It’s all eyes on the Quiksilver Pro France, and it was a long day!
The fifth round ran to completion and them Jessi and Kieren decided on a swap so the Roxy Pro went out. Before that was finished, with the title race still running, it was a jump back to the quarterfinals.
In the first quarter it was Aussie Matt Banting against Keanu Asing from Hawaii. Both these two surfers have great auras and vibes about them, but perhaps this is why they both have poor contest records this year thus far. It might be that they’re too nice. This quarter was evenly matched, and both of them were going as hard as they could, but it went the way of a very, very stoked Hawaiian and a pretty stoked Australian. If you’re having a shit year, there’s nothing wrong with a fifth place finish at a Championship Tour event. Keanu was humble in his win, and praised our boy, but was frothed up for the semi. He’ll come up against ….
No Aussie, so let’s choose John John as our honorary Aussie in a heat against Filipe Toledo. They are two of the world’s best and most progressive surfers in the world in waves, which are not bad for airs. Is it being facetious by choosing JJF? I think not, it’s random, because Filipe’s name conjures up just as much progressive excitement and above-the-lip possibility as John John. As it turned out, the heat went pretty slow at the critical time, and neither of then could really blow up out there. Both were trying hard, John John our honorary Aussie snuck into the lead, and Filipe could not find another score out there. he went for three air reverses on three different waves at the end, and he made two, but a single air reverse on a smaller wave does not make for convincing wins at this level. It was with bated breath that we waited for something massive to emerge from the heat, but it was not going to be. Nothing even close to the Super heat of Stu Kennedy, John John and Gabby the day before emerged, and John John advanced mildly to the semifinals, retaining his yellow jersey in the process.
In quarterfinal three we had Gabriel Medina up against Julian Wilson. The immediate memory that comes to mind is Julian beating Gabriel in the dying moments of the final in Portugal, and with Gabby having a little driz on stage before walking off in a huff. At the time it was poor sportsmanship but he has come a long way since then and despite a few little wobbles on social media, has pretty much gown up and become a world tour sportsman and brand ambassador. Still, it was with a wry smile that I watched this, knowing that Julian was undoubtedly champing at the bit for another win and for that opportunity of making Medina squirm again. It never happened, and Medina took the win and the ride into the semi-finals with confidence.
The final quarterfinal was just unfortunate, with Kai Otton a little bit hoodwinked by the changing conditions and not figuring out that the left rip bowl would have probably given him the scores he needed against Kolohe. He tried the rights on his backhand; he came close to the score, but was left wanting at the final buzzer for the day. Kai always looks good in Europe and if it really his swansong he’s probably still going to finish off with something good. Watch that man. Kolohe did look hungry however, showing more determination and flair, and he does seem to be fitting into his skin a bit better these days, happy and confident and less of an imp than before.
So in essence the Aussies took a dive, and only our honorary took the win. Still, hats of to Mat Banting, Julian Wilson and Kai Otton for their 5th place finishes.
…Talking of imps, rumour has it that Kelly Slater and Mick Fanning have both, on separate occasions and unconnected, had a friendly little chat with Gabriel Medina and asked him to please grow up and act more like a champion and stop moaning so much, and leave the social media whining for the kids…