Quik Pro France: Float like a jellyfish, sting like a wasp

Cass Selwood
Form Guide

The swell has definitely arrived this morning and so hungry were the assembled freesurfers that the contest organisers had trouble clearing the peak in the lead up to the first heat of the men’s Round 1. The jetski drivers were eventually issued with cattle prods and the rabble was driven grudgingly northwards.

The forerunners of today’s waves arrived just after lunch yesterday, thankfully before the onshore winds. Sitting out the back at around 2pm, it seemed a funny, disjointed swell. I hadn’t seen a great deal of sea life during my infrequent ventures into the surf here, until yesterday, when a plague of jellyfish descended on this little stretch of coastline. Interesting note: Apparently the collective noun for jellyfish is a Fluther. Apparently Stu Kennedy copped one in the head during a lay-day freesurf - just an individual mind you, not the whole fluther. Apparently it didn’t affect his surfing much, as you’ll find out later in the report.

Dangerous animals are not the first things that spring to mind when you think of France, particularly in a surfing context (jellyfish being the exception). However, at one point while I was struggling to catch a wave yesterday, I swear I heard the opening bars of Ride of the Valkyries ringing across the water, so I turned towards the beach and coming towards me was a hornet the size of my thumb, bobbing around, its engines sputtering. It flew up and land squarely on my chest, clearly exhausted and probably regretting its decision to fly out to sea. I was not altogether pleased with its choice of perch, especially after a set wave washed through, forcing me to paddle for the horizon. The frelon, as they’re known around here, also uncomfortable with the situation, decided higher ground was called for and proceeded to crawl upwards, using my neck as a ladder to reach my scalp, where it settled in.

My neighbour, a young Frenchman, found the situation pretty amusing. “You don’t like it?” he asked. “Don’t worry, if it sting you, you can go to l’hospital.”

Yeah, merci mon ami. Helpful. Thankfully I survived the encounter with nothing more than a stiff neck and French mockery ringing in my ears.

But enough about me, we’re here for the comp…

The pros must be stoked after the last couple of contests to have waves of this calibre to play with, but I’m pretty sure they didn’t expect to also be competing against the jetski crew. First it was Stu Kennedy testing out the structural integrity of those Tomo boards. He climbed aboard expecting to be ferried out beyond the break, but instead he was forced to cling to the sled with white knuckles while the driver attempted a floater in the shorebreak, leaving them both beached. Stu abandoned ship at this point and spent the paddle back out alternately shaking his head in disbelief and checking over his board for damage.

The next ski incident involved a yellow-shirted Jordy Smith. The driver collected him from the whitewash then chose to play chicken with an approaching set. He was gunning for it, then, maybe realising he had the ratings leader in his care, pulled out at the last second. I think Jordy was so disappointed in the driver’s lack of courage that he let go of the handles and flew backwards into the lip at high velocity. The wind turned onshore momentarily as 5000 people on the beach inhaled in unison.

Jordy jumping ship

Thankfully both surfers emerged unscathed from their respective mishaps and even went on to snatch first round victories, earning themselves a rest while two thirds of the field entered the fighting pits of the second round (last GOT reference, I promise).

Mind you, I’m not suggesting that the ski riders are actively trying to maim the competitors - not all of them anyway. They’ve got a tough job in these fickle beach breaks. At one point in Heat 10 all three surfers had caught waves and were either sitting or lying on the back of a ski, wanting to get back out to catch some more waves. But the ocean wasn’t having any of it. A giant set of 8-10 waves washed through. From where I was standing on the verandah of the media box I could just see blue water beyond where the waves were breaking, but from the surfers’ perspective at sea level it would have been all white to the horizon. They lost almost five minutes trying to get back out and the skis were almost out of view, both north and south, as they sought a passage through to the peak.

My favourite competitive moment from Round 1 was not Italo Ferreira’s opening rotation (9.5) or TwoJohn’s giant slob air (what does that even mean?). No, it came in the fourth heat of the round when the siren sounded and rookie Ethan Ewing came away with the win, just outscoring Brazilian Caio Ibelli. Ethan, a 19yo from North Stradbroke Island, is in a pretty serious battle to retain his place in the WCT and he hasn't backed himself up on the QS, so he needs every heat win he can get. Even this non-elimination victory has to have given him a bit more confidence going into the rest of this comp and the run into Hawaii and he looked stoked as he wandered back into the competitors’ area. He’ll be back in Round 3 to see if he can keep up the momentum into the later rounds.

Round 2 was, of course, a bloody affair full of disappointment and relief in equal measure. Having seen him up close, I've realised that local wildcard Marc Lacomare is built a bit like a gladiator and he put his Channel Islands axe to the heart of Julian Wilson. Our Jules, who came into the event in third place and already carrying two throwaway 13th places, wasn’t happy with the 25th place result. It's a big blow for a title aspirer and just by winning their Round 1 heats, Jordy and TwoJohns - numbers 1 and 2 in the world - put some clear air between themselves and Jules. Jules now has his work cut out for him now if he has any hope of wearing the crown at the end of the season.

Others who won’t be progressing include… nah, forget it. You don’t need me to tell you who won and who lost. You can check out all the results on the WSL website and watch it all wave for wave.

Filipe is the only man to have won two events this year, but some poor results in other contests, a brain fade in Brazil and now a rib injury here in France have put paid to his title chase. He looked like he was genuinely in pain while preparing for his heat, and as someone who spent three months or more recovering from a rib injury earlier this year, I felt for him, but his heat against fellow Brazilian Miguel Pupo, who is also carrying an injury and also fighting to hold on to his spot on the CT, was underwhelming at best. There were no J'Bay gymnastics here.

Miguel will meet another of the Brazilian contingent, De Souza, in Round 3. Sitting in sixth on the rankings, Adriano is turning every encounter into a challenge as he tries to calibrate his title chase, even applying his blank-faced determination to a post-heat interview with Rosy Hodge. The mental effort it must have taken him not to smile, or even blush a little bit, in the face of our favourite female commentator betrays a serious competitor - or an automaton, you choose. Either way, ADS took down Josh Kerr to progress.

ADS and Rosy in happier times

If ADS is emotionless, then Josh Kerr is pretty pissed off. He's sitting just a spot higher than Ethan Ewing at 35th, yet he’s in the best form he’s shown in years. He just can’t clear the first couple of rounds. At least he’s having fun watching his daughter Sierra develop into a little ripper in her own right. She was here today carrying his boards and seems to have built her own fan club. The fans wanted more selfies with her than with her dad. At one point Rosy interviewed Sierra and aked what advice she's giving her Dad. "Complete your turns!" said Sierra. Dad didn't so it's another 25th.

Mick made it through to Round 3 and kept his hunt for a fifth Quik Pro France title against my other favourite rookie, Zeke Lau. I love the young Hawaiian’s brand of committed rail-to-rail surfing I’m gutted that he had to come up against Mick so early, because if I had my ‘druthers, neither would have had to suffer the indignity of a Round 2 exit.  Ah well, in a perfect world…

So, that’s day one of the men’s comp all wrapped. Next call 8am tomorrow. Until then…

//CASS SELWOOD

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

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

Comments

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Friday, 13 Oct 2017 at 9:07am

Only watched the JJF, Jordy, Joan heats live, but in the context of Rd 1 surfing - usually boring and creaky - that was some great viewing.

dewhurst's picture
dewhurst's picture
dewhurst commented Friday, 13 Oct 2017 at 9:42am

Jordy vs Marc Lacomare and John John vs Ethan Ewing coming up in Round 2 are going to be good contests. Local wildcard and nice guy underdog against the big guns.

dewhurst's picture
dewhurst's picture
dewhurst commented Friday, 13 Oct 2017 at 9:42am

Round 3!

helmet-not-hose's picture
helmet-not-hose's picture
helmet-not-hose commented Friday, 13 Oct 2017 at 11:09am

Magicseaweed says there's a big swell coming which should hit before the finals. The skis are going to get a workout.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Friday, 13 Oct 2017 at 11:15am

Ah yes! Craig mentioned that large swell eight days ago in his early Forecast Notes.

https://www.swellnet.com/news/swellnet-analysis/2017/10/05/quiksilver-pr...

surfstarved's picture
surfstarved's picture
surfstarved commented Saturday, 14 Oct 2017 at 4:40am

Sunday's looking like the pick of the days until the end of the waiting period, so I'm predicting they'll finish the men's round 4 and the women's finals tomorrow, then run the last of the men's on Sunday morning. Let's see what the WSL honchos have to say about it.

Don't let the bastards grind you down

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Friday, 13 Oct 2017 at 12:57pm

Yep, but we've got two large swells now. One from the low mentioned and another from ex-Hurricane Ophelia.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Friday, 13 Oct 2017 at 1:04pm

Ophelia is very impressive but the storm track (relative to Hossegor) isn't good. Brittany will probably cop some very large waves (and Portugal, plus UK/Ireland etc) but Spain and SW France will probably see a much smaller, very brief pulse from this system. 

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay commented Friday, 13 Oct 2017 at 11:34am

Josh Kerr was so stupidly underscored in round one, while Mr Three Identical Stock Backhand Reos somehow has the judges wrapped around his finger.
Waves were beautiful, and there was some incredible surfing (Joan Duru!), but the judging is threatening to ruin it, imho.

spaceman's picture
spaceman's picture
spaceman commented Friday, 13 Oct 2017 at 12:15pm

A "SMACK" of Jellyfish was my understanding of the collective noun of those blubberous beasties. ;)

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Friday, 13 Oct 2017 at 12:18pm

It's always been a flotilla of jellyfish at my end.

Or an armada if the attack is particularly large.

crg's picture
crg's picture
crg commented Friday, 13 Oct 2017 at 1:12pm

Either a murder of crows or a parliament of owls has been my favourite collective noun.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Friday, 13 Oct 2017 at 1:34pm

I've always been perplexed by the term 'gaggle of nuns'. Just Googled to double check, and it turns out that 'according to Oxford Dictionaries, a group of nuns is known as a superfluity'.

Which is kinda ironic in this day and age.

crg's picture
crg's picture
crg commented Friday, 13 Oct 2017 at 1:46pm

Ha!
Nuns unnecessary? What about the Christian brother? They must be doomed as well...

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf commented Friday, 13 Oct 2017 at 2:18pm

Thank heavens, many a young chap still has trouble when groin massage is mentioned after being schooled by those psychos (speaking from experience).

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Friday, 13 Oct 2017 at 1:43pm

A shitload of Jelly fish is the common Australian term

Ada gula, ada semut!

Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone commented Friday, 13 Oct 2017 at 8:15pm

that board punch. I understand the frustration but I wonder where it came from? That he didn't stick that air (which wouldn't of got the score) or simply the loss?

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Friday, 13 Oct 2017 at 10:10pm

The memo from head office must be to explain to Quik Pro viewers what being in combo is. I've heard it described half a dozen times, they've even made up a handy little graphic, and technical Pete Mel told us not to get confused with "a combination of turns which is also called a combo."

Reminds me of when they went to great lengths to explain what goofy and natural footers are.

No word of what a highline wrap is yet.

surfstarved's picture
surfstarved's picture
surfstarved commented Saturday, 14 Oct 2017 at 4:34am

Ah yes, the old elusive highline wrap. I'll try to corner Turpel and get the lowdown on the HLW (as it's known in the business). I noticed Pottz has started using the term too. It's only a matter of time before it enters the lexicon, despite the fact that nobody actually knows what the eff it is.

Don't let the bastards grind you down

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Friday, 13 Oct 2017 at 10:25pm

Those are some tasty closeouts. Surfers who develop in soul destroying closeouts must be thrilled to see the best in the world tackle these challenging conditions. And the mark of the best surfer on the beach is not who is most stoked, it's who can take off on the biggest closeout.

surfstarved's picture
surfstarved's picture
surfstarved commented Saturday, 14 Oct 2017 at 4:37am

There were some seriously tasty clouseouts being attempted today VJ, attested to by the procession of snapped boards past the contest site.

Don't let the bastards grind you down

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Saturday, 14 Oct 2017 at 11:49am

A caveat; as the tide dropped it did get better. Around these parts the beachies don't generally like the lowest of tides (reefs become the option) so it's interesting to see a beach setup that seems to work in reverse.

Reefeater's picture
Reefeater's picture
Reefeater commented Saturday, 14 Oct 2017 at 8:24am

There is talk on one of the other websites about how they are looking at wrapping it up tomorrow ...............surely not with what's coming .

surfstarved's picture
surfstarved's picture
surfstarved commented Saturday, 14 Oct 2017 at 6:28pm

They keep putting off the call and putting off the call. Frankly, I'll be surprised if they hit the water today, the way it's looking at the moment. I'm hoping that tomorrow will bring it all back online.

Don't let the bastards grind you down

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Saturday, 14 Oct 2017 at 9:15am

I watched quite a few heats last night and then lots of the heat analyser this morning and IMO the conditions looked fairly good for a contest in beach breaks there was a bit of everything on offer sure there was one or two slow heats and even turned to close outs for a bit, but thats just the style of the beach the tide affects waves quite a bit not just water depth but even rip direction and strength can turn the beach on and off within minutes. (very similar to my local)

Ada gula, ada semut!