SEIGNOSSSE, France -- The sun was barely breaching the horizon and there was a significant violet haze obscuring Le Penon beach in Seignosse, France. Everyone was tired. Jet-lagged. The one thing that wasn't fuzzy was the sound: perfect A-frames cracking on the pebbled sea floor. Carissa Moore was already in the water, ditching her fins with laughable ease. The call: "Go."
This was a million times better than Biarritz, the site of the original Roxy Pro back in July (it was forced to reschedule due to lack of surf). Actually, it was better than we expected -- even for Hossegor, one of the world's premium beachbreaks.
The first day of the deuxième Roxy Pro France proved to be all about the sunrises and sunsets. Not only did the extreme edges of the day coincide with the most exciting surfing, but the new (improved) venue gave the handful of world title contenders space to perform at their best.
There were no major upsets, really. In fact, the top seeds Round 1, with Moore's two-wave total almost two full points higher than anyone else's.
"I had a lot of fun this morning," Moore said later. "I was just able to catch a couple of waves and keep in a good rhythm, so that was really nice."
Round 2 was where things got a little dicey. Conditions become extra relevant when world titles and re-qualifications are on the line, and the conditions during the second round left a lot to be desired as the morning's perfection gave way to rips and other snags associated with extreme tides. The third heat was put on hold for three hours, and when it resumed, the waves still weren't exactly ideal, but they were on the mend. By the last heat of the round, Malia Manuel was scoring nines on waves with a lot more substance. It wasn't just the quality of the waves, though; Manuel looked more confident than she has in a while as she executed snap after flawless snap with her characteristic grace. She took the lead in the final seconds and ended up with the highest heat score of the day: 18.60.
A hard-fought battle between Stephanie Gilmore, Sofia Mulanovich and Sally Fitzgibbons (which Fitzgibbons ultimately won) jumpstarted the third round. Moore and Manuel continued flaring, along with Tyler Wright and local Pauline Ado, but the best heat of the day was, by far, the last one. As the sun set behind them, Courtney Conlogue, Lakey Peterson and Sage Erickson took turns annihilating a steady supply of clean 3-footers. Peterson attempted some rodeo-flip variant and then landed a 360 reverse, but even that wasn't enough to top Conlogue's technically beautiful surfing. All three surfers finished within a point of each other and had the stragglers on the beach enthralled.
Earlier in the day, defending world champion Gilmore said she has a feeling that Moore will win the title this year, and judging by the Hawaiian's performance on Tuesday, she's on the right track.
"I'm stoked that we get to surf Hossegor and have some great conditions," a very relaxed Moore said after her third-round win. "My biggest plan is to have fun and just stay calm and enjoy what I'm doing."
"It's cool [to be back in France]," said Gilmore. "It's like we get a second chance. And the waves are a lot better already. I mean, any excuse to come back to France. I enjoy it so much, and for Roxy to give us this opportunity to come back and put on a show is so important. The girls are really thankful for that."
UPCOMING ROXY PRO FRANCE QUARTERFINAL MATCHUPS:
QF 1: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) vs TBD
QF 2: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs TBD
QF 3: Tyler Wright (AUS) vs TBD
QF 4: Courtney Conlogue (USA) vs TBD
UPCOMING ROXY PRO FRANCE ROUND 4 MATCHUPS:
Heat 1: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) vs Alana Blanchard (HAW)
Heat 2: Pauline Ado (FRA) vs Sofia Mulanovich (PER)
Heat 3: Malia Manuel (HAW) vs Sage Erickson (USA)
Heat 4: Lakey Peterson (USA) vs Coco Ho (HAW)
ROXY PRO FRANCE ROUND 3 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 15.90, Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 15.83, Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 9.64
Heat 2: Carissa Moore (HAW) 15.77, Pauline Ado (FRA) 14.33, Alana Blanchard (HAW) 6.76
Heat 3: Tyler Wright (AUS) 16.27, Malia Manuel (HAW) 14.23, Coco Ho (HAW) 11.16
Heat 4: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 13.73, Lakey Peterson (USA) 13.10, Sage Erickson (USA) 12.93
ROXY PRO FRANCE ROUND 2 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Alana Blanchard (HAW) 12.73 def. Silvana Lima (BRA) 10.66
Heat 2: Pauline Ado (FRA) 10.94 def. Rebecca Woods (AUS) 9.53
Heat 3: Coco Ho (HAW) 14.00 def. Lee Ann Curren (FRA) 12.57
Heat 4: Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 12.60 def. Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 12.10
Heat 5: Sage Erickson (USA) 12.60 def. Laura Enever (AUS) 12.23
Heat 6: Malia Manuel (HAW) 18.60 def. Paige Hareb (NZL) 14.97
ROXY PRO FRANCE ROUND 1 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 15.00, Bianca Buitentag (ZAF) 13.66, Silvana Lima (BRA) 7.07
Heat 2: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 16.57, Laura Enever (AUS) 12.04, Rebecca Woods (AUS) 8.67
Heat 3: Carissa Moore (HAW) 18.13, Malia Manuel (HAW) 12.40, Lee Ann Curren (FRA) 9.10
Heat 4: Tyler Wright (AUS) 14.37, Alana Blanchard (HAW) 11.36, Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 10.40
Heat 5: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 16.87, Sage Erickson (USA) 12.17, Pauline Ado (FRA) 12.07
Heat 6: Lakey Peterson (USA) 12.54, Coco Ho (HAW) 12.16, Paige Hareb (NZL) 6.90