, surf against Wilko and Owen we’ve been doing this for a long time as we always stay in the same house as a team. It was sick, I had a lot of fun,” Medina said. “This might have been the biggest air I’ve ever done. It feels good to be in the quarters. I’ve had a couple of losses early this season and I’m surfing more relaxed now, not thinking about World Titles and just enjoying.”
The high-flying Brazilian will be joined by defending event champion John John Florence (HAW) in a much anticipated superheat when the event resumes.
Julian Wilson (AUS), 26, current WSL No. 5, dominated his Round 4 bout to put an end to a series of unlikely 13th place finishes in Tahiti and Trestles. Wilson fired up and entertained the capacity crowds with aerial maneuvers and carves on the glassy canvas conditions provided.
“The waves are fun, the tide just turned before our heat and gradually as our heat went on the waves got a better shape to them,” Wilson stated. “The medium ones are definitely the best, but even on those big sets if you know it’s going to reform with a big section in the inside, you can roll the dice under priority, there was lots of opportunities out there.”
Mick Fanning (AUS), 34, three-time WSL Champion, marched through Round 4 to get one step closer to an unprecedented fifth event title in France, as the current Jeep Rankings Leader unleashed his signature power carves to rack up two excellent scores. Fanning did not let yesterday’s close call against wildcard Huscenot hinder his momentum and looked lethal in the rippable peaks.
“It felt like I’m building and my surfing is getting a bit better,” Fanning reflected. “Hopefully comes final day it can peak and I can put another good performance. I like these big matchups, even though they are stressful, they keep you in a good frame of mind. Sometimes when you surf easy heats, then you get those big matchups and you sort of forget what to do.”
Adriano De Souza (BRA), 28, followed right into Fanning’s path with a similar approach to dispatch of Jeremy Flores (FRA) and John John Florence (HAW) on his way to an exciting quarterfinal matchup against Owen Wright (AUS). De Souza laid down his sharp forehand turns to collect the day’s second-highest total of 18.50.
“I was watching conditions since the first heat of the day and I realized our heat was going to be pumping,” De Souza said. “I watched John John’s last heat, he smashed it and Jeremy grew up here and knows everything about it so I really had to do everything I could. I’m happy to make this heat and am looking forward to finals day.”
WSL Top17 athletes had previously launched the day’s action with the completion of Round 3 at the Roxy Pro France to determine the first four surfers in the quarterfinals. With waves pulsing all the way through the changing tide, the women later took it to the lineup to complete the fourth round as well.
Local favorite Johanne Defay (FRA), 21, continued her successful Roxy Pro France campaign with an important win this morning to skip a round and obtain her quarterfinal ticket. Defay chose her waves wisely in a tricky lineup and applied her smooth style on the clean shoulders to send defending event champion Tyler Wright (AUS) and Sage Erickson (USA) to Round 4.
“The tide was pretty low and there was a little rip in the inside and a little backwash, the smaller waves were the best with an open face whereas the sets just closed out,” Defay explained. “Tyler beat me in the semis here last year and put me in combo in the first round this year so I’m happy to get a win over her. I’ll get some rest now and prepare for the quarters.”
Coco Ho (HAW), 24, upset current Jeep leaderboard frontrunner Courtney Conlogue (USA) and 6-time WSL Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) in Round 3 to reach the quarterfinals for the first time since the Oi Rio Women’s Pro. With two disappointing early exits in the last two events, Ho’s position on the Samsung Galaxy Women’s Championship Tour is all but certain for 2016 and this result will help in her re-qualification campaign.
“I kind of wasn’t even in the heat until Steph let out my 8, I was really lucky and that’s when the ball started rolling for me,” Ho admitted. “And getting that last wave of the set to back it up was great. Courtney and Carissa in that title race are pretty close, but I’m more focused on my own game and trying to get the results that I know I can.”
Capitalizing on Conlogue’s setback, Carissa Moore (HAW), 23, seized the opportunity to send the World Title race to the last event of the season in Hawaii when she advanced into the quarters. Moore performed her surgical approach on a clean righthander with three solid turns and a little cover up for an 8.90 and the win.
“It’s crazy, balancing energies and stuff. I had such a fun time this morning in my warm up session and I didn’t want to come in but I had to keep myself at a pretty even energy level,” Moore said. “I didn’t really know how Courtney’s heat ended and I focused on myself and stayed in my own bubble. I’m happy to take the battle home to Maui.”
Conlogue would be eliminated later in the day by an in-form Tyler Wright (AUS). With Conlogue’s elimination, Moore will overtake the frontrunner position on the Jeep Leaderboard with a Semifinals berth in France.
Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow morning at 8am to assess conditions.
Surfline, official forecasters for the World Surf League (WSL), are calling for:
WNW swell mix with improved winds and conditions expected on Thursday and Friday. A smaller leftover mix lingers into Saturday before new Joaquin swell shows during the afternoon/evening. Joaquin swell for Sunday drops into early next week. Monitoring potential WNW swell for next Thursday/Friday.
The Quiksilver and Roxy Pro France is webcast LIVE on worldsurfleague.com and via the WSL app.
QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE QUARTERFINAL MATCH-UPS:
QF 1: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Italo Ferreira (BRA)
QF 2: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Bede Durbidge (AUS)
QF 3: Adriano De Souza (BRA) vs. Owen Wright (AUS)
QF 4: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. John John Florence (HAW)
QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE ROUND 5 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 16.23 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 15.07
Heat 2: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 18.30 def. Kolohe Andino (USA) 10.20
Heat 3: Owen Wright (AUS) 18.50 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 16.17
Heat 4: John John Florence (HAW) 16.80 def. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 14.87
QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE ROUND 4 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Julian Wilson (AUS) 17.37, Jadson Andre (BRA) 12.93, Kolohe Andino (USA) 10.47
Heat 2: Mick Fanning (AUS) 16.67, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 15.43, Italo Ferreira (BRA) 13.73
Heat 3: Adriano De Souza (BRA) 18.50, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 14.00, John John Florence (HAW) 13.37
Heat 4: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 19.83, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 16.00, Owen Wright (AUS) 15.56