Connor O’Leary (AUS) and Brisa Hennessy(CRI) have won the Quiksilver and ROXY Pro France, claiming victory in the Final bouts against Michel Bourez (FRA) and India Robinson (AUS) respectively, held in three-to-four foot surf at Culs Nus.
Stop No. 3 of 4 on the 2021 World Surf League (WSL) Challenger Series, the Quiksilver and ROXY Pro France had to negotiate through a very tricky forecast and timed competition perfectly to finish in classic French beachbreak conditions to crown the event winners in front of capacity crowds once again.
“I’m so happy to win and to have all the support from my amazing family and friends it’s a really special moment for me,” Hennessy stated. “India is a great competitor, I’m so proud of her and I believe she deserves to be at the top. It was definitely back-to-back and the waves totally changed and I was grateful I got that wave at the end.”
After two seasons on the Championship Tour, Hennessy failed to retain her spot at the end of the 2021 season but today took a big step forward in her requalifying effort for next year. Her path to the Final was flawless as she defeated all the form surfers of the moment to claim her first win at this level of competition. Coming into France ranked second on the Challenger Series after a 5th place in Portugal, Hennessy moved into 1st overtaking Gabriela Bryan (HAW) who had an uncharacteristic first-round exit in France.
In the Final, Hennessy swung first with a quick two-turn combo and a 6.83 to jump in an early lead and apply pressure on Robinson. The next exchange happened on smaller waves that didn’t offer quite as much wall to work with and both surfers walked away with an average number for their effort, the Australian with a slight advantage.
Under priority, Hennessy managed to find a couple of inside lefts to further improve her lead while her opponent was unable to position herself in the shifting sets out the back. On the 5-minute mark, Robinson finally found herself on a bomb and tagged it a number of times on her backhand for a 7.83 to turn the heat. But the Costa Rican answered right away with two massive turns for an excellent 8.40 to seal the deal on her ROXY Pro France victory.
India Robinson (AUS)’s runner-up today marks her career-best result so far. The Australian has been building momentum since the series started at the US Open and posted a huge statement today. The result will propel her into qualifying discussions in the 4th spot on the rankings before the final stop of the season.
“I’m super stoked on making my first Final at the Challenger Series level,” Robinson said. “I knew going up against Brisa was going to be tough, but ultimately my goal is to make the CT so I better get used to it. I’m super excited to go to Haleiwa next, where I’m from we have a lot of waves and power so I feel like I’m going to be comfortable there. The whole Aussie crew we’re such a close bunch and to see Connor win was really cool!”
In the Men’s Final, a pretty even first half of the heat saw Michel Bourez (FRA) and Connor O’Leary (AUS) exchange similar scores on the rights and lefts of Culs Nus with an advantage for the Australian. O’Leary pushed the Tahitian’s requirement a touch higher with a good little left he punctuated with a clean straight air midway through the heat.
Unfortunately for the Frenchman, the rights that gave him his best scores so far had disappeared and the lefts clearly favored O’Leary’s forehand attack and air game. As the clock ran down, Bourez was unable to fight back and O’Leary walked away with the win in the Quiksilver Pro France.
“I feel amazing, it’s been a huge day,” O’Leary said. “I’m literally on top of the world right now and cramping up, can’t wait to have a beer! I’ll just really enjoy the afternoon with the lads, they’ve been incredibly supportive so we’ll try to keep it up and finish the year strong!”
After a terrible start both in California and Portugal, the Australian from Cronulla needed something big in France and delivered with his first major win since Ballito in 2016. Today’s 10,000 points moved him up 94 spots into 6th on the Challenger Series rankings and virtually within reach of a fourth season among the world’s best in 2022.
Tahiti’s Michel Bourez (FRA) was in a similarly tough position coming ranked 108th before today. The Championship Tour veteran, a former winner on tour at Pipeline, Margaret River and Rio, grabbed the runner-up points to move into the Top 20 with one event remaining in Hawaii, a place where Bourez has performed exceptionally well in the past.
“Second place is good but first is always better,” Bourez said. “I’ve really tried my best and unfortunately it got a little tricky at the end there and he got the best of me. Connor’s one of the best surfers on tour and I want the best for him so I’m really happy for him. Hawaii and the good waves are coming so I’m really going to focus on that right now.”
Other big winners in France this week include Lucca Mesinas (PER), Joao Chianca (BRA) and Carlos Munoz (CRI) who all moved within the qualifying Top 12 currently. Semifinalist Mateus Herdy (BRA) got closer in 17th position, and Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) takes the rankings lead, but has already qualified via the CT.
In the women’s rankings, Sawyer Lindblad (USA) and Vahine Fierro (FRA) both move into the current Top 6 and Caitlin Simmers (USA) regains a little breathing room with her Semifinal finish in France that anchors her in 3rd on the rankings.
Here are the current Men’s Top12 and Women’s Top6 on the Challenger Series:
Men’s Challenger Series Top 12:
1 – Kanoa Igarashi (JPN)
2 – Ezekiel Lau (HAW)
3 – Jake Marshall (USA)
4 – Imaikalani Devault (HAW)
5 – Nat Young (USA)
6 – Connor O’Leary (AUS)
6 – Lucca Mesinas (PER)
6 – Joao Chianca (BRA)
9 – Liam O’Brien (AUS)
9 – Griffin Colapinto (USA)
11 – Carlos Munoz (CRI)
12 – Callum Robson (AUS)
Women’s Challenger Series Top 6:
1 – Brisa Hennessy (CRI)
2 – Gabriela Bryan (HAW)
3 – Caitlin Simmers (USA)
4 – India Robinson (AUS)
5 – Sawyer Lindblad (USA)
6 – Vahine Fierro (FRA)
The final stop on the 2021 Challenger Series will bring some of the world’s best surfers to Haleiwa, Hawaii from November 26 – December 7, 2021.
The 2021 Quiksilver and ROXY Pro France will unfold from October 16-24, 2021, at Capbreton / Hossegor / Seignosse, Landes, Nouvelle-Aquitaine – France. For all results, photos, video highlights and press releases, log on toworldsurfleague.com.
The Quiksilver and ROXY Pro France are made possible with the support of the cities of Capbreton, Hossegor and Seignosse, MACS, Landes, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Quiksilver and ROXY, Oakley, Hydro Flask, Tourtel Twist.
QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE FINAL RESULTS:
1 – Connor O’Leary (AUS) 12.76
2 – Michel Bourez (FRA) 10.73
ROXY PRO FRANCE FINAL RESULTS:
1 – Brisa Hennessy (CRI) 15.23
2 – India Robinson (AUS) 13.16
QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE SEMIFINAL RESULTS:
SF 1: Connor O’Leary (AUS) 13.93 def. Kanoa Igarashi (JPN)12.40
SF 2: Michel Bourez (FRA) 15.17 def. Mateus Herdy (BRA) 5.53
ROXY PRO FRANCE SEMIFINAL RESULTS:
SF 1: Brisa Hennessy (CRI) 14.50 def. Sawyer Lindblad (USA) 13.73
SF 2: India Robinson (AUS) 15.60 def. Caitlin Simmers (USA) 10.27
QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE QUARTERFINAL RESULTS:
QF 1: Connor O’Leary (AUS) 12.84 def. Maxime Huscenot (FRA) 7.37
QF 2: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 14.70 def. Lucca Mesinas (PER) 13.84
QF 3: Mateus Herdy (BRA) 13.73 def. Carlos Munoz (CRI) 2.30
QF 4: Michel Bourez (FRA) 9.77 def. Frederico Morais (PRT) 9.60
ROXY PRO FRANCE QUARTERFINAL RESULTS:
QF 1: Sawyer Lindblad (USA) 15.17 def. Dimity Stoyle (AUS) 7.20
QF 2: Brisa Hennessy (CRI) 13.33 def. Alyssa Spencer (USA) 8.83
QF 3: India Robinson (AUS) 10.50 def. Molly Picklum (AUS) 10.07
QF 4: Caitlin Simmers (USA) 11.93 def. Vahine Fierro (FRA) 11.04