SEIGNOSSE, France (Saturday, September 20, 2008) - The Quiksilver Pro France, Stop No. 8 of 11 on this year's ASP World Tour, witnessed its first pulses of action today with Round 1 and first four heats of Round 2 being completed at the back-up venue of Les Estagnots in good three foot (one meter) waves.
Joan Duru (Hossegor, FRA), 19, a wildcard in the Quiksliver Pro France currently rated No. 30 on the ASP World Qualifying Series, stole the show in front of his home crowd defeating current ratings' leader and 8X ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (Cocoa Beach, USA) in Heat 8 to advance directly to Round 3 and avoid Round 2, the sudden-death round.
Duru, who was surfing his first heat ever in an ASP World Tour event, created the upset of the day putting pressure on Slater who remains in reach of an unprecedent 9th world title if he wins in France.
"It was very tricky and very few waves were good enough to get scores during that heat," Duru said. "I was lucky to get a couple. That last wave got me from last to first so I am stoked to end up winning over Kelly (Slater)."
Duru, who was surfing against Slater for the first time of his career, was relaxed in front of a cheering crowd.
"It is great to be able to surf against Kelly (Slater), I have been looking up to him since I was a kid so it was really special," Duru said. "I just wanted to have fun, all my friends and family were on the beach. I hope I can make a few rounds in the event."
After several solid performances on the WQS this year including a runner-up finish in the last event in the Basque Country at Zarautz, Duru keeps rising as France's next best hope to qualify for the ASP World Tour and will meet again with Slater in Round 3.
From the seven European representatives who surfed today, Duru was not the only one to secure a Round 3 berth as other wildcard Michel Bourez (Tahiti, PYF) created the second upset of the day eliminating ASP World Tour No. 4 Joel Parkinson (Gold Coast, AUS).
Bourez, current ASP WQS No. 14, defeated Parkinson in tricky incoming tide conditions winning with a good 14.00 point heat score (out of a possible 20) and advance through to Round 3.
"I had nothing to lose and really wanted to win that heat," Bourez said. "I was confident and I surfed my waves as hard as I could and it worked out well. The conditions were not easy and I just went for big scores."
Bourez, who has had two excellent results in a row in the last WQS events in Spain including a runner-up finish in Spain at Pantin, will be a serious threat to any ASP Top 45 member.
ASP Top 45 Europeans Jeremy Flores (FRA), Miky Picon (FRA), Aritz Aranburu (EUK), Tiago Pires (PRT) were all relegated to Round 2, third and last European wildcard holder Tim Boal (FRA) losing to Slater in the first heat of Round 2.
Tim Boal (Anglet, FRA), 25, who was awarded a wildcard for the Quiksilver Pro France after winning the Kommunity trials last thursday, was not able to counter Slater's 17.67 point heat total (out of a possible 20), ending his first ASP World Tour event with a 33rd place.
"I am happy to have surfed in the event because I will not have the opportunity to enter an ASP World Tour event again this year," Boal said. "It is great to have the opportunity to surf against Kelly (Slater) because you always learn a lot. I was not under pressure and I had a good time during that heat."
Boal, who posted a good 15.00 point heat tally (out of possible 20), has already secured his spot for next year's ASP World Tour and was happy with his performance.
"I am happy I managed to get those scores," Boal said. "It is good to know I can get some scores at this level of competition. I watched Kelly the whole heat and I let that wave go thinking it was not worth it but he got a 9.00. I have no regrets."
Flores, 20, currently ASP World Tour No. 10 and best French and European surfer on tour, was not able to avoid Round 2 placing second to Ben Dunn (AUS) in the first heat of the event earlier in the day. Flores, who made the semifinals in the last event in California at Trestles, is much expected by the French crowd and will meet ASP World Tour rookie Daniel Ross (AUS) in Heat 8 of Round 2 tomorrow.
QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE Round 2 Europeans' Upcoming Heats
Heat 7: Adriano De Souza (BRA) Vs Aritz Aranburu (EUK)
Heat 8: Jeremy Flores (FRA) Vs Daniel Ross (AUS)
Heat 14: Timmy Reyes (USA) Vs Tiago Pires (PRT)
Heat 16: Mikael Picon (FRA) Vs Heitor Alves (BRA)