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.
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