Quiksilver Pro France–The Parties

1 10 2009

Fanning's French Connection

Editor’s note: Dave Mailman is an American expat and surfer who has been living in France for more than a decade. Currently, he’s the president of ASP Europe. I asked him to write about the parties that surrounded the Quiksilver Pro France. This is his story.

Mick Fanning would have preferred if Quiksilver followed the example set by Hurley at Trestles and upped the first-place prize money by $65,000. Instead they spent significantly more than 65K on turning the Place des Landais* into a full-blown, week-long music, film and sports festival. One would think White Lightning bagging 10 percent of Kelly Slater’s lifetime prize money in the span of two weeks would have made a bigger splash in the world of surfing than one DJ set, two movie premieres, three concerts and four guys flying over the beach on motorcycles. But that’s not the way logic works in Hossegor.

The first night of the waiting period started with a blast from surfing’s past, and a glimpse of the French surfing future. Quiksilver’s Jeff Hakman made the trip from Hawaii to shake hands, kiss babies and amongst many other VIP functions, do the presentation of Bustin’ Down the Door, projected onto the giant screen set up in front of the legendary Rock Food. That was followed, somewhat anti-climatically for everyone not of French nationality, by the presentation of the 2009 ISA Surfing Games video. Most visitors to this country wish they could at least understand a little of the local lingo. On this occasion it was a blessing in disguise they couldn’t.

Night two on “Quiksilver Square” was dedicated to the free-surfing exploits of young French wildcard Joan Duru, with a sneak preview of his upcoming video Watchaouch. Don’t ask me what the name means. The locals probably don’t know either, but judging by their reaction to the clip they could care less. They were just stoked that one of theirs was finally getting a video to call his own, and raucously celebrating their newest hero’s victory in Round 1. Joan is made from a similar mold as Dane Reynolds. So, maybe it was a bit too much celebrating that kept him from finding the 5-point ride he needed to take out King Kelly the next day.

The Frenchies party to Euro trash techno. Quiksilver/Bailey

The Frenchies party to Euro trash techno. Quiksilver/Bailey

TGIF is a concept that translates into the French psyche quite nicely, and the 15,000 spectators packed into the Place des Landais for the DC FMX show wouldn’t disagree. Once the FMX crew was done showing why their sport headlines the X-Games while surfing got kicked out of the event, the crowd dispersed as rapidly as it had come. Which left but a few hundred female fans of French electro shaking it to the sounds of an up-and-coming artist called Yuksek. Since the same day also signaled the end of Round 2, there were quite a few of the boys, most notably Wardo, hanging around. Not so much for the music, but to numb the feelings of a 33rd place finish with the freebies being offered up to any and all pro surfers daring enough to dive under or dance around on top of the bar in the Rock Food.

When Saturday night fell, 32 of the Top 45 and all but one wildcard had been bundled out of the surfing competition, most notably our current (for how much longer?) number one Joel Parkinson. That was the signal for the start of a new contest, the one to see who could drown their sorrows the fastest and blow off the most steam.

Stephen Bell (aka Belly Slater) took on the role of drinking contest director and threw down a massive shindig at Euroglass (the biggest surfboard factory in Europe) with beers and barbecue ‘a go go’, all set to the tunes of a rocking local AC/DC cover band. Everyone who is anyone was there, including QS backstage party boy Hoyo, Parko and many other inebriated Aussies taking turns on the mic doing their best Bon Scott impersonations. It’s interesting to note that the majority of Pro France social functions are either attended by the French, or by the international crew and their entourages. Rarely do the two groups indulge in combined festivities. The Euroglass party was the exception.

A notable no show was Mr. Robert Kelly Slater, who had other obligations back at Hossegor main beach, where he was obliged to be for the thousands of French fans who had shown up to check out Cloud 9, the latest QS release about his last title campaign. Once Kelly had left the building, it was concert time for the punters once again, with Ben Howard as an opening act and London based Kiwi sensations I Am Giant headlining on stage. Surprisingly, quite a few of the crew managed to find their way back from the AC/DC party a bit too late to catch the end of the official concerts, but right on time for the opening of the Bakoua nightclub (affectionately known in local circles as the Backwash) located stumbling distance down a flight of stairs underneath the Rock Food. Saturday night was officially over and the morning of the final had officially begun.

Dane Reynolds can even make a cutback at a two-foot beachbreak interesting. Quiksilver/Testemale

Dane Reynolds can even make a cutback at a two-foot beachbreak interesting. Quiksilver/Testemale

As dawn broke on Sunday morning, quite a few people were nursing serious hangovers, and for quite a few more, still inebriated after the nocturnal swim-throughs, the headaches were yet to begin. But pro surfing waits for no one, and hangovers or not, the show must go on. And it did. And Mick Fanning, as you all know already, took home the win.

The final evening’s festivities got started as soon as the contest timer blew its last two blasts into the muggy air of a fine French Indian summer afternoon. Actually, the beers were already flowing in full force in the VIP and competitors areas as Bede and Mick paddled out into the uncharacteristically meager beachbreak surf, but the party doesn’t officially start until someone has been declared the winner.

In Hossegor, tradition dictates the winner of the contest and all his “best mates” converge on the center of town for the unofficial victory celebration at the Café de Paris. Hoyo was one of the first on the scene, laying the groundwork for a night of debauchery with giraffe after giraffe** of his favorite golden nectar. At this point, you would expect Eugene Fanning to come out for a celebratory libation or three, but the only Fanning on hand was Mick. A smile on his face and a beer in his hand, most definitely, but Eugene was nowhere to be seen. It was probably a good thing though, because Eugene would have been too pissed to remember to drop a 1000€ on the bar to shout all his bros. And as it turned out, Eugene didn’t need to make an appearance for things to get weird. There were other members of the Cooly clan on hand to make sure that the celebration would be one to remember.

Before the sun had set the party had kicked into overdrive. Two party animals named Rabbit and Dingo came out to play and they brought a menagerie of their closest friends.  Dingo had nuded up and was literally off to the races with a set of alcohol-fueled sprints up and down the main drag faced off against the White Fijian, who thankfully remained fully clothed. A lack of serious surf of consequence on tour this year must have been the catalyst for the car surfing that ensued not long after, with a sizable portion of the Top 45 risking life and limb perched in various ’70s surf poses atop hoods and roofs of random cars on happy hour cruises through the main intersection in town. The only surfers absent from all the fun… Kelly, Miky and Jeremy. In their defense, there was Act 1 of the Quiksilver Poker Nights going on at the same time in a house across town, and their presence must have been requested to press the flesh of the VIPs, key clients and mainstream media betting their lives away for the chance to win free Quiksilver gear.

Local hero Patrick Bevan took down Parko, Dean Morrison and Bobby Martinez en route to a third place. Quiksilver/Chauche

Local hero Patrick Bevan took down Parko, Dean Morrison and Bobby Martinez en route to a third place finish. Quiksilver/Chauche

Sometime after midnight noise restrictions in town forced the party back down to the beach to its rightful home behind the bar at the Rock Food. When I say “behind” the bar, I mean it. Every pro and member of the ASP staff is more than welcome to crawl under the bar and help themselves to free drinks while the members of the general public look on with a hint of jealousy and wonderment. Being behind the bar is kind of like being an animal at the zoo, but a hell of a lot more fun. For the last 20 years this bar and its owner Roland Calaudi have been the major instigators of some of the most bodacious parties anywhere on tour. Unfortunately, like a fine French wine, Roland and the Rock Food have mellowed with age.

The days of the Spanish strippers dancing on the bar are no more, replaced by teenage groupies in tight jeans and low-cut tops, but it was still a good time. Mick (still no Eugene) tossed back a few with Bobby, while trying to explain to Freddy Patacchia there is no Bud Light in France, so Carlsberg it must be. Rabbit and Dingo were embraced in an eternal headlock, beating their chests and regaling each other with stories of the good old days at Kirra. Josh Kerr stood calmly in a corner taking it all in and rehabbing his ankle with ice-cold beer. Parko was doing the same but in a manner not quite so calm. Bede was a wee bit tipsy and grinning from ear to ear, almost as happy as if he’d won. The poker game had apparently found a winner so even Miky and Jeremy showed up and finally started to let their hair down. Last but not least, Perry and his merry men were in the house as well, releasing some of the tension that had built up over 5 days locked in the pressure-cooker ASP judging tower.

Even at the Rock Food, all good things must come to an end. At 2 a.m. the carriage turned back into a pumpkin and all the party people spilled back out onto the square. The Bakoua club opened her doors like the tired old whore that she is and beckoned invitingly to anyone who would listen to go on down and give her a try. And quite a few of the aforementioned culprits did. Once inside her deepest darkest depths, what did they find? Well, it was a packed house, with punters and pros alike sweating and bumping and grinding to trashy Euro techno and out-of-date hits jacked up on vodka tonics and having a grand old time. And in the middle of it all, Hossegor’s newest hero was shirtless and swinging, surrounded by busty blonds all with the hots just for him. Who was that masked man? Jordy? Dane? Jeremy? Adriano? Tiago? Kelly? Parko? No, no and no. It wasn’t Monsieur Fanning either. Mick had won the comp, but that little giant killer, Patrick Beven was the king of the night… and the day.

Fin.

* The town square that sits in front of the main beach in Hossegor, surrounded by bars and packed nightly with drunken teenagers and 20 somethings from sunset to sunrise from the middle of June until the end of September.

** A large plastic tube with a tap on the bottom that holds 5 liters of beer. Mr. Hoy and friends set the record of 52 giraffes downed in one night a few years ago. It is a record that still stands.

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8 responses

1 10 2009
Jay

Good story Mailman. Makes me want to go next year.

1 10 2009
Sgt. Galardo

Dane’s cutback pictured above was magic. Like Fantasia after a hit of acid.

1 10 2009
Money

After reading that I feel like I drank six giraffes of beer and chased with 16 Ambiens.

1 10 2009
Blasphemy Rottmouth

Good effort Mailman. Your skills are understandably rusty, but your approach needs to have more conviction. Rather than tentatively tickle around the taint of a story; dive in there like Jessica Biel’s gynecologist on an XTC binge. We need more beef.

For instance, a bunch of pros drinking with their hos is not, by definition, a debaucherous night. That’s everynight in Orange County. However, a detailed account of Kelly, Miky and Jeremy’s poker night – a night that ended with Miky being elbow deep in Jeremy’s colon while Bruna videotaped and Kelly swung from the chandeliers while yodeling Lady Ga Ga tunes in Yiddish; now THAT’s debaucherous.

The tales of car surfing are interesting. But male nudity on the tour is probably more common than in most bathhouses in New York City.

What I’m trying to say, is the bones and there. A skeleton has been built. Now, all you have to do is pack it with flesh and guts.

I look forward to a sharper effort after these last two Euro contests. After all, you’re all we gots on the ground over there. So pull a Jane Fonda and fuck the troops for the sake of the truth gawdammit!

1 10 2009
Benjamin Franklin

Americans traditionally hate the French. Most likely because they are perceived as rude, have tits on the free TV and we saved their ass in WW II. I like the French. Most don’t recall they helped us send those British bastards home in 1777. We wouldn’t have this fucked up land mass we call a country without those Euro pieces of trash. Besides I used to bag those French whores six at time in my day.

And Blasphemy, that was a legendary comment above.

1 10 2009
Blasphemy Rottmouth

We done got the moderators pissed over at Stab. Heh heh. I guess talking about ass when they post a picture of Alana in a thong is a little to risque for those prude pricks.

Another surfing website bites the dust.

Do me a favor Nug, keep this shit here real… no matter how banal our comments get. Us pithy slugs need someplace to blow our rectal vapors without fear of impunity.

1 10 2009
The Nug

Fret not. Moderation is not a word in my vocabulary.

2 10 2009
Dave Mailman

Thanks for the advice Blas! I will strive to do better on my missive from Supertubes. Truth be told, I didn’t even attend one of the aforementioned events. Actually, I was at the Rock Food on the last night from midnight until closing. For the rest, I got the lowdown from people who were there. Our good buddy, PostSurf Mike (who didn’t come crash on my couch, btw) is right. I’m usually on lockdown at home, cooking for the lady and the kid, before checking the latest episode of House! Anyway, since I do use my own name when I comment, and now post, it would be a wee bit touchy for me to “use my imagination” the way that you do, seeing that I work on the contests with the surfers in question. I cannot allow myself the same liberties that you took with Alana! Alas!

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