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The ASP Dream Tour has seemed like a worn out cliché over the past few years but the surfing today at the Quiksilver Pro France breathed fresh breath into the tag line.
Dane Reynolds lit up the crowd in his quarterfinal against tour rookie Kolohe Andino. Reynolds paddled off the main break to a barreling right hander over 100 yards to the north and proceeded to get tubed again and again racking up the scores and nearly shutting out Andino, who finished with a 1.27 heat total.
The Joel Parkinson vs. Gabriel Medina was the third quarterfinal and Parkinson showed why he is a serious contender for this year's world title scoring a perfect 10-point ride for a massive open barrel which he virtually soul arched his way through to the delight of the crowd and 10's from all the judges.
"That was the dreamiest barrel you could ever imagine," said Parkinson with a huge grin on his face, "It's the best big shore break in the world," he explained, "You dream of having those type of heats in France with just pumping La Graviere. The conditions out there tonight were unbelievable. I wished my heat was an hour instead of just 30 minutes."
Kelly Slater was out in the last quarter final held as the sun set into the ocean and reveled in the conditions, virtually surfing the perfect heat against the current Pipeline Master, Kieren Perrow. Slater racked up a 10-point ride for one long deep barrel and backed it up with another for a 9.93.
"The waves were so good that literally both guys could have scored two 10's out there," said Slater back on the beach. "There are so many good waves. (Laughing) I was throwing away scores that were better than I've had all contest. It was pumping out there for the last two heats -- the color of the sky, the winds, the tide, the current sort of stopped, the open barrels ... it was perfect."
When told that Parkinson had described conditions as 'a dream' Slater agreed. "The conditions this afternoon are what you dream about when you come to France. You tell people how the waves are here and they go, 'There are waves in France?' and you see it like this and it's some of the best beach breaks in the world."
Slater's heat was run after the sun had gone down and the beach commentators even got the crowd lining the shore to hold up their cell phones to try and light the waves, which turned out to look like some 80s arena rock show.
"I didn't want to come in. It was so good but I hurt my neck (in his round 5 heat) a little earlier so I thought I'd best come in." Slater had hit the bottom during his heat against Adrian Buchan.
"Basically, I got knocked out in my last heat and was completely disorientated," he explained, "I hit the bottom and felt like I'd taken a big hit in the temple. I went over the falls and slammed my head into the bottom and I was kind of unconscious for a few seconds and came up and didn't know where I was."
When I asked if he thought there was any permanent damage, such as a busted eardrum, he laughed and joked saying, "You never know, I've got lots of permanent damage..."
Damage or a knockout blow aside, Slater certainly figured out where he was by the way he surfed his quarterfinal, threading one draining beast after another.
It looks like the event finish tomorrow and the semi final match ups are a promoter's 'dream.' John John Florence will square off against event wild card Dane Reynolds. Then, two world title contenders, Parkinson and Slater, who will go head-to-head in a repeat of the Trestles final just weeks ago. It could wrap up in the morning and regardless of who wins, the 2012 world title race got just tighter.
QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE QUARTERFINALS RESULTS:
QF 1: John John Florence (HAW) 15.33 def. Miguel Pupo (BRA) 2.50
QF 2: Dane Reynolds (USA) 15.20 def. Kolohe Andino (USA) 1.27
QF 3: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 18.83 def. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 12.90
QF 4: Kelly Slater (USA) 19.93 def. Kieren Perrow (AUS) 5.96
QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE ROUND 5 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 12.50 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 10.16
Heat 2: Kolohe Andino (USA) 12.50 def. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 2.07
Heat 3: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 12.60 def. Owen Wright (AUS) 11.00
Heat 4: Kelly Slater (USA) 13.07 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 12.66
QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE ROUND 4 RESULTS:
Heat 1: John John Florence (USA) 16.50, Miguel Pupo (BRA) 15.26, Kolohe Andino (USA) 14.50
Heat 2: Dane Reynolds (USA) 13.86, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 7.34, Michel Bourez (PYF) 3.77
Heat 3: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 12.53, Owen Wright (AUS) 9.90, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 6.97
Heat 4: Kieren Perrow (AUS) 14.40, Kelly Slater (USA) 11.66, Gabriel Medina (BRA) 11.14
QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE REMAINING ROUND 3 RESULTS:
Heat 9: Owen Wright (AUS) 15.40 def. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 8.40
Heat 10: Kieren Perrow (AUS) 12.77 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 10.50
Heat 11: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 11.66 def. Kai Otton (AUS) 9.24
Heat 12: Kelly Slater (USA) 16.27 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 5.70
Thrilling day of barrels sees Quik Pro France down to semifinals