Maxed Out In France - Stab Mag

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Jackson Dorian on the wave of the day. Photo: Seb Picaud

Maxed Out In France

Massive swell provides both ample playing field and entertainment for second day of competition at the Quiksilver Festival.

news // Sep 28, 2023
Words by Pedro Ramos
Reading Time: 6 minutes

The sun doesn’t really set until after 8 PM this time of the year in SW France, which doesn’t necessarily mean that there are enough hours in a day.

Action at the Quiksilver Festival doesn’t really stop when the horn announces the final heat of the afternoon. There are countless parties, events, premieres, screenings, and no matter how much you try to hide somewhere for a relaxing moment, someone will find you and pull you back into the madness of it all.

What follows is an attempt to succinctly compress what happened on the second day of competition. For those who prefer their news in moving image and sound, Stace Galbraith is back with Baguette TV, the follow-up to Jungle TV. Access all the Quik Fest BTS content here.

Keeping things simple and making the most of a building swell that was expected to double in size later in the day, today’s format asked both a little and a lot from surfers: take off on a wave and do the biggest possible maneuver. Only rail turns apply.

Aritz Aranburu trying to play by the rules. Photo: Ben Potier

But the North Atlantic had other plans, and the morning session became, essentially, a tube-riding affair.

Josh Kerr started his first run with a long, textbook tube ride and a full rail turn that would’ve perfectly fit yesterday’s criteria but worked just as well for today’s.

Balaram pulled into a well overhead closeout, back to the wall and hands by his side, to the hoots of the peanut gallery.

Pascuales alumni Al Cleland made his way out of a proper drainer for an 8.3.

Kael Walsh placed himself inside what looked like a Kirra wave and, against the crowd’s will, decided to stay in there for good.

Noa Deane was calling today ‘Backdoor without the rocks’. Josh Kerr on a North Shore reminiscent orb. Photo: Ben Potier

Things went quiet for a while, and lulls were becoming more frequent, until Sam Piter split a peak with CJ Hobgood. Pulling into a throaty long barrel on the right, the local grom brought the home crowd out of a slumber with a 9.43.

With the tide at its lowest, the long-period west swell was creating an excessive number of closeouts, which weren’t ideal for those looking to place powerful turns on the crisp offshore faces.

How do you even mind-surf this? Photo: Ben Potier

Michel Bourez, a serious threat in the “Best Turn” category, dug into a bomb, set his line for one of the best tubes of the day, got spat out, and found another one. The Spartan fires two sure shots for a 9.5.

Jackson Dorian took off on the bomb of the day, flew through its inside, and came very close to doggy dooring it before a good portion of the Atlantic Ocean shut him down. A huge moment nevertheless.

Michel Bourez. Photo: Ben Potier

The comp went on hold at the completion of Session 3, and Miky Picon decided to reconvene with the surfers to decide whether or not to follow through with Session 4 at the main site or move the action to La Gravière. The lineup was empty for a minute, and a diminutive Hughie Vaughn sprinted down the beach to paddle out solo, throwing himself into a couple 8-foot closeouts while coffee, teas, and viennoiseries were inhaled at the competitors’ area.

At this stage, the swell had more than doubled in size, and among the occasional bombs, a lot of closeout sets and washthroughs served as a “No Trespassing” sign for most.

North of the comp site, someone was consistently seen wrestling foam balls but losing most bouts, until there was a make. Upon closer inspection, that someone was Aritz Aranburu.

Meanwhile, in the surfers’ area, Picon asked if anyone objected to surf the increasingly challenging conditions. An awkward silence hovered between competitors, almost as if they’d been asked who didn’t clean the skid marks off the communal toilet.

They went. Photo: Marie Pfisterer

The contest goes on, Shane Dorian takes a guillotine to the head, and behind him, Clay Marzo lays back into the face of a right for a gem of a tube. A minute later, he does exactly the same. The crowd loves it. To my side, on dry land, a French man explains to his friends how Marzo does it by re-enacting his layback tube stance.

Again, Clay in the barrel, Clay out of the barrel. Then, a massive bomb comes straight at him, stroking into it, he slows himself down, gets comfy in the spacious tube, and comes out to the roar of the crowd for a 9.1. Clay seemed to be loving these conditions, that didn’t really seem to go anybody else’s way. “Like a pig in poop,” exclaimed Evans.

Clay Marzo, again and again. Photo: Ben Potier

If yesterday, Mikey Wright was putting his all into landing massive airs, today he packed massive closeout after massive closeout in search of one that wouldn’t get away. A for effort/entertainment value.

Mason Ho, a definite crowd favorite, awakened his Pipeline muscle memory with a stylish pigdog to roundhouse in increasingly big surf.

“That mullet flapping in the brisk offshore beautifully.” An excerpt from The Collected Poetry of Paul Evans. Photo: Seb Picaud

Just before high tide, Les Culs Nus was doing a convincing North Shore impersonation. On the outer sandbars, jet ski-assisted surfers were having a field day on the empty peaks. At the beach, cameras, backpacks, umbrellas, and tourists were being sent up the dune by the surges.

Heats weren’t starting until every surfer was taxied out to the lineup by the ski drivers. An impatient Josh Kerr took off on a bomb and stood tall through one of the best barrels of the day on his rounded pin twinny. The score didn’t count, but everyone’s day got better for seeing that wave ridden.

His daughter Sierra, one of the youngest surfers in the comp, showed a lot of comfort out there, dropping into a massive right, and only narrowly mistiming what could’ve been one of the best tubes of the afternoon.

Sierra Kerr charged. Photo: Ben Potier

Hughie Vaughn made a cameo as Coco Ho, who withdrew from her afternoon session, and presented a strong case for receiving an invitation to next year’s edition of the Quiksilver Festival.

The Quiksilver Festival resumes tomorrow at 8AM CEST at Les Culs Nus, Hossegor.

Session 3 Results:

Team 1 – Michel Bourez/Jeremy Flores: 9.50 + 1.67
Team 2 – Noa Deane/Balaram Stack: 5.40 + 2.33
Team 3 – Kael Walsh/Mikey Wright: 4.63 + 3.83
Team 4 – Aritz Aranburu/Vasco Ribeiro: 4.83 + 4.00
Team 5 – CJ Hobgood/Adriano de Souza: 5.50 + 3.83
Team 6 – Shane Dorian/Jackson Dorian: 4.40 + 4.50
Team 7 – Josh Kerr/Sierra Kerr: 6.33 + 2.00
Team 8 – Maud Le Car/Sam Piter: 1.73 + 9.43
Team 9 – Dimity Stoyle/Laura Enever: 2.50 + 3.70
Team 10 – Coco Ho/Mason Ho: 2.00 + 5.87
Team 11 – Joan Duru/Marc Lacomare: 2.80 + 6.00
Team 12 – Vahiné Fierro/Kauli Vaast: N/A*
Team 13 – Al Cleland/Clay Marzo: 8.30 + 1.30

Session 4 Results:

Team 1 – Michel Bourez/Jeremy Flores: 5.93 + 2.00
Team 2 – Noa Deane/Balaram Stack: 3.07 + 2.80
Team 3 – Kael Walsh/Mikey Wright: 5.53 + 4.67
Team 4 – Aritz Aranburu/Vasco Ribeiro: 1.90 + 2.73
Team 5 – CJ Hobgood/Adriano de Souza: 2.40 + 4.90
Team 6 – Shane Dorian/Jackson Dorian: 2.83 + 4.83
Team 7 – Josh Kerr/Sierra Kerr: 3.23 + 4.50
Team 8 – Maud Le Car/Sam Piter: 2.80 + 2.53
Team 9 – Dimity Stoyle/Laura Enever: 0.00 + 1.43
Team 10 – Coco Ho/Mason Ho: 0.00 + 7.43
Team 11 – Joan Duru/Marc Lacomare: 4.33 + 3.77
Team 12 – Vahiné Fierro/Kauli Vaast: N/A*
Team 13 – Al Cleland/Clay Marzo: 3.77 + 9.16


  1. Team 1 – Michel Bourez/Jeremy Flores: 51.20
  2. Team 13 – Al Cleland/Clay Marzo: 45.89
  3. Team 11 – Joan Duru/Marc Lacomare: 45.36
  4. Team 5 – CJ Hobgood/Adriano de Souza: 38.19
  5. Team 10 – Coco Ho/Mason Ho: 36.17
  6. Team 4 – Aritz Aranburu/Vasco Ribeiro: 35.99
  7. Team 6 – Shane Dorian/Jackson Dorian: 35.16
  8. Team 7 – Josh Kerr/Sierra Kerr: 35.00
  9. Team 8 – Maud Le Car/Sam Piter: 34.77
  10. Team 2 – Noa Deane/Balaram Stack: 33.50
  11. Team 3 – Kael Walsh/Mikey Wright: 28.12
  12. Team 12 – Vahiné Fierro/Kauli Vaast: 21.33
  13. Team 9 – Dimity Stoyle/Laura Enever: 20.90

*Team 12 withdrew from competition to travel and prepare for the upcoming Challenger Series event in Portugal.


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