Quiksilver Pro France Preview

The ASP Elite Prepare for the European Leg of the 2011 World Tour.

As the dust settles from the Hurley Pro, the ASP Top 34 head out to the pounding barrels of Hossegor, France. The Quiksilver Pro France scored some heavy pits last year, and this year contest organizers are hoping for the same. The mobile contest is set up to take advantage of the tide-sensitive sandbars that produce shifting peaks from La Penon to La Piste. But everyone knows the best break in Hossegor is La Graviere, or “The Gravel” in English, named after the coarse sand that delivers the best barrels in Europe.

Last years Quik Pro France got lucky with some of the biggest barrels ever surfed in a European contest. Hopefully, La Graviere will produce the same this year.

The fans come in droves to see the Quiksilver Pro France. It is one of the few places on tour that spectators can get right on the water's edge to check out the action.

At this point in the season, after 7 out of 11 events, the race for the World Title is shaping up with two clear contenders. Those two are Kelly Slater and Owen Wright. Joel Parkinson and Adriano De Souza are still in the mix, and there is a mathematical chance for Kerr, Burrow, and Fanning. But it’s clearly a Slater and Wright show now, and the new rivals head to France after a record three consecutive final appearances together. I will be shocked if both of them are not in the quarters. Both are competent in whatever the ocean throws at them, so swell conditions are irrelevant. It is their competitive drive that takes them to the finals, and a little skill I guess.

Sequence: Kelly Slater could run away from Owen with a win in France. With late drops like this, Owen better bring his A-game.

The ASP mid-year cut was after New York, so this will be the second event for newcomers Gabriel Medina, Miguel Pupo, and John John Florence. While Medina and Pupo are well known for their aerial acrobatics, they will have to show off their tube riding skills if they hope to stand a chance if La Graviere is macking. Medina just re-signed a multi-year deal with his longtime sponsor Rip Curl, so you can bet he will want to make them appreciate their investment. John John on the other hand has it all. He has arguably one of the best air repertoires on the planet and big tube riding skills to match. If the waves are like last year, John John will make the quarters easily and upset some Top 10 rated surfers along the way.

John John Florence will be a threat if conditions are like they were at the Mr. Price Pro in South Africa (pictured here) last May. Which are the same conditions he is used to at his home break of Backdoor.

Depending on the swell, and it’s been huge in France of late, there are a few other standouts that come to mind. Adriano De Souza will be in the thick of things no matter what the swell is doing. Nobody can contain his drive to win and sheer energy. Josh Kerr will be a threat no matter the size. If its small he will take to the air. If its big he will get slotted in deep tubes. Mick Fanning is the reigning Quik Pro France Champion and can defend his title in any size swell. Taj Burrow needs a win. If it is head high, then you can count on Taj making a big push to the podium. If the waves are huge again this year, then regular-foot chargers like Michel Bourez, Dan Ross, Taylor Knox, Dusty Payne, Raoni Monteiro, and local boy Jeremy Flores will be hard to beat. If the lefts are working, then goofy-foots like Freddy P., Ace Buchan, Damo Hobgood, and Matt Wilkinson will be on fire.

Fanning weaving his way to victory at last years event.

Mick has not had a win this year. In fact last years Quik Pro France was the last time he saw the podium.

MIchel Bourez is not afraid of anything that Hossegor may throw at him.

Dan Ross stands 6'2", so guesstimate the size of this tube.

Adrian Buchan will be one to watch if the lefts are working. He caught some bombs last year.

My dark-horse pick for the event is none other than Julian Wilson. He had so much momentum going into the semis at Trestles. If he hadn’t gone on that wave with Owen and got the interference then it might have been him standing on the podium with Slater. Julian is the complete package, a new-age Parko if you will. He has airs in his back pocket, the smooth flowing style of Parko, and the competitive fire of a warrior that has missed out on victory. Hungry? Julian’s mindset at France will be the definition of hungry. And that’s what it takes to win an event. You have to want it! – Ryan Richardson

Julian Wilson is overdue for a huge result and France could be the win he has been waiting for. He is more than capable in the barrel and has style, power, and an aerial bag of tricks to match. I predict a quarter final appearance for Julian. Here he is at the Billabong Pro J-Bay last July.

Check out the Quiksilver Pro France next week. The waiting period starts on October 4th and ends on the 13th.

All photos courtesy ASP Images.

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