The volatility of French beachbreaks is a well documented fact; a spitting pyramid peak can all to soon become a 200 metre closeout. Unfortunately, day four of the Quik Pro saw a surplus of the latter.
The action began under a somber sky with the remaining heats of round four. John John instigated proceedings with a running tube which raised expectations, but the dredging low tide bank, coupled with a dead west swell, meant very little was on offer beyond a sandy beating.
Slater stumbled to a win with a ten point total, then moments later, Gabriel Medina unearthed a diamond in the rough with a near perfect frontside tube.
"Ah I smashed it out there," said Kelly, laughing. "Me an Brett were just laughing at the end, it was painful. The waves just aren't very good that's all, and there's not much we can do about it. This real Westerly direction means the waves have no opportunity to peak up."
The start of round five saw little improvement in conditions, with a strengthening southerly wind, and competitors squeezing through non-existent doggy doors. Burrow was eliminated by Fanning in a painful heat in which neither surfer surmounted the five point mark. The result puts an end to Burrow's fledgling title hopes.
"When I knew I was going to have Taj, you know he's been in form for the last couple of events and he's been ripping," said Fanning. "I knew it was going to be a really big heat, but the waves didn't really come to play. I just snuck a couple of head dips and he didn't have much, it was really difficult out there."
As the cross-shore wind added yet more chop to the surface, Miky Picon's hopes of finishing off the contest were rapidly dispelled. However, the increasingly difficult conditions arguably made for a more compelling spectacle. Competitors were left with the tough decision whether to continue hunting barrels, or take to the air.
Felipe Toledo made his strategy clear from the start, defeating title hopeful, Jordy Smith, with a pair of clean boosts. Following suit Julian Wilson trounced Brett Simpson with a selection from his refined aerial repertoire.
With the morning pain au chocolat not yet fully digested, the organisers succumbed to the adverse conditions and ushered in the final rounds of King of the Groms.
Extinguished like a flickering flame in a French thunder storm, the title hopes of Taj and Jordy are no more. Tomorrow will be smaller again, and if the contest site remains at La Graviere, competitors will probably be once again faced with sparse scoring potential. This does not, however, negate the possibility of a dramatic final day.