2005 Quiksilver Pro France Day 3 Report


SURF: Squareness. I thought La Graviere could be the heaviest beachbreak in the world until I saw La Nord today.
EVENTS HELD: Heats 1-9 of Round 3
NATURE'S CALL: A bit smaller tomorrow, but still shacking.
PREDICTED: Kelly may not have gotten it today, but trust us: it's coming soon.

Kelly's heat with Jeremy Flores is starting. The mood is relaxed, mellow. Everyone – even Jeremy's many friends and supporters on the beach, including probably Jeremy himself, expects this to be a walkover for the Man. After all Flores just turned 17, weighs 138 pounds and, making matters worse, in a week of crazy waves, the surf is going absolutely MENTAL today. How nuts is it? In the morning 8 tow in teams are roaming out to sea as the vast expanse of Hossegor's outer sandbars are checking in at a Hawaiian 8-10 feet. It's still not as big as last year's epic final day, but it's pretty damn big. When the tide fills in at La Nord ({{{200}}} yards south of the main site at La Graviere) the inside reform starts detonating like, (in the words of Dane Reynolds who won his Round 3 heat against 2001 world champ {{{CJ}}} Hobgood by getting a screamer at the horn) "the shorebreak at Huntington times 20."

Anyway, the point is Jeremy has every reason to roll over, but sacks up instead. First wave – super critical drop on 8 foot grinding left. Flores gets to the bottom, and the thing rolls over the inside bar and gets EVEN BIGGER. The kid pulls in, the curtain drops and, oh my god, he comes screaming out. The crowed erupts – everyone is shocked. Hold on, could this spindly little guy actually beat the King? The score: 9.17. A heavy peanut gallery of Taj, Occy, Bruce et al. are not happy. "That was a 10," says Taj. "That was the best wave I've seen all day."

Kelly roams around the shifty lineup and gets a few backup waves, but buckles a new 6-3 on a growler. Todd Kline hands him his magical 6-1 Simon Anderson and he paddles back out.

Kelly grabs a solid right and drives around a thick, foamy caf au lait section and pulls into a pinching barrel for three seconds and remarkably muscles his way out. The score: 9.77 – higher than Jeremy's wave. Whoa. The peanut gallery is fuming – the grumbles from Trestles and Japan that Kelly gets pushes from the panel are back. Peterson Rosa flips off the judges and cries of "bulls-t" are again heard just as they were at the T.5:19pm
Jeremy needs a 6 and charges into the triple up section of a wave that, if he makes it, is a 10 for sure. It's got to be one of the heaviest waves ever surfed in France. He pulls in, disappears, going, going – gone. He pops up after taking a gnarly beating and waves to the crowd. Kid's a born showman. Knows how to rise to the occasion, but Kelly has two solid waves to Jeremy's one and Kelly's on to Round 4. A battle and a fair result.

Kelly's in the competitors' area looking at the buckled 6-3 and the Simon Anderson 6-1. "I had to work my ass off out there," he says. Then he sees Flores walking on the sand below him. "Rad heat, Jeremy," Kelly says."I hope you win," Jeremy replies.5:33pm
Maz Quinn, surfing against Andy Irons, exits out the front of a slamming tube and gets a 8.33. Andy's only sitting on a 1.83. There's ages left in the heat, but suddenly a whole bunch of folks in the know rush to the ASP's Al Hunt all asking the same question:"If Andy loses this heat, will Kelly clinch the world title?"The answer: YES.

Kelly begins to stress backstage
There's only 6 minutes left in the heat and Andy's still behind. The beach is and the backstage area is going nuts. The secret's out. Everyone knows this could be it. Frantic meetings organized on the fly between various big wigs are taking place about how the celebration is going to be handled. No one expected it would be today and everyone's scrambling. Kelly tries to watch the heat but his every facial expression and gesture is recorded by a million cameras. The attention overload finally gets to him. "All of you just need to step back and give me some f–king room here," he says. He rushes downstairs and finds two pre-adolescent French girls who've adorned themselves with his name. "I love these girls," he says. "They come here and dress like this for me every year." He starts to tear up as more shutters click – then rushes back up the stairs to watch the rest of the heat.5:47pm
Andy does a nice snap on a left and gets barreled inside for 7.83. Now he only needs a 2.51 to pull ahead. 5:49pm
But his next wave is a closeout – a 1.83. As the seconds tick away Quinn is still in the driver's seat. 5:51pm
Andy and Maz both get waves at the end of the heat. Andy does a vert snap and a couple nice turns on a right while Maz digs on a rail on his final turn on a left. Andy wins the heat by .43. He's still alive. No world title for Kelly today.The contest is mercifully called off. Phew. Everyone is emotionally drained from the drama. People walk away not knowing what to say. "Why couldn't Maz have just made that last turn?" asks Kelly.Bruce Irons looks at him consolingly. "That was just a fire drill," he says.The four alarm blaze could come tomorrow.

Slater bonds with his fans
(1st place advances to Round 4; 2nd finishes =17th)Heat # 1: Dane Reynolds def. CJ Hobgood
Heat # 2: Victor Ribas def. Danny Wills
Heat # 3: Luke Egan def. Kalani Robb
Heat # 4: Phil MacDonald def. Patrick Beven
Heat # 5: Damien Hobgood def. Tim Curran
Heat # 6: Luke Stedman def. Dean Morrison
Heat # 7: Paulo Moura def. Michael Lowe
Heat # 8: Kelly Slater def. Jeremy Flores
Heat # 9: Andy Irons def. Maz Quinn
Heat #10: Mark Occhilupo def. Lee Winkler
Heat #11: Cory Lopez def. Shea Lopez
Heat #12: Bruce Irons def. Raoni Monteiro
Heat #13: Taj Burrow def. Mikael Picon
Heat #14: Peterson Rosa def. Chris Ward
Heat #15: Nathan Hedge def. Guilherme Herdy
Heat #16: Jake Paterson def. Tim ReyesUPCOMING ROUND 4 HEATS:
(1st place advances to Quarterfinals; 2nd finishes =9th)Heat # 1: Dane Reynolds v. Victor Ribas
Heat # 2: Luke Egan v. Phil MacDonald
Heat # 3: Damien Hobgood v. Luke Stedman
Heat # 4: Paulo Moura v. Kelly Slater
Heat # 5: Andy Irons v. Mark Occhilupo
Heat # 6: Cory Lopez v. Bruce Irons
Heat # 7: Taj Burrow v. Peterson Rosa
Heat # 8: Nathan Hedge v. Jake Paterson