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SLATER AND IRONS DOMINATE WHILE WILDCARDS CAUSE HAVOC IN ROUND ONE, QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE
News provided by ASP World Tour on 24 September 2005
As the swell built to a solid two metres (six foot) throughout the day, surfing fans were treated to an outstanding day of action today at the Quiksilver Pro France presented by Samsung.
Seeing everything from deep tube riding to massive aerial manoeuvres on the waves at La Graviere, Hossegor, the beach would erupt many times throughout the heats as they urged competitors to push the limits.
In a day of mixed results for the top seeds, victories were locked in by ratings leaders Kelly Slater (USA) and Andy Irons (HAW) while wildcards Patrick Beven (FRA) and Mikael Picon (FRA) upset Australians Trent Munro (AUS) and Mick Fanning (AUS) who sit at four and three on the ratings respectively.
Keeping “his pedal to the metal” was six-time Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour champ Slater, who notched up the highest total score of the day, a 17.33 out of 20 after he totally demolished nearly every wave he rode.
Taking off amazingly deep on grinding beachbreak waves, Slater would slot inside barrels and emerge at will while in between he’d bash lips and execute large floaters.
“I thought I’d just paddle out and get a few barrels,” said a relaxed Slater. “I knew there were some great waves out there and I managed to score about four really good ones. It was funny when Andy paddled out for the next heat as he said to me: ‘It looks like Backdoor! [Pipeline, Hawaii]’”
For this event, where the crowd worships their surfing idols, Slater elected to lay low in order to stay focussed on the heat and the title race.
“I’m trying to stay away from everybody,” said Slater. “I haven’t really been surfing and have just been staying in my apartment by myself because at this event I do feel it a little bit with all the cameras on me and all the people around. I know I still have to get through a few more heats and if I don’t I’m expecting Andy to come from behind, win three events and beat me. At worst I believe that Andy will make the semi finals here given that he is the reigning event champion and I just can’t afford to make any mistakes.”
Again indicating that he won’t let Slater have a walk through here in France, Irons scored a 9.8 out of 10 looking completely at home on every wave. Realising that he can’t hold back if he wants to win he pulled no punches when he defeated Taylor Knox (USA) and Maz Quinn (NZ).
“I love it here for both the crowd and the waves,” said Irons. “I love the beach breaks because I grew up surfing similar type waves at home and these are some of the best beach breaks in the world so to get it on here… it’s such a pleasure to surf.”
Irons was looking relaxed and was showing no signs of pressure as he cruised into round three after taking the win. (Surfers who win in round one move straight through to round three while second and third surf in round two.)
“I’m really happy with the way the year is going,” Irons continued. “I’m actually really happy with where my life is right now. Just staying in the running is always good and Kelly’s had an amazing year without any mistakes. I’m not feeling any pressure though and just want to go out and surf.”
Causing upsets today were French wildcards Patrick Beven and Mikael Picon. Beven defeated ratings number four Trent Munro (AUS) and veteran charger Brazilian Peterson Rosa while Picon defeated number three-rated Mick Fanning (AUS) and Richie Lovett (AUS). Both were ecstatic with their wins and were looking to continue to topple the big names.
“I did the same thing two years ago and I hope to do the same this year,” said Beven. “I was just sitting there feeling no pressure and knew I needed big waves and luckily they came to me. It doesn’t matter to me who I surf against. I’ll just be happy and will do my best.”
Picon had similar sentiments although in his heat quality waves were scarce and total scores were perhaps the lowest of the day.
“I was happy to beat Mick because earlier this year at the Quiksilver Pro on the Gold Coast he smashed me on his home break,” said Picon. “And today we are on my beach! I had one good wave where I got a tube on my backside and I didn’t grab the rail so I was stoked. It was the best feeling to have the public with me also and that will help in the next round.”
Also excelling early was Taj Burrow (AUS) who launched his Quiksilver Pro France campaign with some huge aerials to score a total of 17.17 to defeat tour legend Mark Occhilupo (AUS) and excitement machine Dane Reynolds (USA). Burrow is coming home strong at the end of the season and is looking for a big tour finish.
“I had my best two scores in the first five minutes of that heat” said Burrow. “It felt really good but I was still wary of the other guys, who are more than capable of coming back with big scores quickly. As far as the year goes, I had the third at Trestles and am in sixth position. I was hoping to climb up the ratings a bit but everyone else around me keeps doing well too. I’ll just have to fight a bit harder I think!”
Going to press Bruce Irons (HAW) clocked up a perfect 10-point ride in his heat against Lee Winkler (AUS) and Tiago Pires (PRT). In taking the win he is hopeful that he can replicate his performance here last year where he finished runner-up to his brother Andy.
“It was so much fun out there,” said Irons. “That 10 was such a good wave. I just love surfing in these types of waves and I just hope it stays like this for the rest of the event.”
The forecast for tomorrow is for wild surf conditions with rain so at present it is doubtful that the event will continue. Organisers will however convene to make the decision regarding continuing the event at 8am Sunday 25 September local time.
For the full results go to www.quiksilver.com/france05 or www.aspworldtour.com
Tune into the live webcast of the Quiksilver Pro France, presented by Samsung with Evian, at www.quiksilver.com/france05 and www.aspworldtour.com The broadcast will be in four languages – English, French, Portuguese and Spanish.