So far this years Quiksilver pro has seen a pretty wide variety of conditions over the 5 rounds of competition, with big shifting barrels in the opening rounds morphing into some all together more manageable overhead peelers in the later stages. However, despite this spread it is the same names who have shone throughout. Both the main title contenders- Mick Fanning and Adriano De Souza- have looked incredibly strong, with each finishing every heat they’ve surfed with combined totals well into the teens. However if anyone stands a chance of blocking the veterans path to victory it is wunderkins John John Florence and Gabriel Medina, who, after a tricky first few events, finally looks like he might be re-finding the form that saw him make history last year. We’re sure you’ve already seen this incredible air he threw down in RD4, but just as Todd Klein says at the start of this clip, we want to see this a hundred times and we reckon you do too:
No one quite knows what it was plaguing Gabriel in those early events, although plenty have speculated. It seems likely that the pressure heaped upon the shoulders of the introverted Braziliian as a result of suddenly being thrust into the international spot light and becoming one of the biggest celebs in Brazil, may well have played its part. Especially when considering the abundance of both adoration and unrelenting scrutiny that have come along with it. Or perhaps with his first world title under his belt, and the near-certainty of more to come further down the line- he decided to divert a little of his attention away from competition, opting instead to put more focus on spending more time with his friends and family and, according to the grape vine, going on the odd big night out.
Whatever it was, his results in Trestles and Tahiti and performance so far in France certainly seem to suggest it is no longer proving to be a hinderance and it seems to me the stage could well be set for Gabriel to take a pretty good swing at the victory here in Hossegor. The forecast suggests Wednesday and Thursday could see perfect waves peeling off down the inside right hand bank straight out in front of the contest site, which the last two times Gabriel surfed in a vest saw him land heat totals of 18.70 and 19.83. However from here on in there are no easy heats and Gabriel is due to face John John in quarter final number 4, in what is by far his toughest draw so far. Whilst concrete predictions are difficult there’s one thing we can be sure of as we enter the final few days of the waiting period- so get your baguettes and beach towels at the ready (even if your just watching the webcast)- because with that field and that forecast we’re going to in be for a pretty bloody exciting day of surfing down here in South West France.
Words and Photos by Luke Gartside// @lugarts