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The fourth day of competition in the Quiksilver Pro France had all the highs and lows of competitive sport you could imagine. The absolute joy for Kai Otten as he rode back-to-back barrels to win his heat, to the crushing low felt by current world number one Mick Fanning, after being knocked out by contest wildcard Dane Reynolds.
The day was easily broken into two halves. Clean open barrels early in the morning before a halt in proceedings through the low tide, and then when competition resumed after 3 p.m., there were difficult washing machine conditions until dark.
Emotions ran high all day, as boards were broken and competitors struggled to find scoring waves, while others racked up perfect 10 point rides and top seeds were eliminated.
|Dane Reynolds enroute to the only perfect 10 of the Quik Pro so far.|
Today will prove to be a headache for the elite shapers of the world. The dumping shore break was proving too much for the fine tuned boards with the list of guys heading back to their board builders almost as long as the whole Top 34. It all started during the free surf session with Pat Gudauskas snapping one, then another later in his heat against Joel Parkinson. Michel Bourez completely destroying his board practicing. He left the water carrying three pieces while other pieces washed up on the shore. It was the third board he'd broken this week.
Kolohe Andino, who had already broken six boards this week, snapped another. Kai Otten snapped one and was down to just two back up boards. Fred Patacchia snapped one during his heat, as did Mick Fanning, Bede Durbidge, and Gabriel Medina. The French groms were going wild, chasing the broken pieces up and down the beach.
While boards were being broken, so were dreams of a world title. Yesterday Josh Kerr saw any chances of a title disappear for this year and today only John John Florence and Joel Parkinson advanced to keep their world title chances on track.
Taj Burrow and Mick Fanning will both leave the Quiksilver Pro with "=13th" places against their names. If you consider the quote from Mick Fanning, made early this year: "You need to be placing third or better in every event to win a title," then this doesn't cut it.
John John Florence and Taylor Knox were basically the guinea pigs when the contest re-started mid afternoon. Knox struggled to find any good waves while Florence looked like he was home in Oahu, Hawaii surfing the close outs of Ehukai Beach park.
"It was pretty scary coming up against Taylor," said Florence after his win, "He had a really good heat the other day and the waves were gnarly today and I was getting worked."
Their heat was the rookie vs. the veteran and Florence was mindful of Knox's experience. "It is a bit scary (surfing against Knox) because he has surfed every kind of heat you could ever imagine and he definitely knows what to do in different situations."
|Kolohe Andino slipped passed Taj Burrow and is on the way to the best result of his rookie season.|
When asked if he'd change tactics coming up against somebody with so much experience he answered with a smile. "No that's something I have learnt over the past 12 months -- no matter who I'm up against, I just go out there and surf naturally like I'd normally do."
If there was somebody out there today just 'surfed like they normally do,' then Dane Reynolds would fit that description. He casually worked through the crowd before his heat against Mick Fanning and used the rip to get him out the back. There never seemed to be any hassles for position and Reynolds had one free fall wipeout before he picked off the wave of the event so far. A late airdrop down the face of a solid six-foot wave before landing mid face and somehow piling on the speed as the whole wave barreled over the top of him. People were wondering how he'd even made the drop as he drove through the dredging pit only to emerge with a little fist pump as the white water exploded around him.
The score of a perfect 10 was being read out before the crowd had even stopped clapping. The judges must have punched in 10's while he was still in the barrel.
Reynolds was still smiling about the score and his heat win as he made it back into the official area post heat.
And then came Mr. Understatement: "... it's fun to surf challenging heats like that."
Then when asked to describe the 10 point ride, he started with a laugh: "The board I was riding was kind of short so I didn't really have the paddling power to get into that wave properly. I was late and I actually air dropped the first three feet, (laughing) but once I was down the face it got some good grip and I just seemed to be able to put the foot down and get enough speed to pull me through; it was a fun one."
While Fanning didn't think it was a 'fun' heat, number two in the world, Joel Parkinson comfortably made it through to round four, while Kelly Slater, current number three didn't have to surf today. The Quiksilver Pro could prove to be a turning point in the 2012 World Title race with competition wrapping up as early as Friday.QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE REMAINING ROUND 2 RESULTS: