The Quiksilver Pro has always been an exasperating event. With a capricious Atlantic that can offer bloody violence or sublime perfection on any given day it has become a pivotal event in the modern title run. Here’s where Slater always falters and Fanning, for one, goes for the throat before the 11 times champ can rally at Pipe.
After three event wins to Slater’s unprecedented zero this year it is Gabriel Medina who headed into Europe with an Ali Shuffle. Maybe the greatest living surfer has his mind on his new OuterKnown project or his music career. Whatever the reason the Floridian has failed to take a single scalp ever though he missed out at ‘Chopes by 0.03. Yet he still finds himself within striking distance of number twelve and the France was a chance to cut Medina’s lead.
With King Kelly’s departure Quiksilver’s competitive team is a ghost of its glory days. Decades of world titles with Tom Carroll, Lisa Anderson and Slater are reduced to Freddy P (18th), Tiagro Pires (25th) and everyone’s least favourite Flores (33rd). Even Rusty is fielding a better team and they’ve only got Josh Kerr. This year Quiksilver were again forced to bus in Dane Reynolds to add a touch of éclat. The world’s most exciting/dull surfer floundered in again and wandered off to do something mind blowing else where, while Slater progressed.
The event stopped-started-stopped-started through the waiting period as the promised dream swell materialized in a mutant slop monster and by the final leg it seemed to have effected everyone. Hardly anyone shone in the onshore Landes beach breaks. With two clear exceptions – Golden boy Florence and Jadson Andrea who went ballistic from beginning to end.
The Brazilian, who is fighting on two fronts to re-qualify, tore the French peaks-slop-and-peaks-again apart. Hell bent on destroying everything that came his way he cut through the heats as if his hair was on fire.
The only other drama was Kerr’s elimination of Median in heat leaving the door open for Kelly. But the excitement only lasted a round then Jordy Smith pulled a ‘Kerrzy’ on Slater and suddenly the crown is Gabriel’s to lose.
Even off the back of his Trestles win Jordy still looked stiff and out of synch[/pullquote]
Even off the back of his Trestles win Jordy still looked stiff and out of synch, especially next to John John. Smarting after his second place in California Florence put on perfect show of such dexterous carves, hacks and punts, each flowing fluidly into the next, that Oahu’s finest resembled a swallow gliding through the autumn storms. Next to Florence’s champagne tail blows and humongous barrels Jadson was a sitting duck. After wasting five minutes or more failing to paddle back out Andrea only managing to 4.57 to John’s 16.00. If these are Florence’s true colours, and if he starts the year like this Gabriel shouldn’t invest too heavily on trophy polish as he’ll only get this one chance.