July. France. Surf. Us. For a moment every year, the best women longboarders in the world converge in the European vacation Mecca. In early July, Biarritz was once again plastered with Roxy posters honoring the silhouettes of Hawaiian goddesses Kelia Moniz and Crystal Dzigas. The banners caught the eye of thousands, as each day the wall at Cote De Basque was lined with Europe's travelers, waiting for the tide to drain, and the talented group of ladies to put on their show. And a show it was.
The first day of the waiting period was blessed with a lack of waves and an abundance of sun, giving us all an opportunity to get crisp for the promised next three days of competition. Though the contest was postponed for the day, nearly every competitor hung around to play in the surf and be a part of the majestic beach day that you can only imagine. That night, the brilliant Lee Ann Curren blessed a Keep-A-Breast Foundation Function with an amazing acoustic set, where she and a couple of friends sang original songs, as well as a funky rap remix. The night ended with a premiere in the Town Centre of the new women's film Dear and Yonder.
The following two days were met with excitement and disappointment, as the fickle waves and tough early match-ups lead to the elimination of the reigning champ, Joy Monahan, and the current U.S. Champ Cori Schumacher. But incredible performances by Chelsea Williams and Coline Menard set the stage for the last day of competition.
Meanwhile, those unfortunate souls eliminated from the concert were treated to a number of celebrations, to be remembered most by the song and dance of Michael Jackson. The annual concert at the Port Veiux was forced to be cancelled due to dangerous winds and heavy rain, leaving the much-anticipated performance by Santigold to be only a dream in our minds.
The main show began the next morning with a new swell and a group of surf-hungry competitors. The day started with the French Semifinal, featuring Justine Dupont and Coline Menard. Justine's elongated shortboard roundhouses kicked off the heat, but in the end they were not enough to surpass Coline's stylistic noserides and controlled cutbacks. Coline spent the last six months traveling the coast of Australia, away from her home in Reunion Island. Her dedication paid off and she soon found herself in the Final of the World Championships.
The second semi-final was a heat to remember, as the only two surfers to place third or better every year in France, once again battled for a shot at the title. Australian Champ Chelsea Williams was looking for her first win, as her previous results include two second-place and two third-place finishes. But on her way to the Final, she encountered the most consistent competitor the Roxy Jam has ever seen, Jennifer Smith. The San Diego local once again found herself in a familiar place after scoring a 9.25 somewhat early in the heat. Chelsea battled hard, but couldn't find that wave that would allow her talent to shine. She once again saw her dream of the cup go down drain. For Jen, this was the World Title heat.
The action remained entertaining between the Semis and Finals, as 16 of the competitors slipped neoprene dresses over their heads and put on a show for the expression session. There were incredible rides to be photographed and silly maneuvers that won awards, but in the end, the joy of surfing was expressed to the crowd of thousands, and the eliminated were once again brought to life.
In the Final, Jen Smith took an early lead that was never to be caught by the young French competitor. Though Coline was treated as the champ by her French home, the crowd surrounded Smith, and she once again found herself on the highest step of the podium. Speechless, she graciously teared as she accepted her trophy in front of an excited crowd at the Cote De Basque.
The end of the spectacular week will be remembered by many, for the sights and sounds the girls hoisting both Smith and Menard, chanting their names, down the streets of the Bastille celebration.