Quiksilver Pro, France, Day 3: “Sexless crowd watches miserable closeouts, Medina survives, Toledo like chimney sweep in Dickens novel, Yago best on day!”

The French beachbreak, like Michel Foucalt, is a much overrated old fruit. Bad tempered and indecipherable.

To be honest, I ain’t the toothiest Francophile in the tub ’round here. French boobs, yes. Houllebecq, Flaubert, Stendahl, Gilet-jaunes, yes, yes, yes. Camus, De Beauvoir, Sartre: love that shit.

The French beachbreak, like Michel Foucalt, seems very much an overrated old fruit to me. Bad tempered and indecipherable. When Jessi Miley Dyer stood in front of the camera at 8.30 CEST this morning and said this was the best day in the waiting period I thought, sick. After a million french close-outs had pounded the beach at La Grav, it was more, what a punish.

Still there was drama, plenty of what poet Philip Larkin in his ode to sexual awakening, Annus Mirabilis, termed “wrangling for the ring.” Overlapping forty-five-minute heats gave plenty of opportunity, and that was needed, but it was still, according to Connor Coffin, “a lucky dip at best.”

When the world’s best beachbreak scavenger, Gabe Medina, scours every inch of a lineup and can only rip a few four-point chunks off the carcass in forty minutes you know it’s slim pickings.

I couldn’t advise a rewatching that heat but as live action, with the Title in play, it was compelling sport.

Miserable closeouts, almost a total lack of surfable corners. Up and down the line-up, firing at will, hucking left, then a huge inverted backside spin which he tried to sell to judges as make and got denied (unfairly, I thought). It was close to the perfect sudden death scenario – French wildcard Mignot with nothing to lose and a random lineup that could suddenly offer a teepee to the lucky.

Charlie prowled the beach getting more and more stressed, more visibly agitated. The salt and pepper beard seemed greyer by the minute in the wan French sunshine. The dislike, repulsion even, for this man confounds me. The smothering step-father adds a kind of Grimms’ Fairy Tale patina over the World Champions campaign and contrasts with the worldly superstar dimensions: the hang-outs with Neymar, the conference calls with Bolsanaro.

Great theatre.

Fifteen minutes to go and Medina trails the wildcard. Ten, five; still behind. The unthinkable starts to seem possible. Likely even. Four minutes and forty seconds to go and Gabe spikes a small left toob, re-emerges and smashes the oncoming lip for punctuation. Charlie loses his shit in the shorebreak, a one man World Cup celebration and Gabe, of course, gets the score.

For Medina afficionados, I count myself amongst them, his best heat of the year as far as finding a way to win goes.

Last minute reversals, after forty-five minutes of one surfer leading the other, were the theme of the day. Kelly Slater did not look as sparky and rejuvenated as his round nd one performance, but neither did his opponent and housemate, Leo Fioravanti. Both scrapped around in the straighthanders, Kelly cleaving more closely to the Medina template of catching anything and everything in the hopes something may materialise.

Which it eventually did when he slouched in a hollow cavern with arms clasped behind his back. With the best wave of the heat on ice, Kelly looked set to put the head-to-head match-up back to 2-1. Dogs roamed the beach and a curiously sex-less crowd were silent until with a minute to go Leo “spelunkered” his way through an Hawaiian looking right, stepping off onto the sand and demanding a reaction from the crowd.

That was the heat winner. The camera followed Kelly, cruelly, into the empty locker room.

It did not follow Willian Cardoso who also led all heat and lost to a buzzer beater by Wade Carmichael. He did not appreciate the loss. Did he think the final score awarded to Wade was over-cooked? The double bird he threw at the judges and the board punch-out would suggest, yes.

But we will never know because the camera turned away. Lingering near the cut-off at 19, that result could be the most critical of the Panda’s career on the CT, especially with Yago Dora still alive in the draw.

You could make a case that Dora’s performance was the best of the day and find no argument here. It was loose. Very Psychic Migrations. Big greased alley-oop on a left. Landed and literally stepped off on the sand. Another styled-out reverse on a right where he landed in the sand. It was one of those cartoons where the character gets thrown into the sand and has to be dug out.

He motioned to the judges, “Look, what can I do?”

They were unmoved. Colapinto was not a walkover. He would have won any other heat.

Poor old Pip Toledo. The pre-heat vision of Pip with the black beanie sitting, whatever the opposite of jaunty is, made it look like the heat was over before it began. He looked like a chimney sweep in a Dickens novel, a junkie from Trainspotting, a derelict Justin Beiber.

Why is he competing if the back is buggered? It seems cruel and unusual self-punishment. He lost to Lacomare.

Kolohe surfs on. The round of sixteen match-up with Dora potentially the best of the round. My dark horse pick, Soli Bailey, out again in the round of thirty-two. Seventeenth place, a number he has not been able to best all season.

It’s a cruel business, but he’s doing OK. He wont be driving Ubers to Splendour in the Grass next year. And he wont be the only one rueing French closeouts.

Still, there are always the pleasures of the flesh to compensate. Larkins “quite unloseable game” beckons the single man.

Quiksilver Pro France Round of 16 (Round 4) Match-Ups:
HEAT 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Jeremy Flores (FRA)
HEAT 2: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) vs. Ryan Callinan (AUS)
HEAT 3: Marc Lacomare (FRA) vs. Wade Carmichael (AUS)
HEAT 4: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Jack Freestone (AUS)
HEAT 5: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Adrian Buchan (AUS)
HEAT 6: Seth Moniz (HAW) vs. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA)
HEAT 7: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Yago Dora (BRA)
HEAT 8: Michel Bourez (FRA) vs. Italo Ferreira (BRA)

Roxy Pro France Quarterfinal Match-Ups:
HEAT 1: Lakey Peterson (USA) vs. Malia Manuel (HAW)
HEAT 2: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA)
HEAT 3: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) vs. Johanne Defay (FRA)
HEAT 4: Caroline Marks (USA) vs. Courtney Conlogue (USA)

Quiksilver Pro France Round of 32 (Round 3) Results:
HEAT 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13.83 DEF. Frederico Morais (PRT) 12.40
HEAT 2: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 8.37 DEF. Caio Ibelli (BRA) 6.07
HEAT 3: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 11.16 DEF. Owen Wright (AUS) 5.30
HEAT 4: Ryan Callinan (AUS) 14.33 DEF. Michael Rodrigues (BRA) 13.00
HEAT 5: Marc Lacomare (FRA) 12.83 DEF. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 12.17
HEAT 6: Wade Carmichael (AUS) 11.93 DEF. Willian Cardoso (BRA) 9.70
HEAT 7: Julian Wilson (AUS) 11.33 DEF. Jorgann Couzinet (FRA) 6.17
HEAT 8: Jack Freestone (AUS) 8.56 DEF. Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 8.33
HEAT 9: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 9.76 DEF. Marco Mignot (FRA) 8.84
HEAT 10: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 8.93 DEF. Conner Coffin (USA) 8.60
HEAT 11: Seth Moniz (HAW) 12.60 DEF. Peterson Crisanto (BRA) 10.77
HEAT 12: Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 12.43 DEF. Kelly Slater (USA) 11.00
HEAT 13: Kolohe Andino (USA) 10.34 DEF. Soli Bailey (AUS) 9.27
HEAT 14: Yago Dora (BRA) 14.50 DEF. Griffin Colapinto (USA) 13.23
HEAT 15: Michel Bourez (FRA) 11.67 DEF. Joan Duru (FRA) 7.56
HEAT 16: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 13.83 DEF. Jesse Mendes (BRA) 11.77

Rebuttal: “Dora sounds like a selfish bastard but, then again, he lived the surfer’s life!”

A character study.

(Editor’s note: Besides quit-lit, and the saga of “man-eating” Great Whites, bashing/defending Miki Dora’s legacy has become a favorite sub-sub-genre of surf writing. Dora, to his credit, is a compelling study and while I thought I had my mind made up about how history should remember the man, the following piece changed it. Or at least made me very conflicted.)

Michelangelo Caravaggio, without hyperbole, the most impressive painter of his time, or all time; he painted his monumental canvases alla prima, no preliminary sketches or underpainting. Conceiving of an idea, he searched his mind for the faces and figures he knew the best: the bums, the larcenous, the gamblers crooks and slouches he hung with, and he brought them to life as the saints and Gods and heroines who knew them to also be.

When he painted The Death of The Virgin, the depiction of the most holy woman “of the people”, he used the best model for Mary that he could, a prostitute, whom he knew. She had drowned, and he painted her as such.

The monumental canvas, commissioned and contracted for the Church would of course be rejected by the Cardinal in charge. It was so full of honest emotion, of love and sorrow and rage at this woman’s premature death. It was, and is, the painting that would certainly speak to the world.

An outrageous affront, cried the Cardinal! Crude beyond belief! and unacceptable. Why? Because she had bare feet! (the official reason), and of course the painting would not be paid for, instead it was hidden away for years. However the open secret of the time was that everyone, including the self-righteous Cardinal knew that this woman was indeed a prostitute and therefore an improper stand-in for The Virgin.

Caravaggio constantly flaunted his skill and ideas against a church that at times supported him, or even apologized for him, and then at times punished his very existence. The history of his work shows us that the only constant was his dedication to his art.

Caravaggio was at best a rude and arrogant loudmouth and a petty criminal, but at worst a rage-a-holic, guilty of murder. He rejected his own brother who tried to help him, and he burned every bridge he had, and used up every chance he was offered. He painted himself as the villain Goliath, head hewn off. More than once! And he did so because he knew he personified that monster, but also because he knew he was the best artist to do it.

What an ego!

He doesn’t have a tombstone that I know of. He died alone on swampy beach, sick and desperate.

Dora once claimed that he declined to share his thoughts on how surfing made him feel, because “those thoughts were his own and he didn’t wish to share them.”

One certainly wouldn’t want to do things the way Dora did. And I for one, would certainly never want to emulate the tragic self destruction of Caravaggio either, but it seems as if each character lived their life for themselves and not for anyone else.

Progressive: Elderly French women openly mock Matt Warshaw, JP Currie and other “Quit-Lit-ers!”

Transformed lives.

Quit-Lit has been my favorite recent development at BeachGrit. Who knew that hidden in the seams of surf journalism’s simple tunic was a whole sub-genre filled with passion, insight, truth and black depression? Longtom, Matt Warshaw, JP Currie and a host of fantastic comments have all contributed to this richest vein of literature but while we wrestle with when to stop surfing, a group of super adult-learners are opening mocking our weakness and let us turn to France’s Riviera Radio for more:

Surfing for the elderly – Several women at a retirement home in Saint Malo northwestern France have taken part in “surf therapy” sessions. The method according to the home’s management is transforming the lives of many elderly people who say they no longer “feel their aches and pains as they are focusing on something else” and it’s also an activity which, for many has “brought them closer to their grandchildren as they now have something in common”. While participants ride real waves, they are not required to stand on the board but lie on it.

Do you feel bad? Like a little piggy at the trough turning up your snout and morsels that others would find incredibly delicious?

Well you should.

Especially you, Matt Warshaw.

Also, maybe the secret, at the end, is embracing the boogie.

Have you ever embraced the boogie?

And, tell me, you still believe Frederic can beat Jordy Smith? Oh you silly English woman.

Comment live, Quiksilver Pro, Hossegor, Day Three!

Come and thrill to real blood spilt on the sand as round three eats half the field…

Enough fucking around, as they say. After two days of mostly pointless toing-and-froing, the Quiksilver Pro now gets down to the business of cutting off heads.

Destruction, like creation, is one of Nature’s mandates. The Marquis de Sade said that. A correct view, I believe.

Now, below, are the twelve heats of round three.

I choose Jordy, Jeremy, Owen, Ryan, Filipe, Julian, Jack, Gabriel, Conner, Seth, Kelly, Kolohe, Griff and Joan and that beautiful feral lion, Italo Ferreira, will toy with and eventually destroy Jesse Mendes.

I have placed fifty dollars on this outcome and expect an eighty-four thousand dollar windfall.

The first half of a relatively ambitious but, by no means unrealistic, wager.

Watch here, and comment live, you know where.

Quiksilver Pro France Round of 32 (Round 3) Match-Ups:
HEAT 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Frederico Morais (PRT)
HEAT 2: Jeremy Flores (FRA) vs. Caio Ibelli (BRA)
HEAT 3: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Ezekiel Lau (HAW)
HEAT 4: Ryan Callinan (AUS) vs. Michael Rodrigues (BRA)
HEAT 5: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Marc Lacomare (FRA)
HEAT 6: Wade Carmichael (AUS) vs. Willian Cardoso (BRA)
HEAT 7: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Jorgann Couzinet (FRA)
HEAT 8: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) vs. Jack Freestone (AUS)
HEAT 9: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Marco Mignot (FRA)
HEAT 10: Conner Coffin (USA) vs. Adrian Buchan (AUS)
HEAT 11: Seth Moniz (HAW) vs. Peterson Crisanto (BRA)
HEAT 12: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA)
HEAT 13: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Soli Bailey (AUS)
HEAT 14: Griffin Colapinto (USA) vs. Yago Dora (BRA)
HEAT 15: Michel Bourez (FRA) vs. Joan Duru (FRA)
HEAT 16: Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. Jesse Mendes (BRA)

Question: At what age do you stop improving as a surfer?

Or can you shine forever?

Five years ago, oowee don’t time move fast, Kelly Slater, then forty-two, rode out of a 720 while freesurfing in Portugal.

“I kinda blacked out with surprise that it stuck as well as it did,” Kelly told BeachGrit.

Yeah, it was a milestone. Not just for surfing but for a man who, according to society’s laws on ageing, should’ve been long retired from the pro game.

And so, as father time hits your ol pal DR in the face, I’m wondering, and I’m searching for answers here ’cause I got none: at what point do you stop progressing as a surfer?

Is it biological, when the bones creak, the hips seize and the mind grows feeble?

Or is it attitudinal, when you’re tired and you’re done growing new neurological pathways. Just another old dog who ain’t gonna learn new tricks, no matter how fabulous the imagined treat.

I was twelve when I found a way of getting to the beach from my inland suburb. So I don’t have the beautiful instincts of someone who was getting tubed with their daddy when they were three.

A kook forever, but I try. I think. I watch.

At forty, I started nailing weird little backside reverses, on the face things, sure, but it was something new.

Same with straight front airs and frontside reverses without the air.

Awkward, technically flawed, but new.

I do have a feeling time is running out, howevs.

And, I wonder and I ask, when is it going to end?

When did it end for you? Did it end?

Slater, meanwhile, who is now a few summer’s short of fifty, was the best surfer in the water at the Quiksilver Pro three days ago. In three-foot waves.

Can you get better, forever? Or is that just Kelly?