Mick Fanning: or should he be Mick France?

The greatest assemblage of surfing talent in history has converged on the European continent for Stop No. 7 of 10 on the 2010 ASP World Tour, the Quiksilver Pro France from September 25 through October 5, 2010.

With excellent swell projected for the beginning of the waiting period, the ASP Top 34 could begin battle as soon as tomorrow in the punchy beachbreaks of Southwest France.

Mick Fanning (AUS), 29, reigning ASP World Champion and defending Quiksilver Pro Champion, reinvigorated his 2010 ASP World Title campaign with an Equal 3rd in California last week and will look to build upon this result through Europe.

“I am really excited,” Fanning said. “It was a big confidence booster making the Semis at Trestles last week, especially the way everyone surfed. I need to win the next events pretty much and those guys (in the ASP World Title race) to not do too much. Dane (Reynolds) is also one of those guys that people may forget about even though he’s in fourth. These are conditions he’s going to excel in.”

Fanning will face Taylor Knox (USA), 29, and Gabe Kling (USA), 30, in the opening round of competition.

Jordy Smith (ZAF), 21, current ASP World No. 2, is having a career year in 2010, even holding the leader spot in the hunt for the ASP World Title prior to the last event at Lower Trestles where an equipment malfunction halted the young South African’s run.

“The unfortunate scenario with our equipment is that nothing is guarantied when having to change to new equipment on such short notice,” Smith said. “One has to trust one’s instincts in hoping to tune into new equipment straight off the bat. I broke both my good boards and had little time to test the new ones, which seemed to be working fine up until that heat. Nevertheless, I am all set for Europe with a new batch of boards which I will run through shortly at the venue.”

Hot on the heels of former nine-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA), 38, Smith will look to gain some ground throughout the European leg.

“Regarding the ASP World title race with Kelly, it only means that one will have to work that much harder,” Smith said. “We all are aware that Kelly is seeking his tenth title so he will be going out all the waycome hell or high water. In saying that, he is the true master, the Bruce Lee of surfing. However, I feel that the race is still wide open as we start the countdown of the next events oncoming events and their will be a few others up in the Top 10 placing that will be giving him a run for his money, including myself.In saying that, no one knows what tomorrow brings us, so I will carry on doing what I set out to do, which is just having fun with it and hoping that destiny prevails on my side through the rest of this year.”

Smith battles Luke Stedman (AUS), 34, and wildcard Julian Wilson (AUS), 21, in Round 1 of the Quiksilver Pro France.

Taj Burrow (AUS), 32, current ASP World No. 3, has been in sensational form this season and his reputation as one of the most progressive surfers of all time has only been further cemented this year.

“I've never won France so to tick that off the list would be unreal,” Burrow said. “The beachies here are the best in the world. I lost to Mick (Fanning) in the Quarters last year and for me it's Semi or better before I call it a keeper result so I'm just focusing on that. We have back-to-back events until Hawaii – it's a grueling few months on the road for sure. If you can get on a roll here, it basically sets up a world title. I'm itching to get to the Search event, I've heard whispers of a slabby right in warm water which sounds unbelievable.”

Burrow raced out to an early lead in the hunt for the 2010 ASP World Title race, but uncharacteristic stumbles in Brazil and Tahiti have relegated the Western Australian to his current position at ASP World No. 3.

“I need to win events, simple as that,” Burrow said. “I've burned my two throwaways so I can't afford a bad result in Europe, but I'm not getting hung up on it. I'm just enjoying being on tour right now.”

A proponent of the enhanced performance of the new ASP World Tour competitive format, Burrow is excited to see the continued results throughout the next few events.

“It was good to mix it up for sure, the three-man fourth round is awesome,” Burrow said. “To win that round and only surf four times on the last day instead of five is a huge advantage. Everyone went mad at Trestles and the level of surfing was through the roof.”

Burrow will take on Adam Melling (AUS), 25, and Travis Logie (ZAF), 31, in the opening round of the Quiksilver Pro France.

The Quiksilver Pro France will be the second event to activate the new 36-man ASP World Tour fomat.

ASP WORLD TOUR 36-MAN FORMAT:
Round 1: 12 three-man heats, 1st advances to Round 3, 2nd and 3rd to Round 2
Round 2: 12 man-on-man heats, 1st to Round 3, 2nd is Equal 25th place
Round 3: 12 man-on-man heats, 1st to Round 4, 2nd is Equal 13th place
Round 4: Four 3-man heats, 1st advances to Quarterfinals, 2nd and 3rd to Round 5
Round 5: Four man-on-man heats, 1st advances to Quarterfinals, 2nd is Equal 9th
Quarterfinals: Four man-on-man heats, 1st advances to Semifinals, 2nd is Equal 5th
Semifinals: Two man-on-man heats, 1st advances to Finals, 2nd is Equal 3rd
Final: One man-on-man heat, 1st and 2nd

The Quiksilver Pro France commences its waiting period commences on September 25 and runs through October 5, 2010.

When competition commences, up first will be Bede Durbidge (AUS), 27, Jeremy Flores (FRA), 22, and Daniel Ross (AUS), 27, in the opening heat of Round 1.

QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE ROUND 1 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1:Bede Durbidge (AUS), Jeremy Flores (FRA), Daniel Ross (AUS)
Heat 2:Dane Reynolds (USA), Kieren Perrow (AUS), Luke Munro (AUS)
Heat 3:Taj Burrow (AUS), Adam Melling (AUS), Travis Logie (ZAF)
Heat 4:Mick Fanning (AUS), Taylor Knox (USA), Gabe Kling (USA)
Heat 5:Jordy Smith (ZAF), Luke Stedman (AUS), Julian Wilson (AUS)
Heat 6:Kelly Slater (USA), Patrick Gudauskas (USA), Maxime Huscenot (REU)
Heat 7:Adriano de Souza (BRA), Chris Davidson (AUS), Brett Simpson (USA)
Heat 8:C.J. Hobgood (USA), Michel Bourez (PYF), Tom Whitaker (AUS)
Heat 9: Adrian Buchan (AUS), Jadson Andre (BRA), Matt Wilkinson (AUS)
Heat 10:Owen Wright (AUS), Tiago Pires (PRT), Roy Powers (HAW)
Heat 11:Damien Hobgood (USA), Fredrick Patacchia (HAW), Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 12:Andy Irons (HAW), Bobby Martinez (USA), Kai Otton (AUS)


SOURCE: ASP World Tour