A Bugs Eye View

To the victor go the spoils, right?
The long haul over the Atlantic provided more then ample time to reflect on the greatness of the Boost Mobile Pro, and, in keeping with the theme of not dwelling too much in the past, also gave me plenty of time to anticipate those tasty French barrels.

Having overcome the instinctive urge to have a nano-nap on the drive down from Bordeaux, and after pulling into a few crisp ones this morning, I again find myself regurgitating the Final's day at Trestles. The event had struggled thru a week of smallish, inconsistent surf but Contest Director Mike Parsons had masterfully hung tough and kept 16 surfers intact for a roll of the dice on the last day of the waiting period.

With Sean Collins of Surfline calling the shots it is not such a risk; however, being a California State Parks permit in the most popular recreational surfing amenity in the State, there was no chance of going beyond Saturday Sept 15. Whether it was due to the dodgy surf or the calibre of the wildcards or a collective loss of form on a massive scale, it had been a week of carnage at Lowers.

Don't have the stats at my fingertips but something like 12 of the Top 14 were bundled out by the 3rd round. Now that does not happen in the modern era, in fact a collective shocker by the Top 16 has not occurred since the old days at Huntington Pier, where the touring pros would ride into town for a good ol' fashioned ambush.

The only survivors were rookie sensation Jeremy Flores and the one and only Kelly Slater. With a breakthrough Top 3 finish Jeremy went a long way towards securing Rookie of the Year honours and after 15 years of Slater observations it was an absolute given that he would capitalize on his rivals miss-cues and swoop on the points as though it was offshore with no-one out.

WQS frontrunners Jordy Smith and Dane Reynolds had blasted a huge hole in the upper deck by taking out all the World Title contenders they came across. In the past both have shown a reluctance to accept wildcards, citing the fact that they did not want to mess with the title race, which kind of says, “yeah I know I'm good enough but I respect these guys and what they are trying to do.”

Now that they have made it and will take their place on the 08 Dream Tour there was no such reticence, in fact they were both quite aggressive and surfed their heats with a certain contempt for the opposition. Jordy started out by nailing Taj on an interference in their opening three man heat. Both ended up being relegated to the knockout second round but the ramifications were massive.

Taj would have won the heat but instead booked a showdown with Dane Reynolds, where he got pretty much smashed, making it a one-two punch from Jordy then Dane. Jordy then went on to eliminate Andy Irons, who was looking to advance his own title credentials.

Probably the most poignant reminder of the arrival of new super kids was the Fanning/Reynolds Rd3 encounter. Mick, who had not finished off the podium all year, started out with a solid backhand assault, netting a 7.87. Dane then manhandled a Lowers right, putting together the most astonishing array of power moves and new school shtick, all beautifully linked together with style, for a 9.93.

It was jaw dropping stuff. Mick came back and actually held a slender lead into the second half, but there wasn't a single person outside the immediate Fanning camp who didn't think Dane had his measure on this day. Of course the giant killing roles of both Dane and Jordy did eventually come to inglorious ends, {{{CJ}}} putting the sword to Dane and Jordy losing a frustratingly low scoring heat to rookie Ben Dunn.

Mick Fanning will be looking to stay in the lead
But not only had they heralded their arrival at the top level, they had also decimated the upper echelon of the world order. This of course busted down the door for others, and who should walk through but Robert Kelly Slater, who by the way has his own penguin character in Hollywood's best ever surfing effort, Surfs Up.

Kelly surfed up a storm, posting magnificent heats against Fred Pattachia, Taylor Knox and Tom Whittaker, all of whom were on fire. The Taylor match was amazing, both going blow for blow, Knox even nailing a perfect 10. Kelly's answer was to produce career best form. Yes, huge call, but I cannot {{{recall}}} seeing him surf better, which itself is a pretty scary thought when one considers he has narrowed the gap on Mick Fanning to a mere 230 points.

Pancho Sullivan had a great tournament as well. He always surfs well but a man on man final had eluded him thus far, so it was great to see the Hawaiian, who was the inaugural recipient of the Peter Whittaker Award, for excellence in human qualities, surfing ability and great sportsmanship, make it to the big playoff. It was a bit of a shame the bigger sets dried up in the Final, I'm sure Pancho would have challenged, but he now sits inside the Top 10 and is looking solid.

The Quiksilver Pro France gets underway on Friday. Good swell is forecast for the weekend so there will be no time to contemplate the importance of this one. The guys will be called to action quick smart and will find themselves in the thick of battle, hopefully in great barrels.

This event has a marvellous history of scoring epic barrels. Joel Parkinson won last year in crisp but smallish Hossegor and before that Andy Irons had a mortgage on the Quicksilver Pro, winning in insane barrels three years running. This is where he made huge moves in his 3 World Title campaigns and will surely be looking to rekindle that magic run.

He may not have got the top spot but Kelly also boasts a great record in this event, having been thereabouts in the Top 3, always threatening, since his return to the tour in 2002. Mick and Taj will be looking to put the Trestles glitch behind them and get their respective title campaigns back on the track.

Looking forward to a couple epic weeks at Hossegor and Mundaka. It's all coming down, Kelly has raised the stakes and the others want in on the deal.

For more on the ASP, The Quiksilver Pro France, The Billabong Pro Mundaka and The Foster’s ASP World Championship Tour, visit www.ASPWorldTour.com