Sean Doherty On: Day 3 Quiksilver Pro, The Iceman of Cul Nus

11 Oct 2015 1

Sean Doherty

Senior Writer

	The great return of Steph Gilmore, Photo by Scholtz / WSL

The great return of Steph Gilmore, Photo by Scholtz / WSL

Steph Gilmore fracturing her leg and wrenched her knee back in March – while probably not great for Steph – has had a silver lining for the women’s tour.

Her absence has nudged the tour out of an increasingly predictable orbit. Just as the guy’s tour was dominated for a decade by Kelly, Mick and Joel, their success eventually began to drain the life from the tour, the women’s tour has been owned by Steph, Carissa – and to a lesser degree, Tyler and Sally – for years now.

But with Steph gone the women’s tour has been a wide-open road this year. Carissa still leads, but girls like Courtney Conlogue, Bianca Buitendag, Johann Defay and Lakey Peterson have all stepped up, lapping up the extra sunshine. Yesterday at Culs Nus we saw career best waves for Coco Ho and Tatiana Weston-

Steph’s looked good on her return to the tour and two legs. She still wasn’t sure she was going to surf until a couple of days ago, but didn’t need to push the knee too hard, simply getting tubed the length of the bank for the win. The injury itself might prove a silver lining for Steph herself. After dominating the tour for so long from such an early age, it’s always seemed like she’s been craving time away from it, and it’ll be interesting to see whether she returns next year really wanting to be there.  

When Kolohe paddled out against Kelly in round three we were watching the future of American surfing… but which one? A few years ago it was supposed to be Kolohe, until he got ground in the cogs of the machine, been down, then up, then back down again, barely making a heat this year. Kelly has been the future of American surfing since 1987, so we’re just running with it out of habit.

But it only took a couple of minutes to sense a shift. Kolohe landed a slob grab, and while Kelly surfed great, the old bones, which have been ground into the sand here all week, just couldn’t keep up. The WSL business model has been built around having a good ol’ mainland American marquee star to get the flags waving and chum the corporate dollars. That’s why it was hugely surprising they just didn’t pony up and give Dane the wildcard last year. Instead they’ve been forced to go all-in with Kelly, and now that the event horizon of Kelly’s exit looms, they need to groom an all-American successor.

By the time ratings leader Mick Fanning hit the water for a procedural win against Reunion Island wildcard Max Huscenot, the contest bank was starting to do a fair impression of Lower Trestles… and that wouldn’t be good for Mick. The judges saw a lot of his forehand wrap at Trestles, days of it, too much some argued, and they saw more of it today. When Max found the only tube of the heat and held a comfortable lead, suddenly the world title race looked wide open. 

Mick Fanning Melodrama, Photo by Poullenot / WSL

Mick Fanning Melodrama, Photo by Poullenot / WSL

You know how it ended. Mick, needing a score with 15 seconds on the clock, the best wave of the heat approaching, and there was sudden flash of déjà vu back to his world title winning Pipe wave in 2013. This wave will be just as important. He whipped it to the beach, sold some claim candy just to make sure the number dropped, and there it was. It was icy good, and as he was melodramatically and pointlessly whisked away in a sponsor car for a hundred metre mercy dash, possibly running over several French children in the process, he would’ve know how big that win was.

Mick Fanning has won this event three times, and every time he has he’s gone on to win the world title.

The other world title contenders – Filipe Toledo aside who is now drifting badly and facing the uncomfortable prospect of Pipeline – all stayed on track. Julian Wilson and Adriano were solid despite being pushed, but it was Owen Wright who faced the biggest test in the final heat of the day, right on sunset. Dane Reynolds has wrecked a couple of world title campaigns here in France, and after surrendering meekly at Trestles, a result in France was almost a non-negotiable for Owen.

The judges saw a lot of backhand surfing in the dying light of the day, and they loved it. First Gabe Medina, then Wilko, and finally Owen all dropped huge scores on their backhand. Owen got out to a lead and while Dane is great with two nines in the opening minutes of a heat, anytime he falls behind the springs fly loose and everything looks a little forced and an air of inevitability falls over the heat. In saying that he surfed great, and if the WSL were to throw him a tour wildcard next year they’d find an anti hero would work better than the guy wrapped in the flag being carried up the beach. 

QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE ROUND 4 MATCH-UPS:

Heat 1: Julian Wilson (AUS), Jadson Andre (BRA), Kolohe Andino (USA)
Heat 2: Italo Ferreira (BRA), Bede Durbidge (AUS), Mick Fanning (AUS)
Heat 3: Adriano De Souza (BRA), John John Florence (HAW), Jeremy Flores (FRA)
Heat 4: Gabriel Medina (BRA), Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Owen Wright (AUS)

QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE ROUND 3 RESULTS:

Heat 1: Julian Wilson (AUS) 11.17 def. Brett Simpson (USA) 10.34
Heat 2: Jadson Andre (BRA) 13.17 def. Nat Young (USA) 12.97
Heat 3: Kolohe Andino (USA) 15.77 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 14.20
Heat 4: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 13.60 def. Keanu Asing (HAW) 13.10
Heat 5: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 18.37 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 17.40
Heat 6: Mick Fanning (AUS) 17.83 def. Maxime Huscenot (FRA) 16.04
Heat 7: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 14.17 def. Tomas Hermes (BRA) 12.73
Heat 8: John John Florence (HAW) 16.33 def. Kai Otton (AUS) 15.33
Heat 9: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 10.46 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 10.14
Heat 10: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 18.70 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 14.23
Heat 11: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 16.00 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 12.50
Heat 12: Owen Wright (AUS) 14.83 def. Dane Reynolds (USA) 10.97

ROXY PRO FRANCE ROUND 3 MATCH-UPS:

Heat 1: Johanne Defay (FRA), Tyler Wright (AUS), Sage Erickson (USA)
Heat 2: Courtney Conlogue (USA), Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Coco Ho (HAW)
Heat 3: Carissa Moore (HAW), Nikki Van Dijk (AUS), Alessa Quizon (HAW)
Heat 4: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW), Dimity Stoyle (AUS)

ROXY PRO FRANCE ROUND 2 RESULTS:

Heat 1: Johanne Defay (FRA) 18.17 def. Silvana Lima (BRA) 10.50
Heat 2: Alessa Quizon (HAW) 10.80 def. Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 10.20
Heat 3: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 13.23 def. Chelsea Tuach (BRB) 5.97
Heat 4: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 12.43 def. Pauline Ado (FRA) 4.60
Heat 5: Sage Erickson (USA) 13.23 def. Lakey Peterson (USA) 7.76
Heat 6: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 13.50 def. Malia Manuel (HAW) 13.40

Tags: wsl , france , doherty (create Alert from these tags)

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