Round one of the Quiksilver Pro France was completed overnight, with big scores and big names advancing in six-foot waves at Hossegor.
Sunshine coast surfer, Julian Wilson, was the early standout; clocking two nine-point rides for back-to-back barrels to post the highest heat score of the day. The current World No. 5, who recently proposed to his long-time girlfriend Ashley in Paris, was stoked with his performance after two poor results in the last two events.
“I just wanted to catch waves and try and get into a bit of a rhythm,” Wilson said in his post heat interview.
“I just want to put in good performances and have a consistent year and see it out.”
2014 France champion John John Florence backed up his heroics from last year, by posting a near perfect 9.93 in his win over French local Jeremy Flores and Brazilian Alejo Muniz, who unfortunately injured his knee in the clash. Florence’s affinity with the shifty line-up was on show, advancing straight into Round Three.
“I love coming back here,” Florence said to World Surf League commentator Strider Wasilewski. “There’s a lot of water moving but it’s really fun. It’s clean!”
Joining Florence in the third round is three-time World Champion and four-time Quiksilver Pro France champion Mick Fanning, who eased past Tahitian Michel Bourez, and wildcard Maxime Huscenot.
“It’s fun!” Fanning said. “It can be heaven or hell out there. If you get the waves it’s great and there are some amazing waves out there, but you can easily get lost so quickly.”
The current ratings leader was hunting the right-handers on the bank, parking the yellow jersey deep on a bomb to earn a 9.73. “You’ve got to pick your spots and hopefully the waves come and there was a little bit of luck on my side today.”
But the feel good win-of-the-day came from Brazilian injury replacement Tomas Hermes, who posted a 5.07 in the final stages of his heat to pass countrymen Filipe Toledo and Lennox Head’s Adam Melling for his first ever WSL heat victory.
“It looks like there’s so many good waves but it’s really hard to find a good one but I’m so happy to make it through on my last wave,” Hermes said.
Hermes, who has filled Taj Burrow’s absence on tour for the birth of his first child, was ecstatic to advance. “I waited 20 minutes for my first six and then I was like I just need a three, I need to get one!”
Other winners in Round One included Californian wildcard Dane Reynolds, Central Coast surfer Adrian Buchan, and 2001 World Champion CJ Hobgood. With the swell sticking around, Round Two looks set to commence tomorrow. – Jackson Barron.
Top photo from Quiksilver’s Facebook page shows Frenchman Jeremy Flores driving through a wide open cavern in Round One.