The world’s best surfers have arrived in the Southwest of France for the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour’s (CT) European leg with the Quiksilver Pro and Roxy Pro France.
The legendary beachbreaks of the Landes region will play host to the 18th edition of the sole French CT stop, hosted at the iconic surf towns of Seignosse, Hossegor and Capbreton. The holding period for the event opens on Thursday, October 3 and runs through Sunday, October 13, 2019.
With just three events remaining in the 2019 WSL CT calendar, the World Title picture has begun to crystalize. The race is far from over, but the contenders have separated from the pack of the world’s best surfers and the pressure is on those with real title hopes to make the most of the few opportunities they have left. For the first time ever, Olympic dreams are on the line as the qualification for Tokyo 2020 plays out over the tour’s final chapters.
Two-time reigning WSL Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA) and 3X World Champion Carissa Moore (HAW) lead the men’s and women’s rankings heading into Europe with Filipe Toledo (BRA), Lakey Peterson (USA), Jordy Smith (ZAF) and Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) all in pursuit of the Jeep frontrunner position as well as their own respective inaugural world titles.
Coming in hot after a win at the Freshwater Pro, Gabriel Medina lands in France with a chance to break away from his opponents in the 2019 WSL Title race.
The Brazilian star has an incredible track record in the Southwest beach breaks, with three wins and two other Final appearances over the years.
His dynamic style of surfing, and big hollow barrels abilities are a perfect fit for the diversity of conditions found in France and another win here would be a giant leap in his bid for a third world crown.
“France has always been good to me and I hope it will be the same this year,” said Medina. “Each contest is a new one for me so I start from the beginning every time. Everyone is so hungry for the win so I’m just keeping my focus on me. The whole world stops to watch the Olympics and root for their country and hopefully this time I’ll be there and people will be rooting for me!”
But Medina’s job in France won’t be easy as his direct competition Toledo and Smith are also carrying momentum from a big result in Lemoore and will be out to prove their worth in an event where they haven’t been the most consistent standouts.
Women’s Title Race Heats Up
The 2019 WSL women’s title race is as exciting as ever and the current frontrunners have all had great success in France in the past, making this stop particularly important once again. Three-time WSL Champion Moore has the upper hand but close behind her, Peterson, Fitzgibbons, and Gilmore are all chasing a big finish.
7X World Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) has won twice in France but it has been a long seven years since her last victory. Consistent as ever this season with Quarterfinal finishes at worst in the first seven events of 2019,
Gilmore has also been uncharacteristically absent of the Finals more often than not, with just one CT event win in Bali so far this year. The rippable beach breaks and hollow barrels of the region could be a turning point in the Australian’s bid for a record-breaking eight title.
“This event marks the beginning of the end for us,” said Gilmore. “Conditions in Europe are always the most challenging because you don’t know what you’re going to get so you have to be able to adapt. If I can qualify for the Olympic Games it would really ease my nerves.
Being in the top two surfers from your country is a really tough battle so it’s going to be exciting to watch that go down. I’d love to make the team and represent Australia.”
Fresh off a runner-up finish in California, French surfer Johanne Defay (FRA) can dream big as well as she chases her own spot for the 2020 Olympics. The powerful regular foot surfer from Reunion Island sits within the provisional cut for Tokyo and has a chance to distance herself from her competition with a result in France.
“Right now I’m feeling pretty good about my chances,” said Defay. “I know there’s a lot of work to be done still and I’d like to have a good result here in France too. I set my goals for each event to try and reach the Quarters at least and every next heat is a bonus, but ultimately we’re always here to win events.”
Quiksilver Pro France Seeding Round (Round 1) Matchups:
Heat 1: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN), Griffin Colapinto (USA), Soli Bailey (AUS)
Heat 2: Italo Ferreira (BRA), Caio Ibelli (BRA), Frederico Morais (PRT)
Heat 3: Kolohe Andino (USA), Yago Dora (BRA), Leonardo Fioravanti (ITL)
Heat 4: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Sebastian Zietz (HAW), Jorgann Couzinet (FRA)
Heat 5: Filipe Toledo (BRA), Joan Duru (FRA), Marc Lacomare (FRA)
Heat 6: Gabriel Medina (BRA), Michael Rodrigues (BRA), Marco Mignot (FRA)
Heat 7: Owen Wright (AUS), Willian Cardoso (BRA), Ricardo Christie (NZL)
Heat 8: Julian Wilson (AUS), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Jadson Andre (BRA)
Heat 9: Kelly Slater (USA), Conner Coffin (USA), Jesse Mendes (BRA)
Heat 10: Seth Moniz (HAW), Wade Carmichael (AUS), Ezekiel Lau (HAW)
Heat 11: Ryan Callinan (AUS), Deivid Silva (BRA), Peterson Crisanto (BRA)
Heat 12: Michel Bourez (FRA), Jeremy Flores (FRA), Jack Freestone (AUS)
Roxy Pro France Seeding Round (Round 1) Matchups:
Heat 1: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Brisa Hennessy (CRI), Paige Hareb (NZL)
Heat 2: Lakey Peterson (USA), Bronte Macaulay (AUS), Macy Callaghan (AUS)
Heat 3: Carissa Moore (HAW), Nikki Van Dijk (AUS), Vahine Fierro (PYF)
Heat 4: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Johanne Defay (FRA), Keely Andrew (AUS)
Heat 5: Caroline Marks (USA), Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA), Coco Ho (HAW)
Heat 6: Courtney Conlogue (USA), Malia Manuel (HAW), Silvana Lima (BRA)