Kelly Slater: très bien

A mammoth day of action has been completed with the Quiksilver Pro France running Rounds 3, 4 and 5 in pumping four-to-six foot (2 metre) waves at Culs Nus Beach.

Event No. 7 of 10 on the 2010 ASP World Tour, the Quiksilver Pro France enjoyed a full day of mind-blowing surfing and incredible carnage as the remaining eight surfers were determined in the south of France.

Mick Fanning (AUS), 29, reigning ASP World Champion and defending Quiksilver Pro France champion, absolutely dominated his Round 4 bout this afternoon, threading an endless stream of barrels as well as executing a series of powerful turns to net a 16.93 out of a possible 20.

“I was so excited out there,” Fanning said. “Wave after wave kept coming and I was just being a tube pig. I was being pretty greedy out there. France is always so unpredictable and it changes constantly. The surfers who adapt quickly out here are usually the ones who do well.”

With his Round 4 win, Fanning advances directly into the Quarterfinals, bypassing Round 5 in the process.

“I think it’s pretty crucial to skip that round,” Fanning said. “Not only are you surfing against the guy you’ve drawn, you’re surfing against the round. No one wants have to spend that extra energy on another heat, especially when it comes down to the business end of the event.”

Fanning will take on Jordy Smith (ZAF), 21, in the Quarterfinals of the Quiksilver Pro France.

Smith opened his day by posting a convincing Round 3 win over Gabe Kling (USA), 30, before stumbling in the three-man, non-elimination Round 4.

“It’s a long day surfing with the new format,” Smith said. “It can be pretty exhausting out there. I was fortunate to find a couple of waves that stayed open out there tonight. The rips were changing the conditions fairly quickly. Stoked to get through though and hopefully I can recharge to make a big push tomorrow if we’re back on.”

The current ASP World No. 2 is one of three major ASP World Title contenders remaining in the Quiskilver Pro France, but the young South African remains cautious when discussing the race for the leader spot.

“I’m pretty relaxed,” Smith said. “I think the pressure is on Kelly (Slater) at the moment. I’m just looking at having fun with every heat. Of course I’m thrilled to be where I’m at this season, but there are still a few events left.”

Kelly Slater (USA), 38, former nine-time ASP World Champion and current ASP World No. 1, scored a sensational come-from-behind victory in Round 4 over Michel Bourez (PYF), 24, and Owen Wright (AUS), 20, this afternoon. Unable to amass a score over a 1 at the halfway mark, Slater dropped into a massive righthand barrel only to be spat out and finish with a critical closeout maneuver.

“I heard Michel getting high 7s and I knew I needed 15 points to catch up,” Slater said. “I only had a 1 halfway through the heat then this big bomb came through the spot I was sitting and it put me back in the heat. I thought that was going to be the spot, but I needed the wind do die. Once it did, it was great. I’m on a 5’9” and I don’t think it’s too small. As long as I can catch the waves, I want to be on the smallest board I can.”

As Bourez swam for an equipment change (after snapping his board in half), Slater slung into another barrel before executing a dramatic forehand reverse for a 7.90 and the win.

“I needed to throw something at the end of the heat,” Slater said. “I couldn’t really hear all the scores out there and I knew I needed something. That second barrel probably wasn’t too deep so I tried to finish with an air and it worked out. You play a different game in a man-on-man heat with priority. You would never surf a completely different bank in man-on-man. It cleaned up over there. That little bit of wind. It’s dead glassy now. It’s perfect.”

Slater battles Michel Bourez (PYF), 24, in his upcoming Quarterfinal bout.

Bourez, who netted the highest heat total of the event (a 17.00 out of a possible 20) in Round 3, came back in Round 5 to best Taylor Knox (USA), 39, in a low-scoring affair.

“To make the Quarterfinals is good for me in France,” Bourez said. “All the people around here are so supportive every time I see them. They tell me that I am supporting France as well. It’s very exciting for me.”

Brett Simpson (AUS), 25, 2010 ASP World Tour rookie and current ASP World No. 28, led the rookie charge in Round 4, posting an impressive win over opponents Daniel Ross (AUS), 27, and Taylor Knox (USA), 39.

“The conditions have changed a lot since this morning,” Simpson said. “We had nice, clean barrels this morning and now there is a lot of water moving and a lot of rips. I went down the beach and got one of my better scores. I’m stoked. It’s a big heat win for me. I just hope I can have a good heat moving forward.”

Advancing through to the Quarterfinals, Simpson is guaranteed an Equal 5th at the Quiksilver Pro France, a career best for the young Californian.

“One of my goals for the year was to make the Quarterfinals and it’s a huge accomplishment for me today,” Simpson said. “I’m pretty tired just from those two heats today so I probably won’t free surf afterwards, but focus on resting up for tomorrow’s Quarterfinals.”

Ross, who in the opening heat of the day eliminated current ASP World No. 3, Taj Burrow (AUS), 32, would go onto rebound in Round 5, defeating red-hot rookie Owen Wright (AUS), 20. Wright would suffer an absolute pounding in their afternoon affair, snapping three boards in under 30 minutes.

“I’m pretty sore,” Wright said. “That was the biggest pounding of my life. The waves were just pumping. It was pretty surreal. Every time I took the drop was straight down on my backhand. You can’t pass those waves up. If I didn’t go them, I wasn’t going to get 9s and it would have been a crime against surfing.”

Kieren Perrow (AUS), 33, capped today’s action with the highest scoring single-wave score of the day, a 9.76 out of a possible 10 for an incredibly deep barrel and two solid turns. The advancement to the Quarterfinals is a major accomplishment for Perrow, who was awarded the injury wildcard for the back half of the 2010 season.

“You can’t really relax out there,” Perrow said. “I was stoked with that 9-something and really wanted to back it up with a 7 or an 8. However, when two guys have a 9 out there, it makes it really difficult. I’m just trying to relax and enjoy it all year. Even the heats I was losing in J-Bay and Tahiti, I was still having fun even though things weren’t going my way. Now that things are going my way, I’m still having a great time. I’m loving the French barrels and hopefully we get similar conditions tomorrow.”

QF 1:Brett Simpson (USA) vs. Daniel Ross (AUS)
QF 2:Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Michel Bourez (PYF)
QF 3:Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. Kieren Perrow (AUS)
QF 4:Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Jordy Smith (ZAF)

Davey Weare: he'll be hanging around

Davey Weare will be retiring from professional surfing. One of South Africa's most loved surfers has decided to quit long travels and competitions.

He has been running the world for a living since 1999. Weare will now be focusing on photography and free surfing.

"I want to get some barrels! I am committed to Oakley for another 2 years, but my focus is shifting from international competition to photo trips and editorial coverage for magazines. I’m also going to continue competing in South Africa for the next two years, and I still want to win events in South Africa. We have a pretty good local series, and there are still plenty of opportunities to surf against international professionals to keep that part of me satisfied".

Davey Weare has conquered several 6-star WQS stages and has spent two seasons on the ASP World Tour elite. Davey is married and has two young children.

Owen Wright: he should've made the film

We’re waiting for the call in France but it ain’t looking promising. There are waves around, but Hossegor’s ability to go from pumping to puss with the changing tide is an issue.

It’s a chance to catch up with Owen Wright and Matt Wilkinson and get the lowdown on Rip Curl’s latest extravaganza – Timeslicing at the Sunway Lagoon.

Where’s that you ask? Remember the wavepool in Malaysia? What’s Timeslicing you ask? Remember the freeze frame cinematography from the Matrix? And the results? Quite goddamn extraordinary. Watch the trailer.

“The guys set up 52 cameras and thousands of dollars of scaffolding and computers,” explains Owen. “We only had a bit of time to nail shots and it was sooo hard. I even cracked it and threw a little bit of a hissy fit, but in the end it turned out to be amazing.”

“Yeah, Owen cracked it,” laughs Wilko, “but I had a little teary as well. The pressure was really on, even more than in a heat because the window to get it done was so small, and you knew how much time and effort had gone into it all.”

“We had about an hour each,” explains Owen. “That’s about ten waves. Take out seven of those waves when you blow it and it’s three times to nail an air in exactly the right spot. It’s definitely one of the toughest things I’ve done, but check out the footage. It was worth it.”

It wasn’t all about selling boardshorts either, as the footage allows the guys to see exactly what they’re doing in the air. “It’s sick watching such hi-tech shots of yourself surfing,” says Owen, “because you can really see what you’re doing, every wave. The ability to pause in the 3D perspective is great. I thought I had a pretty good idea of how I surfed but this definitely showed me where I could make some improvements.”

Super slow-mo Red Cameras, Timeslicing, helicopters? What the hell is next as the surf companies look to one up each other? “I reckon it’ll be a while before this gets topped, says Owen. “I mean, I know I have to say that, but seriously, it’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen.”

The Ripcurl Mirage Boardies site goes live on October 31st with loads more photos and video.