Pumping but tricky conditions made for broken boards and some bruised spirits as the Quiksilver Pro France powered through Round 2 (an elimination round) and the women's Roxy Pro France kicked off. Conditions were difficult to read, but the surfers who managed to find the right waves made the most of them.
Organized sets were toughest to find early in the day but Kelly Slater (USA), who's won multiple events in France, knew where to look. The 11-time World Champion bounced back from a slow start in Round 1 to dominate. He defeated replacement surfer Aritz Aranburu (ESP), posting the round's highest heat total, an impressive 17.37 out of 20.
"There weren't a lot of opportunities, there's so much current," Slater said. "The conditions are flawless but there's a lot of water moving around and it hasn't sorted itself out yet."
Slater is currently No. 6 on the Jeep Leaderboard and more than an event-win in points separated from Mick Fanning (AUS) who currently leads the rankings. He indicated at the Hurley Pro he may bow out of the European leg entirely, but his never-ending competitive fire has seen him through to Round 3, seemingly despite of himself.
"Realistically I don't have much of a shot at the World Title," he said after his Round 2 heat. "These guys would have to mess up pretty bad and that hasn't really been happening."
Men's World Title Watch: World No. 3 Filipe Toledo (BRA) suffered an early elimination at the hands of local wildcard Maxime Huscenot. Toledo held the lead for the majority of the heat but left himself vulnerable with a negligible backup. Huscenot hadn't accumulated a strong scoreline either, but a couple maneuvers on a Hail Mary was enough to force the upset. With Mick Fanning (AUS), Adriano de Souza (BRA) and Owen Wright (AUS) -- Nos. 1, 2 and 4 on the Jeep Leaderboard -- through to Round 3, Toledo will have to hope for a big result in Portugal to regain footing in the Title race.
Next up was the kickoff of the Roxy Pro France, which ran Round 1 and the first three heats (of 6) of Round 2, which saw tough eliminations.
World No. 2 Carissa Moore (HAW), who's battling for a third World Title against Jeep Leader Courtney Conlogue (USA), put on an incredible performance in the big, powerful surf of Culs Nus. She surfed the Hawaiian-style conditions to advance ahead of 6-time World Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) straight into the third round. It was Gilmore's first time back in competition after missing five events due to injury. For Moore, it was another chance to get closer to the Title.
"I'm definitely fired up, I'm excited for these last two events, I know anything can happen and it's really close between me and Courtney," Moore said. "I just want to be in that Title Race. Win or lose I'm excited to be a part of it."
Another standout was Tour rookie Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW). Fresh off a third-place finish in Cascais, Portugal, she scored the event's first perfect 10-point ride for a flawless forehand tube.
"That wave came right to me and I was like, 'OK, I might as well just try.' It was just a beauty of a wave and I'm so stoked I got it," said Weston-Webb.
Local hero Johanne Defay (FRA) also shined bright in the solid evening surf. After a 25-minute break between her Round 1 and Round 2 heats, she went on the attack in her elimination matchup against Silvana Lima (BRA) with a solid 9.67. Next up it was Alessa Quizon (HAW) who stood out. An underdog in the battle versus Bianca Buitendag (ZAF), this time is was Quizon's turn to step into the spotlight.
Women's World Title Watch: Both Moore and Conlogue advanced to Round 3, keeping them neck-and-neck into the next round.
Injury Updates: Laura Enever (AUS) withdrew from the Roxy Pro after dislocating her shoulder during a freesurf. Pauline Ado (FRA) stepped in to replace her. Read the WSL Injury Update for the latest on Alejo Muniz (BRA), who withdrew from the Quik Pro after injuring his knee in Round 1.
Tune in again Saturday, October 10, at 8 a.m. local time here on the WSL website, and on the go with the WSL App.