The Quiksilver Pro France and the Roxy Pro France are upon us. It’s like we’re back at Snapper for the first events of the year again, only there’s no point-break in sight, the locals are friendly, and the food’s quite delicious in a bready, expensive kind of way. France has a lot going for itself.

It has nipples. It gets pretty steamy on the beaches in southern France. Naked people everywhere, mainly older, tanned citizens with arses that look like leather saddlebags and extra bits and pieces of older skin hanging or sticking out. It’s uncomfortable to watch, but there are also some wonderful younger adults who embrace nudity and are very comfortable with their own bodies. 

It has night fun. If you’re not that into nudity, there’s always a rocking nightlife around this event, with all the clubs and pubs coming alive to welcome the pros, their entourages, the groupies and to a lesser extent the backpackers that are in the area and hanging out with their heroes. The nights are long, the parties go till the early hours, and some people get a bit carried away with all the festivities.   

Talking about getting carried away, in the year 2000 Andy Irons and Mick Campbell had a good biff on the beach in front of us. Some sort of name calling and mud-slinging saw The Pelt right hook AI in the pie-hole, and in retaliation Andy tried to bounce his board off Mick’s head, before Kong came running down and broke up the party.     

It has drama. It’s a tense time for competitors in France at this endgame for the tours. Surfers are closing in on qualification cut-offs, and the vultures are circling overhead. For many it’ll be the end of the professional surfing dream after not making the CT yet again, and for others there will be tears when new contracts are brought to the table as brands look for excuses to drop riders for the next season or two. It’s tough out there, and no brand can afford to sponsor middle-distance surfers who sporadically peak in quarterfinals of QS 3,000 events any more. There’s another sponsorship calibration coming, and much of it ties into the upcoming Europe leg.

At the top end there’s the world title run, and much has been said and written about John John, Julian and Jordy, but this event has the ability to rewrite the world title hunt completely. There are a number of surfers in the game, and an outsider win here could see some serious shuffling in the top ten.  

France has waves. Over at the Roxy Pro France the event went all the way to the quarterfinals in great surf today, and the only reason that it didn't go all the way to an event champion because Jesse Miley Diyer reckoned, quite correctly, that ‘there are still days and days left in the waiting period.’

Sally Fitzgibbons dodged a bullet in her quarter against Bianca Buitendag. Putting a solid 8.67 on the table, the South African goofy-footer needed only a 5.1 score to get into the lead against the top-ranked surfer, but she couldn't buy a wave out there in the last four minutes of the heat. It would have been a massive upset but Sally kept her grip on the heat until the end.

The Roxy Pro France ran all the way through to the semi-finals. Full results here