Malia, Seabass on deck when French action reconvenes

The quarterfinals are set in the Roxy Pro France and Malia Manuel will paddle out in the very first heat as she tries to reach the semifinals for the third time in the past four World Championship Tour events. Her opponent will be French local Johanne Defay, who has seen a surge in her results as the season has reached its later stages.

As for the men’s Quiksilver Pro France, Sebastian Zietz will also be in the first heat once the men’s tournament resumes.

The men completed nine of 12 second-round heats during Saturday’s action but cut the day short just before Zietz and Australia’s Mitch Crews were set to face off in their elimination heat. It’s an important matchup for both in their re-qualification efforts. Seabass came in ranked 20th in the season standings and Crews sits in 25th place.

Manuel won’t be worried about re-qualifying as she has put together her best season to date and entered France ranked fifth in the women’s WCT. 

But she is still looking for her first finals appearance and she sits two heat wins from that accomplishment. Of all the remaining women, Defay seems to be the biggest long shot. 

The other quarterfinal matchups will see current No. 1 Sally Fitzgibbons take on 2013 runner-up Tyler Wright, a recuperated Courtney Conlogue going against Bianca Buitendag and defending world champ Carissa Moore facing five-time world champ Stephanie Gilmore.

But Malia’s matchup with Defay certainly won’t be an easy one. Now in a tie with Coco Ho for 10th place on the season, Defay didn’t reach the quarterfinals in any of the first four events of the year. But she knocked out fellow French woman Pauline Ado Saturday in round four to now make the quarters in the past four events, so her star has clearly been on the rise.

Manuel moved straight into the quarters with her round three victory over Ado and Wright on Friday. It’s become the norm rather than the exception for the Wailua surfer this season as she has now made the final eight in six of the year’s eight contests. She clearly didn’t let the disappointment of a second-round defeat at Lower Trestles last week dampen her spirits. Malia will be the favorite against Defay, but as always, there are no easy heats on the women’s tour.

After some of the top seeds stumbled in round one of the men’s competition, almost all of the second-round heats went according to plan.

 Kelly Slater, Mick Fanning and John John Florence were all relegated to the elimination round two, but those three took care of business in the first three heats to set the tone for the favorites. 

Slater took to the air on his way to a 16.27 total that ousted Dane Reynolds and Fanning and Florence summarily knocked off upset-minded Matt Banting and Raoni Monteiro, respectively.

Freddy Patacchia had a fierce battle with Brazil’s Alejo Muniz in Saturday’s final heat and ultimately made Hawaii’s men 2-0 on the day after John John’s earlier win. Patacchia is right there with Seabass in the season standings, one spot ahead of the Kauai surfer in 19th place. He’s done what he needs to do to control his own destiny by reaching the third round. Zietz must now follow suit to keep pace.

The French beach break is 12 hours ahead of Hawaiian time, so all the action has been featured in prime time on Oceanic Surf channels 250 and 1250. Sunday’s heats, if conditions were appropriate, would have gotten underway Saturday night Hawaiian time with Seabass first in the water.


David Simon can be reached at


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