The Quik Pro, France rumbles in the totally-close future. The title race has never looked better (Kelly ain’t dominating for once and there’s a few freckled noses headed for the line), and the Euro beachies always make for exciting uncertainty (kinda like Dane Reynolds’ surfing, also on show at La Grav this weekend). You’ll find no baguette or red wine references here, but instead the men that Stab believes will command beyond the quarters. Do you agree, or no? Do tell.
Mick leads this year, by a stretch! All those firsts and thirds are a warm blanket. He won France in ’09 and ’10 and, even more importantly, knows he’s gotta keep it tight in the biz end of tour. “Kelly and I both knew what was going on and if I got on top from there the title race would have just been further away,” said Mick after losing to Kelly at Lowers. “The ocean didn’t really cooperate with me, but a third is a keeper. It’s another result I don’t have to worry about.”
He won last year. Does he need more reason than that to be a favourite? If there’s a wind blowing into any kinda left, as there was in last year’s final, expect some more loopy rotations. Though they’re losing traction with the judges quickly, the right inversion will always scoop points in the excellent ride-range. And that’s all the kid needs.
Kelly ain’t so sentimental that he’ll leave on a 50th win. Y’kidding? Fifty-one is better than 50! Fifty-two, even more divine! We dare not count the King outta this list. He just won the Hurley Pro and knows better than anyone what he needs to stay in the race. “My back is against the wall to be honest,” Kelly said at Lowers. “Every heat is really important if I want to be in the title race at the end of the year. I don’t really have any room to move after missing Brazil and just a stupid mistake in Tahiti where Ricardo got me. Those are my two throwaways for the year, but sometimes that’s good though. It helps you keep your focus. I’ve just got to make the right choices and hope I don’t get smashed by someone early on.”
Johnny proved in Rio that it ain’t just big barrels he blossoms in. He’s also dangerous in shifting beachies. And, La Graviere is a shifting beachie! Did you even realise he’d snuck to fourth in the title rankings? John’s way more competitive than he lets on and is gunning for a title, make no mistake. France is a real powdery bullet in the chamber. He also just won the Kustom Airstrike and was gifted $50k (handed over in person by Tony Hawk), if that counts for anything towards confidence levels.
Allow us this little indulgence. It’s only a matter of time until the world’s most exciting surfer wins an event, is it not? His surfing doesn’t suit a jersey, this we know, but that doesn’t make the concept any less thrilling. Dane certainly has the talent to win any event. The question is, how hard will he try?
Jules likes to win and the bitterness of last year’s second place still sours his palette. The delight this kid takes from sand-bottomed walls and wedges, you couldn’t imagine. Lefts? Jules’ backside finners are some of the best on tour. Rights? Oops and air-revs, straight-consummate, thanks. Sprinkle some varials, full rotes and good face work on top and you’ve got the complete pie. “I have so many amazing memories of watching this event as a kid seeing Andy and Kelly go for it,” said Jules after last year’s final. “And to be in it now is a very special feeling.”