Quiksilver Pro France: Day 1

"We had to do the dramatic heats this afternoon when it was beautiful, warm and the beach was packed. Otherwise we'd have to have them tomorrow morning when it's cold and no one's here." Contest Director, Rod Brooks

Today got interesting at 4:30pm. That's when it the light was soft, the clothes had long come off and the incoming tide made a warbly left at Les Estagnot's beach in Hossegor come to life. It also didn't hurt that Kelly Slater, Joel Parkinson, Mick Fanning and Bede Durbidge were forced to surf in do or die Round 2 of the Quiksilver Pro France. (That must be the first time that's ever happened).

They say in Florida, "if you don't like the weather wait ten minutes and it will change." Substitute the word weather for waves and you'll have an idea of what it's like to surf in France. This was day when huge tide fluctuations made the waves go from soft and weak 2 footers to, in Kieren Perrow's case, 6 foot freight train drainers - during a single heat. Perrow's wave, a well deserved 10, gave him the win over Mick Fanning in Round 1. A few hours later it was last minute replacement Gabe Kling who took down Fanning - putting an end to any hopes White Lightning had of defending his world title.

Anyway, back to 4:30pm. Kelly Slater is surfing for the only the 2nd time this year in Round 2 and he's not happy. He lost in his first heat - going down to French junior Joan Duru in a wave starved clash. Now he's up against another guy he's never surfed against and doesn't really know - local QS warrior Tim Boal. And suddenly he's got a battle on his hands as Boal racks up solid scores on shorter rights while Kelly takes his chances on the longer but more unpredictable lefts. With less than a minute to go and Kelly holding a slim lead, Boal tags a decent right three times for a 7.33 and rockets to first. What's going on here? Was all that 9th world title talk a little premature? Is Kelly really going to lose to this guy? Wait a minute, what's that? Oh, it's just Kelly falling out of the sky on a meaty overhead left. He freefalls - seemingly forever and stomps the landing. It looks like Brad Gerlach's famous backside float at the OP Pro in '91. Kelly comes in knowing he dodged a bullet. "It was really difficult to make that one," he says. "I had to land in the flats and then drive right into another turn."

As for everyone else? Well, Parko had a shocker. He got eliminated from title contention last week at the hands of Dane Reynolds at Trestles. Today he lost to Dane again in Round 1 and then to Tahitian wildcard Michel Bourez (who beat Kelly last year here) in Round 2. Bruce and Andy Irons looked utterly disinterested - scoring only 5.11 points collectively during their Round 1 heats.

Still standing are Taj Burrow and Bede Durbidge. Taj looked solid as a rock in his first surf while Bede stumbled in Round 1 but recovered nicely in Round 2. The waves tomorrow are likely to be similar to today, but things could get even more interesting on Tuesday when a bigger swell is supposed to hit.

C'est magnifique!

(1st advances to Round 3; 2nd & 3rd advance to Round 2)

Heat 1: 1- Ben Dunn, 2- Jeremy Flores, 3- Leonardo Neves
Heat 2: 1- {{{CJ}}} Hobgood, 2- Jay Thompson, 3- Daniel Ross
Heat 3: 1- Roy Powers, 2- Adriano de Souza, 3- Aritz Aranburu
Heat 4: 1- Jordy Smith, 2- Jihad Khodr, 3- Andy Irons
Heat 5: 1- Taylor Knox, 2- Bobby Martinez, 3- Ricky Basnett
Heat 6: 1- Tom Whitaker, 2- Nic Muscroft, 3- Bede Durbidge
Heat 7: 1- Dane Reynolds, 2- Joel Parkinson, 3- Michel Bourez
Heat 8: 1- Joan Duru, 2- Kelly Slater, 3- Chris Ward
Heat 9: 1- Taj Burrow, 2- Tim Reyes, 3- Tim Boal
Heat 10: 1- Kieren Perrow, 2- Mick Fanning, 3- Gabe Kling
Heat 11: 1- Travis Logie, 2- Kai Otton, 3- Mikael Picon
Heat 12: 1- Daniel Wills, 2- Heitor Alves, 3- Bruce Irons
Heat 13: 1- Rodrigo Dornelles, 2- Luke Stedman, 3- Damien Hobgood
Heat 14: 1- Adrian Buchan, 2- Tiago Pires, 3- Mick Campbell
Heat 15: 1- Pancho Sullivan, 2- Ben Bourgeois, 3- Fred Patacchia
Heat 16: 1- Dayyan Neve, 2- Royden Bryson, 3- Luke Munro

(1st advances to Round 3; 2nd finishes =33rd)

Heat 1: Kelly Slater def. Tim Boal
Heat 2: Gabe Kling def. Mick Fanning
Heat 3: Michel Bourez def. Joel Parkinson
Heat 4: Bede Durbidge def. Nic Muscroft

Heat 5: Bobby Martinez v. Ricky Basnett
Heat 6: Andy Irons v. Jihad Khodr
Heat 7: Adriano de Souza v. Aritz Aranburu
Heat 8: Jeremy Flores v. Daniel Ross
Heat 9: Kai Otton v. Leonardo Neves
Heat 10: Bruce Irons v. Mick Campbell
Heat 11: Luke Stedman v. Ben Bourgeois
Heat 12: Fred Patacchia v. Luke Munro
Heat 13: Chris Ward v. Royden Bryson
Heat 14: Tim Reyes v. Tiago Pires
Heat 15: Jay Thompson v. Damien Hobgood
Heat 16: Mikael Picon v. Heitor Alves