Surf: Overhead. Hollow ledgers at low, shred-worthy lines at high
Events held: Men’s Round Two, and four heats of round three
Nature’s call: You’re all a bunch of stress cases
Predicted: More of the same, a tad smaller
When ratings leader, Andy Irons, said, “I’m laughing” after his unsightly first-round loss four days ago, apparently he wasn’t kidding. As the tour awoke early this morning to a crisp, light offshore sailing down from the Pyrenees, he was on it, eager to prove his nonchalance. With the tide at a negative low and the swell a mix of wind and south, the bank of choice La Gravi’ere was a caldron of exploding whitewater and thick, heaving slabs that suited the reigning world champ to a tee. At that time you could hardly pick out the L-shaped bank that had spurred ASP officials to a 10 a.m. call; there was just too much water rushing through.

But along with Andy, there was also Parkinson and Fanning out sniffing around with their noses close to the source, tuning in with the sand and its particular bend. With furious consistency the set waves would break out back, forming a foaming, rolling Haleiwa kind of wave. Then, if you’d had the right eye, you might’ve been able to tell that some of them could reform into a nice, open tube. Andy and his partners have that eye, and it’s one they weren’t taking for granted. All three would be up against European wildcards, and this was the round where, if you lose, it’s a dead last: equal 33rd! But for the seeds, they proved that wasn’t an option, as these three of the world’s top five would make fine work of Portugal’s Tiago Pires, Canary Islands’ Jonathon Gonzales and Frenchman Mikey Picon. The three Old World surfers ripped, of course, but they were force-fed a horrible memory serum of exactly why the ratings are the way they are. No doubt, of the three superheats, the first case was the worse. Tiago Pires surfed admirably strong, but Andy was a muscle supreme, threading tubes and linking speed, blurring airs with power to spare. In the last minutes, when he set the arm-brake for a solid 6-foot backdoor drain, it was no surprise that ASP pres, Bugs Bartholomew practically fell out of his seat to say, “And that’s why he’s the world champ!”

The only surprising thing was how modest Mr. Irons was once on the beach. Everyone wanted to ask him about it, him being last year’s event champ and all, we all wanted to know how he felt and all he could say was, “It’s so gooood out there.” That and stand around in his suit an extra hour in the freezing breeze, smiling hugely, shaking hands, and watching proudly his two ruling peers. This ambassador status was really so gracious, that it became obvious it could only mean one of two things: either he was faking it, or has a lot more still in store.— Hagan KelleyQuiksilver Pro France Round Two Heats (1st>Rnd 3; 2nd=33rd receivesUS$3,000){{{H1}}}: Andy Irons (Haw) 18.5 def. Tiago Pires (Port) 10.66
{{{H2}}}: Joel Parkinson (Aus) 13.17 def. Jonathan Gonzalez (Canary Is.) 11.34
{{{H3}}}: Mick Fanning (Aus) 15.6 def. Miky Picon (Fra) 12.17
H4: Kieren Perrow (Aus) 13.5 def. Tim Curran (USA) 10.84
H5: Luke Egan (Aus) 14.83 def. Tom Whitaker (Aus) 4.33
H6: Fabio Gouveia (Brz) 16.17 def. Dean Morrison (Aus) 13.17
H7: Beau Emerton (Aus) 10.93 def. Cory Lopez (USA) 8.33
H8: Michael Lowe (Aus) 13.84 def. Danilo Costa (Brz) 12.9
H9: Taylor Knox (USA) 14.6 def. Darren O’Rafferty (Aus) 11.0
H10: Flavio Padaratz (Brz) 14.04 def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 13.77
H11: Mark Occhilupo (Aus) 11.67 def. Luke Hitchings (Aus) 3.33
H12: Richie Lovett (Aus) 16.24 def. Lee Winkler (Aus) 15.67
H13: Phil MacDonald (Aus) 15.67 def. Jake Paterson (Aus) 11.5
H14: Peterson Rosa (Brz) 12.7 def. Kalani Robb (Haw) 10.0
H15: Trent Munro (Aus) 15.5 def. Neco Padaratz (Brz) 10.76
H16: Victor Ribas (Brz) 12.83 def. Pat O’Connell (USA) 11.63
Round Three (1st>Rnd4; 2nd=17th receives US$4,000)
H1: Mick Fanning (Aus) 16.33 def. Toby Martin (Aus) 7.43
H2: Danny Wills (Aus) 17.17 def. Shane Powell (Aus) 9.63
H3: Guilherme Herdy (Brz) 13.27 def. Richie Lovett (Aus) 6.76
H4: Taj Burrow (Aus) 19.26 def. Luke Stedman (Aus) 11.83