Guess who's back? Is it a surprise? He had moments of magic during the US Open and he put out video after video after video this summer. Had he not cracked a rib in Japan we would've seen him in New York and Trestles, but now he's getting better and he's here, making his 2011 World Tour debut at the Quiksilver Pro France, ladies and gentlemen, mesdames et messieurs, Dane Reynolds!
Truth be told, he was a little shaky in the beginning of Round 1 and went down to an always in-form Owen Wright -- but Dane somehow whipped a big rotating slob in offshore wind at the end of the heat, and that was a sign of things to come. In Round 2 against Adriano he went below sea level on a thick Oxnard-ish overheard left, grabbed his rail on his bottom turn and threw down the biggest backside hacks of the day.
What about the other big dogs? Jordy, coming back from an injury similar to Dane's, looked more tentative but still had enough to win in Round 1. Kelly also struggled in inconsistent high tide conditions, while Julian Wilson, who's really come on over the past few events, did an absolutely ridiculous tail slide at full speed and backed it up with another wave where he kept the rail buried. Watch him this contest, he's got the full package now and could be a dark horse pick to win.Mick pumped through the best tubes of day to move through to Round 3, but Parko saw his world title hopes for this year evaporate when he went down to Jadson Andre in Round 1 and then to Moroccan trials winner Ramzi Boukhiam in Round 2 in what has to be one of the biggest upsets, well, ever.
But when the sky is blue, the wind is offshore and the surf is 4- to 6-foot, France has a lot more to offer than just watching heats all day. Craig Anderson, Dion Agius and CJ Hobgood were on the hunt and found a long bending left that was doing its best impression of St. Leu in Reunion Island. Then, near dark, when the onshore came up, groms Kanoa Igarashi and Mitch Parkinson, Joel's nephew, tore into a right wedge that could be one of the best air waves in the world. Variety is the spice of life and France delivers it like nowhere else. If you're bored here, you're dead. --Jamie Tierney