The Quiksilver Pro France, Stop No. 7 on the 2009 ASP World Tour, will kick off in three days on the South West Coast of France, settling down between the world famous beach breaks of Hossegor and Seignosse, and the famous Basque reef break of Lafitenia. A fully mobile event with 42 km at its disposal, the Quiksilver Pro France (the only French stop of the ASP World Tour) will give the world's best surfers two weeks of tube-riding, high-performance waves and big surf possibilities.
While 2009 the ASP World Title race remains wide open and very close amongst the top contenders (including reigning and nine-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA), 37), the Quiksilver Pro France will also stage the highly-anticipated battle between ratings' front-runners and struggling ASP Top 45 re-qualifiers.
Adrian Buchan (New South Wales, AUS), 27, defending Quiksilver Pro France champion, will be back on the battlefield where he clinched his first and only ASP World Tour victory in 2008 after defeating Slater in an exciting Final – postponing the Floridian's 9th ASP World Title claim. Buchan, a.k.a. "Ace", whose season has been interrupted by a serious knee injury that forced him out of two events already, will be eager to get back to his best level when he competes in France next week.
"This year has been different for me," Buchan said. "I started out really well on the Gold Coast [at the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast, first event of the year] and then struggled at the next two events before injuring myself in Bali on a surf trip. Being sidelined gives you incredible clarity and the break has been great for me. I got to do some different things and now I'm fresh and excited. My knee is getting better every week and is close to 100% so I'm feeling pretty confident for France."
Buchan, who is sitting on a 5th and three 17th places in 2009 thus far, is considered a threat at all locations on tour and could get back to the front stage next week in France, the Quiksilver Pro France being one of the man's favorite places on tour for its waves and lifestyle.
"Even before I won the event there, France felt like a special place to me," Buchan said. "I love the laid back vibe and the scenery and French culture and it's such a great time of year too. Crisp mornings and beautiful days – it's a tricky place to surf where you have to be very aware of the changing conditions and I like that. Hopefully we have some swell!"
Buchan will take on former ASP World Champion (2001) C.J. Hobgood (USA), 30, and 2009 ASP Dream Tour rookie Marlon Lipke (DEU), 25, when competition commences.
While all eyes will be on surfing's greatest celebrities for two consecutive weeks in France, the biggest French contingent ever to compete on the ASP World Tour will be in the spotlights of national media. Local residents Michael Picon (Capbreton, FRA), 30, and Tim Boal (Anglet, FRA), 26, along with French Polynesian Michel Bourez (Tahiti PYF), 23, and world famous Jeremy Flores (New Caledonia/Capbreton, FRA), 21, are ready to shine in front of thousands of fans.
Picon, the most experienced French surfer on tour and already on his third year among the elite ASP Top 45, will be looking to clinch valuable ratings' points towards his 2010 ASP World Tour re-qualification campaign after a tough first part of the season. Picon, presently ranked outside the re-qualifying Top 27 prior to the Quiksilver Pro France, is considered a talented tube-rider, having placed ninth at Tahiti, Bali and Mundaka in 2008, and will be a serious contender if the swell reaches the six-to-eight-foot range during the Quiksilver Pro France.
"I'm feeling pretty good and I think my boards are really working well," Picon said. "I lost early in California so got back home with some time to practice and get used to the event location. It was good as well for the jet lag, and I am in rhythm right now. The location chosen for the event looks very fun and I think it is going to be a good contest." Picon will face Dane Reynolds (USA), 24, and Chris Davidson (AUS), 33, in Round 1 of the Quiksilver Pro France.
With the ASP World Title race raging as the tour hits the European leg, beginning September 23 with the Quiksilver Pro France, will be the theater of intense battles. ASP World No. 1 and former event winner (2006), Joel Parkinson (AUS), 28, will have a chance to seal his inaugural ASP World Title in France while other top contenders will look to put a stop to his juggernaut season.
The Quiksilver Pro France will host the world's best surfers from September 23 to October 4, 2009.
The event be webcast LIVE in French, English and Portuguese
QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE ROUND 1 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: Taylor Knox (USA), Ben Dunn (AUS), Jihad Khodr (BRA)
Heat 2: Bobby Martinez (USA), Josh Kerr (AUS), David Weare (ZAF)
Heat 3: Damien Hobgood (USA), Tim Reyes (USA), Nic Muscroft (AUS)
Heat 4: Taj Burrow (AUS), Heitor Alves (BRA), Drew Courtney (AUS)
Heat 5: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Michel Bourez (PYF), Luke Stedman (AUS)
Heat 6: Bede Durbidge (AUS), Dean Morrison (AUS), Phillip MacDonald (AUS)
Heat 7: C.J. Hobgood (USA), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Marlon Lipke (DEU)
Heat 8: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Kai Otton (AUS), TBA
Heat 9: Kelly Slater (USA), Mick Campbell (AUS), TBA
Heat 10: Mick Fanning (AUS), Kekoa Bacalso (HAW), TBA
Heat 11: Tom Whitaker (AUS), Chris Ward (USA), Aritz Aranburu (EUK)
Heat 12: Kieren Perrow (AUS), Roy Powers (HAW), Nathaniel Curran (USA)
Heat 13: Dane Reynolds (USA), Chris Davidson (AUS), Michael Picon (FRA)
Heat 14: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW), Jay Thompson (AUS), Tiago Pires (PRT)
Heat 15: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Tim Boal (FRA), Greg Emslie (ZAF)
Heat 16: Jeremy Flores (FRA), Dayyan Neve (AUS), Dustin Barca (HAW)