Michel Bourez And Jeremy Flores Win Inaugural Edition Of The Quiksilver Festival in France
Turns out you can have your cake and eat it too.
Les Landes is home to the largest man-made forest in Europe. A region sparsely inhabited until the 19th century, would eventually become one of Europe’s preferred coastal resorts, and subsequently, a prime surfing destination. Suffice it to say, the ‘build it and they will come’ ethos has a healthy track record in the region, and Jeremy Flores’ efforts to bring back elite surfing to the area are no different from those of the past.
Blessed with a non-stop run of incredible surf, the inaugural edition of the Quiksilver Festival (aka Le Jeremy Flores Invitational) gave away clear indications that the event might become a fixture on next year’s calendar.
Its only major flaw and inevitable source of internet whinge is the glaring lack of a live webcast. I’m told that as a mobile event, the crew prioritized moving swiftly between locations if needed, and the infrastructure required for an HD live broadcast would significantly slow things down.
In an unexpected pivot, the third day revisited both ‘Best Combo’ and ‘Best Turn’ categories. Perhaps the biggest takeaway here is that by avoiding a prescriptive format, surfers could have more room to showcase their versatility, reacting to the conditions on offer rather than forcing their will on them.
What followed was primarily a clinic on how to expertly weasel your way out of barrels. Distinguished lecturers included Michel Bourez, Vasco Ribeiro, Coco Ho, Kael Walsh, the spellbinding Mr. Marzo, and the French duo of Jeremy Flores and Marc Lacomare, both posting up ten point rides in the same heat, and winning $5,000 watches for their respective waves.
In the subsequent heat, Aritz Aranburu came remarkably close to taking Breitling out of business with a 9.33 for another textbook tube and a stab at the end section.
For Finals day, another adjustment to the format: instead of running the ‘Best Air & Barrel’ category, Miky Picon sent surfers out for the “Twin Fin Challenge” (which might as well be called the “2+1 Challenge”). Only one round of competition was called instead of the pre-established two.
With offshore drainers on tap, barrels remained the day’s theme, with Al Cleland pretty much stealing the show in the morning with a solid supporting act by Joan Duru and teammate Marc Lacomare — one of the in-form surfers of the event and beachbreak burrow savant.
Josh Kerr and Noa Deane traded back-to-back barrels. Kerr’s ride was a 10 though, sprinkled with a searing hack and an end-section reverse. Surfing in the twin fin division must have felt like fishing with dynamite for the Gold Coaster.
Mikey Wright tucked into a crispy one for a long barrel, followed by a signature grab-rail s-turn into the flats, and back onto the face to milk the rest of it.
Sierra Kerr, CJ Hobgood, Vasco Ribeiro, and Jeremy Flores all provided some of the most crowd-pleasing moments of the afternoon.
Nickelback’s ‘How You Remind Me’ marked the start of the final heat on a scorching summer day. By then, Team Bourez/Flores had already secured the top position on the leaderboard, and the heat in the water had no implication on the final standing of the event winning duo. The title stays in France.
At the award ceremony, the feedback was unanimous: Jeremy’s intention of bringing back the “surfing from the old days” was highly praised. The wave quality certainly didn’t hurt, and the no-losers format took away the seriousness commonly seen on the faces of those wearing noise-canceling headphones on stationary bikes.
Most competitors I had the chance to chat with likened this event to an opulent holiday. Set up in palatial suites in one of the finest hotels in the region, and traveling around the area in AMG-kitted Mercedes, some kept pinching themselves at the golf star pampering they’ve been showered with, while somewhere, Matthew McGillivray rubs the sleep from his eyes in the back of a pick-up truck. In fact, some even asked to keep their 761-horsepower toys for a little longer and stay in town to make the most of the upcoming run of swell.
Take away the rashies, and this event is purely free-surfing for a surf-loving audience. Some of the best waves of the contest were ridden before or after the horn; still, both surfers’ and the crowd’s reactions were one and the same. The energy was contagious, and everyone was in high spirits (or just high) from start to finish.
Pardon the cliché, but everybody won.
Session 5 Results:
Team 1 – Michel Bourez/Jeremy Flores: 6.17 + 7.10
Team 2 – Noa Deane/Balaram Stack: 5.50 + 2.30
Team 3 – Kael Walsh/Mikey Wright: 6.00 + 2.27
Team 4 – Aritz Aranburu/Vasco Ribeiro: 5.17 + 7.50
Team 5 – CJ Hobgood/Adriano de Souza: 3.50 + 3.67
Team 6 – Shane Dorian/Jackson Dorian: 3.43 + 5.83
Team 7 – Josh Kerr/Sierra Kerr: 5.90 + 6.27
Team 8 – Maud Le Car/Sam Piter: 2.83 + 6.47
Team 9 – Dimity Stoyle/Laura Enever: 2.67 + 6.10
Team 10 – Coco Ho/Mason Ho: 9.00 + 5.17
Team 11 – Joan Duru/Marc Lacomare: 5.33 + 6.60
Team 12 – Vahiné Fierro/Kauli Vaast: N/A*
Team 13 – Al Cleland/Clay Marzo: 0.00 + 7.90
Session 6 Results:
Team 1 – Michel Bourez/Jeremy Flores: 5.07 + 10
Team 2 – Noa Deane/Balaram Stack: 2.67 + 5.17
Team 3 – Kael Walsh/Mikey Wright: 2.17 + 2.57
Team 4 – Aritz Aranburu/Vasco Ribeiro: 9.33 + 7.13
Team 5 – CJ Hobgood/Adriano de Souza: 6.30 + 2.33
Team 6 – Shane Dorian/Jackson Dorian: 5.27 + 2.40
Team 7 – Josh Kerr/Sierra Kerr: 9.13 + 7.67
Team 8 – Maud Le Car/Sam Piter: 5.83 + 2.33
Team 9 – Dimity Stoyle/Laura Enever: 3.07 + 2.00
Team 10 – Coco Ho/Mason Ho: 3.17 + 2.33
Team 11 – Joan Duru/Marc Lacomare: 8.20 + 10
Session 7 Results:
Team 1 – Michel Bourez/Jeremy Flores: 3.67 + 8.93
Team 2 – Noa Deane/Balaram Stack: 9.33 + 2.50
Team 3 – Kael Walsh/Mikey Wright: 3.77 + 9.27
Team 4 – Aritz Aranburu/Vasco Ribeiro: 5.50 + 8.87
Team 5 – CJ Hobgood/Adriano de Souza: 8.60 + 2.23
Team 6 – Shane Dorian/Jackson Dorian: 3.33 + 5.90
Team 7 – Josh Kerr/Sierra Kerr: 10 + 8.23
Team 8 – Maud Le Car/Sam Piter: 3.33 + 7.93
Team 9 – Dimity Stoyle/Laura Enever: 7.10 + 4.23
Team 10 – Coco Ho/Mason Ho: 4.00 + 2.50
Team 11 – Joan Duru/Marc Lacomare: 8.00 + 8.50
- Team 1 – Michel Bourez/Jeremy Flores: 92.14
- Team 11 – Joan Duru/Marc Lacomare: 91.99
- Team 13 – Al Cleland/Clay Marzo: 82.92
- Team 7 – Josh Kerr/Sierra Kerr: 82.20
- Team 4 – Aritz Aranburu/Vasco Ribeiro: 79.49
- Team 5 – CJ Hobgood/Adriano de Souza: 64.82
- Team 8 – Maud Le Car/Sam Piter: 63.49
- Team 10 – Coco Ho/Mason Ho: 62.34
- Team 6 – Shane Dorian/Jackson Dorian: 61.32
- Team 2 – Noa Deane/Balaram Stack: 60.97
- Team 3 – Kael Walsh/Mikey Wright: 54.17
- Team 9 – Dimity Stoyle/Laura Enever: 46.07
- Team 12 – Vahiné Fierro/Kauli Vaast: 21.33
*Team 12 withdrew from competition to travel and prepare for the upcoming Challenger Series event in Portugal.
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