After surviving this morning's five-hour fog delay, the Quiksilver Pro France resumed in clean three-to-five foot (1 – 1.5 metre) conditions at La Graviere, completing Rounds 4 and 5 of competition.
Event No. 8 of 11 on the 2011 ASP World Title series, the Quiksilver Pro France bore witness to some impressive surfing this afternoon with the Quarterfinalists being determined in picturesque conditions.
Taj Burrow (AUS), 33, current No. 6 on the ASP World Title rankings, blitzed his afternoon Round 4 heat today, comboing both Owen Wright (AUS), 21, and Damien Hobgood (USA), 32, with explosive surfing on his backhand and forehand.
“I did have fun in that heat,” Burrow said. “It went my way towards the end and I got some really nice rights and some good lefts too. I'm sure Owen (Wright) would have loved to have been on a couple of those lefts as they really lined up nicely. It felt great to post some good scores and hopefully the conditions remain fun and consistent for the rest of the event.”
Burrow will take on Julian Wilson (AUS), 22, in Quarterfinal 4.
Kelly Slater (USA), 39, reigning 10-time ASP World Champion, continued his surgical dismantling of the La Graviere peaks today, generating unmatched speed and flow to claim his Round 4 victory and advance directly into the Quarterfinals.
“The waves are pretty fun out there and I have a good board under my feet,” Slater said. “I guess I'm comfortable out there. I've been coming to France for so many years that I'm used to the waves here and I know what to look for when it's changing.”
The current ASP World No. 1 was characteristically hesitant when probed about his 2011 ASP World Title campaign.
“Quarterfinals is another good result for me and a lot of the guys that were threatening have fallen out early in this event,” Slater said. “I haven't worked the numbers out, but they may be too far behind at this point. Owen (Wright) is obviously still in there and he's really strong at the remaining events so I wouldn't be surprised if it came down to the wire. There is still a lot that can happen.”
Slater will face Gabriel Medina (BRA), 17, when Quiksilver Pro France competition resumes. Medina advanced directly through Round 5 of competition after Jeremy Flores (FRA), 23, withdrew from the event following an ankle injury sustained in Round 3.
Jordy Smith (ZAF), 23, back in his first event since sustaining a rib injury in Tahiti, caused a major upset today, ousting current No. 2 Owen Wright (AUS), 21, from competition in Round 5 and shaking the 2011 ASP World Title race to its core.
“I had a great time out there,” Smith said. “I just approached it as a free surf. Obviously, Owen (Wright) is in the title race and he has a bit of pressure on him. My girlfriend actually gave me the best advice as I didn't have the best heat before. She said, ‘babe, if it ain't working, change it up.' That's what I did and it worked really well.”
Alejo Muniz (BRA), 21, and Julian Wilson (AUS), 22, continued their ASP Rookie of the Year battle, both battling through Rounds 4 and 5 and into the Quarterfinals.
Michel Bourez (PYF), 25, current No. 10 on the ASP World Title rankings, continued his solid run at La Graviere, posting an impressive 14.57 out of a possible 20 for powerfully dismantling the clean lefts and rights on offer this afternoon.
“This is a huge relief for me,” Bourez said. “It's my best result of the year so far. I started the season with five ninths in a row so I'm very happy to finally crack the Quarterfinals. I'm feeling healthy and strong and hopefully we continue to get fun waves for the rest of the competition.”
Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow morning at 8am to assess conditions for a possible 8:30am start.
When competition resumes, up first will be Michel Bourez (PYF), 25, and Taylor Knox (USA), 40, in Quarterfinal 1.
Highlights from the Quiksilver Pro France will be available via http://www.quiksilverlive.com
QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE ROUND 4 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Michel Bourez (PYF) 14.57, Taylor Knox (USA) 11.17, Jeremy Flores (FRA) N/S
Heat 2: Kelly Slater (USA) 15.83, Gabriel Medina (BRA) 15.80, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 7.83
Heat 3: Alejo Muniz (BRA) 13.10, Jordy Smith (ZAF) 11.10, Julian Wilson (AUS) 10.03
Heat 4: Taj Burrow (AUS) 17.43, Damien Hobgood (USA) 14.13, Owen Wright (AUS) 11.10
QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE ROUND 5 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Taylor Knox (USA) 13.50 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 12.53
Heat 2: Gabriel Medina (BRA) Advances Over Jeremy Flores (FRA) *Flores withdraws due to ankle injury sustained in Round 3 of competition.
Heat 3: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 14.74 def. Owen Wright (AUS) 10.53
Heat 4: Julian Wilson (AUS) 15.16 def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 9.86
QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE QUARTERFINAL MATCH-UPS:
QF 1: Michel Bourez (PYF) vs. Taylor Knox (USA)
QF 2: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Gabriel Medina (BRA)
QF 3: Alejo Muniz (BRA) vs. Jordy Smith (ZAF)
QF 4: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. Julian Wilson (AUS)