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Wave Pools: Good or Bad for the Sport of Surfing?

Monday, June 1st, 2009

surfparkmod11There is no other sport like Surfing. I will go to the grave defending the ever changing dynamic sport that is surfing and how it’s superior to all other sports. Now obviously that’s my opinion, but there is reason to back it up. Every surf session is different. In fact, every wave is different. You can never surf the same wave and never re-create the same session. There are elements that dictate how and when a wave breaks thousands of miles before they reach the shore. In all other board sports, including snowboarding, you can replicate a situation. The kickers stay in the same spot as the run before and they remain the same size, the rails and boxes and planters and stairs will all be there exactly as you left them the day before. Pretty much nothing remains the same in Surfing from session to session.

Here in lies the problem when it comes to commercially advancing the sport. There will be a lot of people reading this that will say, surfing needs to stay core and blah blah blah. The fact remains it is already a commercial giant in terms of selling clothes and overall lifestyle and no matter how big it gets, the core reason as to why surfing is so amazing will never change as long as there are oceans and waves. In a recent ESPN article, Kelly Slater listed somethings he would like to see changed as to the way the ASP runs and operates. I very much agree with the majority of his points and I would like to address a few and see what your thoughts are.

ASP taking more control: As it is currently, the ASP organizes the events but each sponsor is in charge of marketing their events and their athletes.  How much visibility an event gets is entirely out of the ASP’s hands and up to the brand controlling the contest. Kelly mentioned it should not be this way,

“The new governing body should own and run the events, own the media, do the marketing, bring in sponsors. Right now, the ASP doesn’t own any of those things, because it didn’t do the groundwork in the beginning. Sponsors own, run and market the events. That needs to change.”

As things stand, it would not be financially feasible for the ASP to do this because there is one huge piece of the pie missing, ticket sales. You gotta pay money to go see Tony Hawk bust out on a Half pipe, or Travis Pastrana pull a double backflip. The X-Games, the Dew Tour, and all those other similar events all charge for viewing pleasure. They also sell concessions and merchandise and yes all of this doesn’t go directly into the pocket of the event organizers, but enough of it does to make a huge difference in terms of visibility and marketing. You want to watch Chris Ward and Freddy Patacchia go head to head? You walk to the beach, there are no bleachers or box seats. The ASP doesn’t see a dime from fans in comparison to all
the other boardsports and major sporting events.

wave-pool-surfing1Enter the Wave Pool: The reason the ASP doesn’t charge is because the beach is free and I don’t think that should ever change. However, the possibility of adding a wave pool into the schedule of the ASP might be the solution to generating cash to start a marketing division that solely works on promoting events and athletes without corporate brand agendas. A wave pool would provide a setting that would make the sport of Surfing more exciting and real to the everyday person. Think how many people go to the X-Games or Dew Tour that don’t skate or ride MX? They go for the entertainment. Everyone thinks surfing is amazing, everyone wishes they could do it, and everyone enjoys watching people on waves, but not everyone can get to the beach. You bring a wave pool into the mix and all of the sudden you have a format with bleachers, and sky boxes, and concessions and an event that thousands of people can watch live and millions can watch on TV. The controlled wave environment would allow for superior TV viewing as you would not be subject to weather or swells. Now, don’t get me wrong, as I stated above there is nothing that can change the dynamics of surfing and that is why it’s such a powerful experience for those that participate in it. But would adding 3-4 wave pools into the circuit dilute that element? I would say the positive visibility that would come from it would out way the negatives.

You would have a more controlled wave environment that would allow riders to go bigger, ride more waves and truly compete on a skill level as opposed to a “time the sets, take advantage of wave priority” method. Veterans often have advantage in ASP as they now how to use the current format to their advantage. And I am not saying to take that away, but every other board sport has a course that doesn’t change that allows the competition to be based solely on who does better, cleaner more technical tricks with the same opportunity given. Could you imagine watching Bruce Irons, Jamie O’brien or Dane Reynolds in a wave pool with perfect vertical lips, they would be soaring 10 ft in front of you. Riders could take more risks and perform far more technical tricks and that makes for better and more exciting competition. Look back on when the rumors that Tony Hawk was going to pull the first competition 900 at the X-Games, or when Shaun White was going to do a 1260 on the Half Pipe. Or When Travis Pastrana was going to pull a double back flip. There is drama and marketability and something that interests the average non-enthusiast viewer. People that don’t own motorcycles were emailing their friends Travis’s double backflip the next morning at work. We don’t have that yet in competitive surfing.

“Among the biggest problems with televising surfing are that traditional surfing contests are too time-consuming, that waves are too unpredictable and that judging is too nuanced for the uninitiated. But recent innovations in the competition format and the development of wave pools that could serve as surfing arenas could help bring competitive surfing to a larger audience.”  NY Times

“We would be able to schedule a contest on Friday at 6 p.m., live on TV. Picture a wave going around in a circle indefinitely. There’s a bridge over the wave for viewing, a Plexiglas bottom so fans can watch guys surf above them, and a crow’s nest in the middle so people can watch the best guys in the world surf the wave all the way around them. Kids could stand on the edge of the pool and get sprayed by their favorite surfers.” Kelly Slater

Wave pool stops should also be in land locked states or big coastal spots with no waves, the ASP could have stops in Vegas, Utah, New York, Texas, Chicago. Once the technology and end product can produce a world class break, surfing will become one of the most widely adapted and participated sports in the world. If you could truly progress your surfing in a wave pool in Vegas and then go to the coast and shred, you will have kids entering the ‘CT from places you could never imagine. Flash backs of Rick Kane from North Shore come to mind. You will see people driving with boards strapped to their roof in land locked states. You will have pro shops and local contests selling out tickets, kids going to school with sponsorship deals. Surfing will reach mainstream media as a sport, which will mean better and bigger events both in and out of the beach, better purses and better paid athletes. The entire sport will change in terms of visibility and exposure.

Whether that is good or bad? Time will tell. For the sport itself I think it will be good, for the core surfers that don’t care about world titles or ‘CT standings it will be annoying as you might be getting dropped in on by a kid from Kentucky with a bad farmer tan.

Posted in Surfing | 29 Comments »

ASP World Tour- We Just Want to See the Best Surfers Surf the Best Waves

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

If I want to hear about records, statistics and in-game strategy, I’ll watch baseball and basketball. With surfing, all I really care about is getting the chance to watch the best surfers in the world surfing the best waves in the world. Hopefully someday we’ll have a format which allows that to happen much more often than the system currently being used by the ASP.

kelly slater teahupoo

Somewhere between Kelly Slater’s vision of a radical overhaul and Da Hui’s discombobulated criticisms of the ASP lies the very real truth that the Dream Tour is in desperate need of a makeover. The new format where the top 16 surfers get automatically seeded to the 2nd round was supposed fix some of what’s ailing the tour. Unfortunately, all it seems to have done is make a bad problem worse. Aside from the appearances of Andy Irons, Josh Kerr, Dane Reynolds and maybe one or two others; Rd.1 of the Billabong Pro Tahiti was weak and painfully boring to watch. If you were to put the Rd. 1 line-up of main event surfers side by side with the surfers who took part in the trials, an argument could very easily be made that the trials line-up contained much more talent. Clay Marzo, Mark Healey, Julian Wilson, and Bruce Irons…or Ben Dunn, Jihad Khodr, Nathaniel Curran and David Weare?

CUT THE FAT There are 45 guys on the Tour. That’s too many. Cut it in half. There are guys who lose in the second or third round at every contest. One didn’t win a single heat last year. F1 doesn’t have 45 cars on the track for a reason. There should be a competitive level at the top, and we don’t have that.” Kelly Slater

In his Rd. 1 victory over Jihad Khodr, Andy Irons did more than just remind everyone he’s still at the top of his craft, he also put the mile-wide disparity in skill level on display for everyone to see. Khodr had no business being in the water with the 3x world champion at Teahupo’o and was left trying to scrape up 4’s and 5’s on the inside after A.I. opened with an 8.67. This type of situation happens far too often on the Dream Tour and is exactly why they’ve automatically put the top 16 into Rd. 2. Maybe instead of pretending the back half of the top 44 actually belongs with the front, it’s time to trim it down and allow more opportunities for locals and wildcards to go up against the surfers being touted as the world’s best.

As a fan of surfing and someone who likes to see how far it’s progressing, I watch the webcasts to see the best surfers surf the best waves. Unfortunately, for now anyways, the system being used by the ASP doesn’t always allow for that to take place.

Posted in Surfing | 5 Comments »

Joel Parkinson Blows Up, Wins at Thrilling Quiksilver Pro

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

joel parkinson wins quiksilver pro

Everyone on the ASP World Tour might want to take notice….Joel Parkinson is a man on a mission. Following an impressive performance at the 2008 version of the Billabong Pipeline Masters, one that saw Parko seal his first ever Triple Crown of Surfing, it’s been reported that Parkinson has been pushing himself to the brink, driven by a roaring hunger to finally win an ASP World Championship. With that being the goal, Parko is off to one hell of a start for 2009 as he surfed almost flawlessly enroute to victory at a thrilling Quiksilver Pro at Snapper Rocks. While it’s just the first event of the year, Parko surfed with an added edge and confidence to his game. Couple that with the fact that the last 3 winners of the inaugural tour stop have gone on to win the overall crown, the rest of the WCT, including Kelly Slater, already has a monumental hill to climb if Joel Parkinson continues to bring what he brought to the Quiksilver Pro at Snapper Rocks.

Here are some of the goods brought to us by the 2009 Quiksilver Pro at Snapper Rocks:

Jordy, Dane, Adriano, and Julian Wilson- You hear it all the time….the WCT is just not going to be that exciting once Slater retires, right? Not even…The young crew of up and comers are bringing an added level of excitement to the ‘CT with an explosive, go for broke approach to the contests that was as exciting as I’ve ever witnessed. Julian boldly dethroned Slater, Dane got swiped of what should have been a huge win over Taj Burrow, and Adriano de Souza went balls to the wall the whole event, culminating in an impressive finals stand against the man to beat, Joel Parkinson. If these guys end up staying on the WCT throughout the upcoming years….

Mick Fanning V. Joel Parkinson- Everyone knew it when these two were paired up in the semifinal…the eventual winner would go on to win it all. With that in mind, the two Coolangatta surfers went on to put up one of the all-time heats as they went head to head in said semifinal, Parko just simply wouldn’t be denied. If you have a few minutes, use a little bit of Google magic and find highlights of this head to head match-up. To use a term that doesn’t get used very often in the world of surfing, it was simply epic.

Is it the size that matters, or the motion in the ocean?- We all like to tell ourselves that size doesn’t really matter, but it looks like the judges agree with the chicks…bigger is better. While Kelly Slater struggled in his rd. 3 loss to Julian WIlson, it appeared throughout the contest that the judges were none to impressed with his self-made 5′4″. He was constantly underscored throughout the event. Are the ASP judges sending Slater a message for the rest of the year? Will Mr. 9-time continue to ride his little creations at Bells? Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

The Kirra Effect- The man upstairs might be sending us a message- Bring Kirra Back! In a year that is being dedicated to the restoration of the famed break at Kirra, how crazy is it that the stars aligned and allowed the final rounds of the event to be showcased at it’s current form. It was the first time an ASP World Tour event had been held at the iconic right-hand point break in 12 years, and allowed a perfect opportunity to raise awareness of the battle going on to bring Kirra back to what it once was.

Congratulations Joel Parkinson, winner of the 2009 Quiksilver Pro at Snapper Rocks

QUIKSILVER PRO GOLD COAST SEMIFINALS RESULTS:
SF 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) def. Mick Fanning (AUS)
SF 2: Adriano de Souza (BRA) def. Taj Burrow (AUS)

QUIKSILVER PRO GOLD COAST QUARTERFINALS RESULTS:
QF 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 15.00 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 4.37
QF 2: Mick Fanning (AUS) 18.53 def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 13.00
QF 3: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 17.86 def. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 6.77
QF 4: Taj Burrow (AUS) 14.40 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 14.00

QUIKSILVER PRO GOLD COAST ROUND 4 RESULTS:
Heat 1: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 17.24 def. Jihad Khodr (BRA) 16.43
Heat 2: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 13.90 def. Chris Davidson (AUS) 10.90
Heat 3: Mick Fanning (AUS) 17.90 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 12.40
Heat 4: Damien Hobgood (USA) 16.30 def. Julian Wilson (AUS) 15.50
Heat 5: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 17.16 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13.93
Heat 6: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 17.10 def. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 11.00
Heat 7: Taj Burrow (AUS) 17.00 def. Dane Reynolds (USA) 16.23
Heat 8: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 14.33 def. Tom Whitaker (AUS) 11.33

Posted in Surfing | No Comments »

Andy Irons Taking 2009 Off, Billabong Backs Him Up

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

The bru’s over at Stab Magazine just released these juicy little nugget’s of industry information.

- Andy Irons will take next year off to chill and do some surf trips. He will aim for a wildcard in 2010. Billabong is backing him all the way, and has just given him a new five-year deal. (Parko’s just signed up for another five, too.)

- Wonder why Bobby Martinez has been shredding Pipe with no stickers on the nose of his board? He’s no longer riding for Reef. Despite the tough economic times (and his management persuading him to put ink on paper), Bobby walked away from an offer that was three-quarters of what he’d asked for. When he simmered down, Bobby went back to Reef, saying okay, I’ll take the deal, but Reef had withdrawn. It’s gonna be tough trying to find a company with $500k kicking round in its marketing budget right now. But Bob has signed some of the smarter deals in surfing. Remember seeing huge Monster energy drink green and black “M” on the bottom and deck of his board? Rumors suggest this nets him around $US300k.

- As always, Dane’s endorsements are the subject of constant speculation. The latest has it that the golden child is going to break his deal with Quik to join Analog. With Burton’s backing, Analog’s certainly got the cash. But Dane has not suggested he’s even thinking about moving, so the rumour remains unfounded.

The Andy Irons info actually makes a lot of sense. Time away from the Dream Tour has worked out well for past champions Curren, Occy, and Slater. And if Billabong is backing this, chances are there will be unreal amounts of fresh footage of Irons freesurfing to look forward to next year.

As for the industry as a whole, especially regarding sponsorships, it’s going to be interesting to see what happens in the upcoming month with the economy being what it is. Everyone is re-evaluating their financial strategies and chances are we’ll be hearing more stories similar to the Bobby Martinez/Reef situation.

Posted in Surfing | 2 Comments »

Dane Reynolds Speaks On His Injury/Return

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

dane reynolds air

There are few young surfers in the world who get me amped about what’s possible in surfing and the direction our sport is headed the way Dane Reynolds does (Clay Marzo and Dusty Payne being a couple of the others). When Dane went down with an ankle injury following the Billabong Pro Mundaka, he left a noticeable void on the Dream Tour. With Kelly wrapping up the world championship so early and Bruce and Andy Irons going on sabbatical, Dane was one of the few guys left that really made the tour exciting to watch. Just like Slater, you really have no idea what you’re going to see on every wave he takes off on. Dane is single-handedly progressing the sport the way few others have.

Dane is working on making his way back from the brutality he imposed on his ankle. For the first time since injuring himself in Spain, Dane has opened up on his blog about the injury and where he’s at in the recovery process. Check the video, the very wave he injured himself on is a testament to how talented Dane Reynolds is.

His goal is to make it back by the time the Pipeline Masters rolls around and he seems cautiously optimisic about it. We look forward to his recovery and wish the best for the man Slater calls “the best surfer in the world right now by a mile.

Posted in Surfing | No Comments »

Freesurfing Vs. Competitive Surfing

Monday, December 1st, 2008

While the freesurfing vs. competitive surfing debate has been going on as long as I can remember, 2008 has seen the ongoing contrast of ideas and views on the issue reach a fevered pitch. Bruce Irons deciding to bail on the ASP World Tour, Kelly Slater continuing to establish his unimaginable legacy on that same tour, and Dane Reynolds having a debate with Dane Reynolds on his future with the Dream Tour are just some of the examples of why the freesurfing vs. competitive surfing debate has been especially fresh on our minds in ‘08.

rob machado big air

In my eyes this debate has always been an easy one. There’s plenty of room in this world for both to thrive. A healthy freesurfing movement allows guy like Dave Rastovich, the Malloy brothers, Jamie O’Brien, and Donavon Frankenreiter to continually blow our minds, each in their own respective way. I really dig the fact that it is becoming more common for the big boys like Billabong and Volcom to sponsor guys and just let them do their thing. I have the sneaking suspicion that we’re going to see truly incredible things from Bruce Irons as the gates of the WCT pen open up and he’s able to roam about the globe and single-handedly progress the sport in ways that only he can.

While Bruce goes about his business, the ‘CT will continue on without him. As it does, the storylines and the rich history it produces year after year will go on right with it. This is what makes competitive surfing such a beautiful thing. In fact, the whole motive for this post came as a result of 22 yr. old Michel Bourez’ victory at the first leg of this year’s Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. The Tahitian not only claimed victory with his inspired performance at the Reef Hawaiian Pro, but he also secured a coveted spot on the 2009 Dream Tour with his win at Haleiwa.

When you follow surfing, it can be easy to forget the real life aspects that take place with the surfers who have battled to get to where they are at today. Competitive surfing is full of inspiring stories of hard work, dedication, perseverance, broken hearts, and the realization of dreams. In the euphoric days following the Reef Hawaiian Pro, Michel Bourez told his story in his own words. In doing so, he once again reminded myself, as well as thousands of others, what it is that makes the world tour and competitive surfing so special.

michel bourez

“I still have that picture in my mind of coming in from the water and seeing the crowd and seeing all my good friends running down to see me and that was such a good feeling and something I’ll never ever forget. To win an event in Hawaii under that pressure was just incredible. I keep repeating myself here, as I still can’t really believe it.” -Michel Bourez-

So as far as the competitive surfing vs. freesurfing debate goes, it’s pretty simple….there’s plenty of room in my world for both. Hopefully this is the case for you as well. Both aspects of surfing are full of stories, images, history and so much more, all of which you don’t want to miss.

Posted in Surfing | No Comments »

Kelly Slater Passing the Torch

Monday, November 17th, 2008

“Dane Reynolds is the best surfer in the world right now by a mile. If he doesn’t win this thing for the next 20 years, there’s something wrong I think.” – Kelly Slater

dane reynolds

Kelly Slater has never been shy about his thoughts on the potential possessed by Dane Reynolds to usher in the next revolution for surfing. For years now, Kelly has been generous and unrelenting in heaping praise on his Quiksilver counterpart. More so than any other world champion, as far as I can remember, Slater has gone out his way to pass the torch to Dane, and never was this more evident than at the most recent edition of the Surfer Poll awards where Kelly not only won his unprecedented 14th Surfer Poll, but also witnessed Dane finish third overall in the Surfer Mag poll. The list of surfers finishing behind Dane was pretty impressive, including the likes of Joel Parkinson, Andy Irons, Bruce Irons, Taj Burrow and others considered to be among the worlds best.

And Dane’s response to all of the respect being thrown this way and being considered the new revolution?

“I don’t know if I’ve really arrived, I’m only young…Everything I do is just a tiny notch toward…I don’t know what. A baby step toward something. I’m just a surf bum, really.”

Classic Dane, and part of the reason why Kelly’s prophecy of Dane’s greatness is likely to be fulfilled. Contest results, hype, awards and everything else don’t really seem to phase Dane much. He just loves to ride and is one of the most progressive, talented guys out there doing it.

Kelly speaks on the future of Dane…

Posted in Surfing | No Comments »

Ace’s Big Day in France

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

Adrian “Ace” Buchan couldn’t have scripted it any better himself. To not only make his first ASP World final, but to go on and beat Kelly Slater when all signs pointed toward Kelly walking through the heat on his way to sealing his 9th world championship is something that will stay with the up and coming Aussie surfer for the rest of his life.

ace buchan wins quiksilver pro

He wasn’t supposed to win that heat, Kelly winning #9 at the Quiksilver event was supposed to be the springboard for the chase to #10. Someone forgot to mention that to Ace. “I can’t believe it, to have Kelly in the final and to beat him, I am speechless,” Buchan said. “He is my hero. I have watched him win five events this year – he has just been phenomenal. He sets the bar so high for all of us guys, I am really thankful that surfing has got such a great custodian.”

To but it mildly, Ace Buchan has balls of steel. Before the ‘08 Quiksilver Pro France, Buchan had yet to advance beyond the quarterfinal round in his career on the WCT. On his way to his victory in Hossegor, Ace took down a streaking Dane Reynolds in the quarters, handled a resurgent Damien Hobgood in the semi’s, and then temporarily kept Slater from officially regaining his throne that sits atop the surfing world. “I tried not to think about it paddling out for the final,” Buchan said. “I had visions of him winning the title but I just tried to focus on myself and what I had to do out there – get two really good waves. Luckily Kelly did not get that one at the end.”

Kelly is now relegated to waiting until the upcoming Billabong Pro Mundaka to seal the deal on 9 and render the rest of the year on tour, as far as world championship races go, completely meaningless. As the closing minutes ticked away toward the end of the 35 minute heat in what becoming sloggy beach-break, it looked like Slater was getting ready to post another come from behind victory. It’s been a year full of them for Kelly, but it just wouldn’t happen for him today and left him with visions of adding an extra five minutes onto the back end of the heat with Buchan.

“It’s cool that it came down to a wave in the end, at least it made it interesting,” Slater said. “Truth is though, Ace was more in sync with it. He got those open face ones and did the turns. I had one wave I surfed pretty good on that I knew was going to get me back in it. Then I just needed a chance in the end but there wasn’t quite enough time – I should have pushed for a 40-minute final.” Needing just a mid-range score to pull of the comeback, Kelly scrambled for one last wave in the closing moments of the heat. However it just wasn’t to be. “Maybe if there would have been a punt section where I could have done a big air I could have possibly gotten the score, but I knew that score wasn’t going to be close. It’s frustrating though, to be so close – literally one score away from winning the title. I guess at this point I’m two heat wins from winning the title.”

All Kelly needs to do is finish 9th or better at Mundaka and the circus begins for his march to a 10th world championship. And while #9 for Slater is inevitable at this point, #1, as far as tour victories go, is nothing but sweet for the man they call Ace.

Final Quiksilver Pro France Results:

Final:
Adrian Buchan (AUS) 15.74 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 15.16

Semifinal Quiksilver Pro France Results:
Heat 1: Kelly Slater (USA) 14.90 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 13.97
Heat 2: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 15.17 def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 8.83

Quarterfinal Quiksilver Pro France Results:
Heat 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 14.93 def. Bobby Martinez (USA) 12.40
Heat 2: Kelly Slater (USA) 17.50 def. Mick Campbell (AUS) 12.33
Heat 3: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 17.00 def. Dane Reynolds (USA) 13.34
Heat 4: Damien Hobgood (USA) 13.34 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 13.00

Round 4 Quiksilver Pro France Results:
Heat 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 9.50 def. Dayyan Neve (AUS) 9.33
Heat 2: Bobby Martinez (USA) 14.66 def. Ben Dunn (AUS) 12.00
Heat 3: Mick Campbell (AUS) 14.00 def. Luke Stedman (AUS) 11.17
Heat 4: Kelly Slater (USA) 18.27 def. Taylor Knox (USA) 14.77
Heat 5: Dane Reynolds (USA) 16.50 def. Taj Burrow (AUS) 10.33
Heat 6: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 14.50 def. Rodrigo Dornelles (BRA) 10.66
Heat 7: Michel Bourez (PYF) 13.50 def. Kieren Perrow (AUS) 11.57
Heat 8: Damien Hobgood (USA) 8.67 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 8.50

Posted in Surfing | 1 Comment »

Durbidge Ousted, Dane Takes Out Jordy at Quiksilver Pro

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

And then there was Taj…

taj burrow and quiksilver pro france

With Joel Parkinson and Mick Fanning taking early Rd. 2 exits at the Quiksilver Pro France, Bede Durbidge and Taj Burrow were left as the only two surfers who could essentially prevent Kelly Slater from winning his unprecedented 9th world championship in Hossegor. With Bede’s Rd. 3 loss at the hands of Michel Bourez today, Taj is now the only surfer blocking the path to #9 for Kelly if he pulls off the victory at the Quik Pro.

There really wasn’t a whole lot Bede could do as the wildcard Bourez was absolutely on fire throughout their heat. Another one of Tahiti’s amazing surfers looked right at home on on the 3-5 ft. beach break. Bourez posted a near perfect score of 19.57 on his way to ending Durbidge’s run in France.

Taj is continuing to surf as well as he ever has on tour and posted a Rd. 3 victory over Gabe Kling. His surfing appears almost flawless right now and his Firewire boards seem to really be on point and working well for him. It’s almost a shame that he’s performing so well in the same year that Kelly Slater decide to go mental on everyone else.

Speaking of which, Kelly posted another one of his come from behind victories with his win over France’s Joan Duru. Kelly has struggled with the wildcard surfers this year and really had to put in some work to avenge his Rd. 1 loss to Duru. Slater’s run continues with a Rd. 4 match-up against his good friend and fellow long-time tour veteran Taylor Knox.

In a heat that will go a long way in deciding ’08’s Rookie of the Year honors, Dane Reynolds once again took out Jordy Smith in the battle of highly-touted surfing phenoms. Watching these two surf against each other is always exciting and will likely be that way for years to come. While at times on tour it appears that Dane would rather be somewhere else, he really seems to light up for his heats versus Jordy. Hopefully this will be the case for Dane’s Rd. 4 upcoming heat versus Taj.

The swell at Hossegor is forecast to drop slightly, but conditions are actually expected to improve. The word from Quiksilver is that tomorrow will be the final day of competition and a winner of the 2008 Quiksilver Pro France will likely be decided. The way things are looking, we may also have a crowning of the 2008 ASP world champion. Stay Tuned!

Posted in Surfing | 1 Comment »

Quiksilver Pro France: Fanning, Parko Make Early Exits

Saturday, September 20th, 2008

quiksilver pro france

It was a fairly brutal day for most of the usual suspects as action got underway at the ‘08 Quiksilver Pro France today. The call was made to run the event this morning as the approaching swell began filling in overnight. Wave size was in the 2-4 ft. range with absolutely beautiful weather conditions (in the morning anyways) in Hossegor.

Although both needed to make it at least to the semifinal round in order to guarantee that Kelly Slater has no chance of clinching the world championship in France, Joel Parkinson and Mick Fanning find themselves on the outside looking in following surprising Rd. 2 losses.

After falling to rookie-phenom Dane Reynolds in Rd. 1, current world no.4 Joel Parkinson was sent out of the event for good at the hands of Tahitian wildcard surfer Michel Bourez. This took place just moments after seeing fellow Coolie-kid and reigning world champ Mick Fanning be eliminated by injury replacement surfer Gabe Kling in the previous heat. “Mick has been one of my favorite surfers and I can’t really believe that happened,” Kling said. “It was so hard out there and him needing that small of score… I just got lucky but I’ll take it. I’m stoked to win though, he’s a reigning world champion.”

Andy Irons finds himself in a do-or-die Rd. 2 match-up against Brazil’s Jihad Khodr once action resumes tomorrow. It’s still super hard to tell what is going on with the 3x champ from Hawaii. Although the conditions were shifty and inconsistent, the 3x winner of this event threw up a meager 2.34 in a first round heat that saw Jordy Smith make his way to Rd. 3. I’m not gonna lie, A.I. is far and away one of my all-time favorite surfers to watch and is honestly just too damn good of a surfer to perform that way. Maybe he’s ready to go the way of his brother Bruce and resign from full-time WCT status, perhaps there’s an injury or something else going on, but here’s to hoping the only surfer to put fear into the mind of Kelly Slater can get back to the surfing that has made him one of the all-time greats to ever set foot on a board.

Speaking of Slater… he struggled at the beginning as well today, as he went down in his 1st round heat to wildcard contestant Joan Duru. His Rd. 2 match-up versus U.S. Open runner-up Tim Boal saw Slater battling from behind for most of the round. However with a late 9.0 score, Slater moved on to Rd. 3 and kept his hope of clinching #9 in France alive and strong. “This is a tough place for a contest,” Slater said. “It’s really amazing that Andy won this contest three times and got a second the year before that because the waves change so much and it really is the luck of the draw out in those heats. The guy who gets the best waves is going to win and it happens a lot here at this contest.”

And don’t think for a second Kelly doesn’t know right where the race for the world championship stands. Even he admitted the thought of clinching may have been creeping into the back of his mind. “It probably just has my head a little bit – thinking about it,” Slater said. “It’s hard to get that monkey off your back, thinking you had the chance to do something like that. I guess I have been thinking about it a little bit over the last week and I just haven’t gotten in sync so far. That heat I felt pretty good, still not great, but I got a couple of good scores – those lefts panned out for me and allowed me to get a couple big moves.”

With the swell expected to continue increasing, Rd. 2 is likely to resume tomorrow morning. The official call on competition status will be made tomorrow morning at 7:30. You can peep the action HERE.

Here are the rest of today’s results from the Quiksilver Pro France…

Quiksilver Pro France Round 2 Results:
Heat 1: Kelly Slater (USA) 17.67 def. Tim Boal (FRA) 15.00
Heat 2: Gabe Kling (USA) 12.07 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 11.00
Heat 3: Michel Bourez (PYF) 14.00 def. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 12.67
Heat 4: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 12.00 def. Nic Muscroft (AUS) 9.44

Quiksilver Pro France Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Ben Dunn (AUS) 12.84, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 10.06, Leonardo Neves (BRA) 8.6
Heat 2: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 17.13, Jay Thompson (AUS) 15.2, Daniel Ross (AUS) 10.1
Heat 3: Roy Powers (HAW) 13.6, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 13.56, Aritz Aranburu (EUK) 11.9
Heat 4: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 16.97, Jihad Khodr (BRA) 6.63, Andy Irons (HAW) 2.34
Heat 5: Taylor Knox (USA) 13.67, Bobby Martinez (USA) 13.40, Ricky Basnett (ZAF) 5.83
Heat 6: Tom Whitaker (AUS) 15.50, Nic Muscroft (AUS) 13.84, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 11.50
Heat 7: Dane Reynolds (USA) 15.16, Joel Parkinson (AUS) 14.60, Michel Bourez (PYF) 9.30
Heat 8: Joan Duru (FRA) 10.50, Kelly Slater (USA) 9.94, Chris Ward (USA) 9.90
Heat 9: Taj Burrow (AUS) 16.67, Tim Reyes (USA) 11.50, Tim Boal (FRA) 5.77
Heat 10: Kieren Perrow (AUS) 15.00, Mick Fanning (AUS) 14.40, Gabe Kling (USA) 13.5
Heat 11: Travis Logie (ZAF) 13.94, Kai Otton (AUS) 10.67, Mikael Picon (FRA) 10.34
Heat 12: Daniel Wills (AUS) 16.17, Heitor Alves (BRA) 4.74, Bruce Irons (HAW) 2.77
Heat 13: Rodrigo Dornelles (BRA) 13.80, Luke Stedman (AUS) 12.83, Damien Hobgood (USA) 12.10
Heat 14: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 15.16, Tiago Pires (PRT) 12.63, Mick Campbell (AUS) 12.10
Heat 15: Pancho Sullivan (HAW) 14.50, Ben Bourgeois (USA) 14.30, Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 9.44
Heat 16: Dayyan Neve (AUS) 15.66, Royden Bryson (ZAF) 13.34, Luke Munro (AUS) 7.76

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