Despite a bloated tide that marred the opening heats, conditions proved to be contestable enough for the Quik Pro France at La Graviere to complete the opening round.
Setting the bar for the morning, Brazil's Jadson Andre opened up Round 1 with an impressive multiple-section right-hand tube to the tune of a 7.5. Entering the European leg of the tour seated in 15th place, Jadson was looking for a solid start to build momentum through France and Portugal. And with his Round 1 win today over Joel Parkinson and John Florence, that's exactly what the young Brazilian did.
"I was really looking to get a good start out here," said Jadson, "but I try not to think about it too much. I just want to do my best and pick the best waves in each heat."
Statistically one of the most dominant surfers in the event, Mick Fanning redefined precision surfing in his opening heat against Brett Simpson and Tiago Pires. Seamlessly mixing tuberiding and high-speed rail work to a convincing Round 1 win, it was easy to see how Mick became a three-time event champion here in the past. To boot, he posted the day's highest heat total with a blistering 18.20.
"You have to be able to adapt in France," Mick told the ASP. "The wave changes so much and shows you so many different faces. I have a great board now that Simon (Anderson) shaped for me, and it felt really good out there. Looks like there will be waves throughout the waiting period and I'm looking forward to the next heat."
In what was perhaps the most-anticipated-but-lackluster-heat of the first round, Dane Reynolds once again donned a jersey to face Owen Wright and Chris Davidson. Having been on a hiatus from competition for the season, Dane was said to be competing today on injured ribs. With the collective eyes of surf fans around the world honed on Dane and expecting fireworks, the lineup had other plans and flatlined, forcing a restart to the heat. When a set finally materialized, it was Owen Wright who proved to be the aggressor, catching nearly twice as many waves as Davo and Dane. And although Owen didn't look quite as lethal as he has in the past few events, he still managed to put a decent heat together and convincingly took the win. As hungry for a win as Owen looked in their match-up, Dane appeared equally nonchalant. Had it not been for a Hail Mary of a full-rotation slob air in the dying moments of the heat that earned him an 8.33, Dane would have finished a much-more distant second to Owen.
"I'm riding a bigger board than I rode at Trestles and New York," says Owen, "and I think I was having trouble biting into the wave. The heat was a little slow, but I caught some waves, but I just kept falling. I guess I'm just a little bit rusty, but it feels good to get that opening heat out of the way."
Also competing with a rib injury, South Africa's Jordy Smith surfed his first World Tour heat today since sustaining an injury in Tahiti last month. In fine fashion, Jordy took the win over wildcard Marc Lacomare and Kieren Perrow in Round 1.
"It's so good to be back," said Jordy to the ASP. "I'm not 100 percent at the moment--about 75 percent. It still hurts to lie down on my board and paddle, but it's time for me to be back in the water. I want to be here and I'm happy to have come away with a win in my first heat back."
By noon, the high tide had completely filled in, leaving fat, shifting lefts and rights in its wake just in time for Slater, Fred Patacchia, and Moroccan wildcard surfer Ramzi Boukhiam's Round 1 heat. Even for Slater, the conditions proved to be nearly too difficult. But despite the trying tides, the current World Tour No. 1 still managed to pull off a win.
"It was a nightmare out there," Slater said. "I wouldn't be surprised if they called it out there. The tide is really high. It was a bummer and not very competitive. That's the way France is sometimes though. Sometimes it's on, sometimes it's off."
Closing out the day, contest officials opted to run three heats of the second round. In his match-up against Adriano de Souza, Dane Reynolds looked to have ironed out some of the kinks from the morning as he edged himself to a convincing win.
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QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE ROUND 1 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Taylor Knox (USA) 11.06, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 10.77, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 10.57
Heat 2: Jadson Andre (BRA) 11.17, John John Florence (HAW) 9.13, Joel Parkinson (AUS) 8.00
Heat 3: Mick Fanning (AUS) 18.20, Brett Simpson (USA) 15.33, Tiago Pires (PRT) 12.33
Heat 4: Owen Wright (AUS) 12.60, Dane Reynolds (USA) 12.26, Chris Davidson (AUS) 2.50
Heat 5: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 10.10, Marc Lacomare (FRA) 9.83, Kieren Perrow (AUS) 2.93
Heat 6: Kelly Slater (USA) 10.00, Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 9.00, Ramzi Boukhiam (MOR) 2.00
Heat 7: Taj Burrow (AUS) 11.53, Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 10.83, Kai Otton (AUS) 6.83
Heat 8: Julian Wilson (AUS) 15.43, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 6.80, Dusty Payne (HAW) 3.16
Heat 9: Travis Logie (ZAF) 13.03, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 10.26, Gabriel Medina (BRA) 7.60
Heat 10: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 11.26, Daniel Ross (AUS) 9.39, Heitor Alves (BRA) N/S
Heat 11: Michel Bourez (PYF) 16.00, Alejo Muniz (BRA) 11.53, Miguel Pupo (BRA) 7.83
Heat 12: Damien Hobgood (USA) 11.90, Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 5.93, Josh Kerr (AUS) 4.33
QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE ROUND 2 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Ramzi Boukhiam (MOR) 9.20 def. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 8.84
Heat 2: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 12.67 def. Marc Lacomare (FRA) 7.50
Heat 3: Dane Reynolds (USA) 14.06 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 10.60
QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE REMAINING ROUND 2 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 4: Josh Kerr (AUS) vs. Tiago Pires (PRT)
Heat 5: Alejo Muniz (BRA) vs. John John Florence (HAW)
Heat 6: Heitor Alves (BRA) vs. Kai Otton (AUS)
Heat 7: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 8: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Daniel Ross (AUS)
Heat 9: Raoni Monteiro (BRA) vs. Miguel Pupo (BRA)
Heat 10: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) vs. Patrick Gudauskas (USA)
Heat 11: Brett Simpson (USA) vs. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW)
Heat 12: Chris Davidson (AUS) vs. Kieren Perrow (AUS)