HOSSEGOR, France (Sunday, Sept. 21, 2008) - Twenty-year-old Jeremy Flores (FRA) and 21-year-old Adriano de Souza (BRA) have a few things in common. They both qualified for the ASP World Tour as WQS No. 1 surfers, they are both rated in the ASP World Tour Top 10 and they both won their Round 2 Quiksilver Pro France heats held at Les Estagnots today.
De Souza currently sits in 6th on the ASP ratings, Flores 10th - they both are in a position to improve their ratings at the Quiksilver Pro France now that three of the Top 10 surfers have bowed out of the competition with 33rd place results.
Reigning ASP World Champion and World No. 5 Mick Fanning (AUS) and World No. 4 Joel Parkinson (AUS) lost their Round 2 heats yesterday. Former three-time ASP World Champion and World No. 9 Andy Irons (HAW) failed to show up for his Round 2 heat against Jihad Kohdr (BRA) today.
De Souza used that knowledge as extra incentive to win a seesaw battle against Aritz Aranburu (EUK) this morning. Aranburu surfed well but will have to wait until the next event in his native Basque country to please the European fans who were out in force today.
"I saw Fanning and Parko lose last night and thought, 'this is a big opportunity for me to get into the Top 5,'" de Souza said. "That was a tough heat. Aritz had the crowd on his side so it was pretty hard to win but I'm really happy, the waves were really pumping. This event is very important for me so I'm just going to try my best."
Flores surfed solidly to eliminate Australia's Dan Ross today. Flores has been outspoken about the pressure he feels to perform at home in France - but he may have stumbled on a solution for that stress this morning.
"I woke up late and got here five minutes before my heat but I felt good because I did not have time to feel any pressure," Flores said. "It is great to have all this support from so many people on the beach. I haven't got through many heats in the past in France so when it happens people are definitely pushing and it is a pleasure. All this support makes me want to win even more and that is why when I lose I am even more frustrated."
Portugal's Tiago Pires won a tough heat over Timmy Reyes (USA) to advance to the next round of the Quiksilver Pro. With the exception of a 3rd in Indonesia, Pires has been unluckily eliminated from several close heats this year and has a scoreline riddled with 33rds and 17ths to show for it. He went all out on a wave at the end of his Round 2 duel and earned a 9.00 to advance.
"I've had some really tight heats so it feels good to make it through this one," Pires said. "That wave I earned a 9.00 for was full anger," Pires said. "I hadn't caught any good waves and I didn't want to lose that heat so I just put all my energy into those turns and it paid off.
The fourth and final European to surf in the Quiksilver Pro today, Miky Picon (FRA), was eliminated by Brazil's Heitor Alves. Alves earned 15.17 points to Picon's 4.77.
"I had a tough heat yesterday where I could not get any waves so I went out really motivated to surf well," Alves said. "I was more focused today I found the rhythm and managed to get an 8.00 then a 6.00 so I am pretty happy to win like that."
Alves is currently rated 29th on the ASP World Tour and is looking to put in a performance similar to his semifinal showing in California last week. The top 27 guys on the ASP World Tour requalify for the tour the following year - the top 15 guys on the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) and three wildcards replace the bottom 18 surfers at year's end.
"I am definitely chasing a big result here in France and I will be more and more focused and prepared because any heat will be important for me. I hope I can requalify without having to surf the last WQS events."
Californian's Bobby Martinez and Chris Ward won their Round 2 heats, as did Hawaii's Fred Patacchia and Florida's Damien Hobgood. Australians advancing today included Kai Otton, Mick Campbell and Luke Stedman.
The next call on competition status will be made tomorrow at 8:30am.
Today's Round 2 Quiksilver Pro France Results:
Heat 5: Bobby Martinez (USA) 15.50 def. Ricky Basnett (ZAF) 11.90
Heat 6: Jihad Khodr (BRA) 9.93 def. Andy Irons (HAW) n/s
Heat 7: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 15.5 def. Aritz Aranburu (EUK) 11.83
Heat 8: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 15.17 def. Daniel Ross (AUS) 7.10
Heat 9: Kai Otton (AUS) 12.26 def. Leonardo Neves (BRA) 11.34
Heat 10: Mick Campbell (AUS) 12.66 def. Bruce Irons (HAW) 2.10
Heat 11: Luke Stedman (AUS) 15.43 def. Ben Bourgeois (USA) 14.84
Heat 12: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 13.00 def. Luke Munro (AUS) 10.23
Heat 13: Chris Ward (USA) 12.43 def. Royden Bryson (ZAF) 10.93
Heat 14: Tiago Pires (PRT) 15.50 def. Tim Reyes (USA) 14.84
Heat 15: Damien Hobgood (USA) 13.67 def. Jay Thompson (AUS) 13.17
Heat 16: Heitor Alves (BRA) 15.17 def. Mikael Picon (FRA) 4.77