Had Smith or Banting on your Fantasy team? Update your picks here.
The World Surf League Commissioner's Office has allocated one of the slots for former CT surfer Aritz Aranburu (ESP), due to his recent performance at the Billabong Pro Tahiti in August, where he finished in ninth place. The other injury slot will go to the highest-ranked Qualifying Series (QS) surfer not yet in the event after the QS10,000-level contest that's running this week in Cascais, Portugal.
The Quiksilver Pro will be the third contest that both Banting and Smith have missed this season. In a video (top) from the J-Bay Open in July, Smith discussed his string of injuries and ongoing struggle to compete.
"My summary of 2015 has been really bad," he said. "I just can't get ahead." The South African heavyweight suffered a shoulder injury at the end of 2014 that left him rehabbing throughout the offseason. At the third event of the year, the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro, he lacerated his foot during a freesurf and hurt his knee. After a poor performance at the next event, the Oi Rio Pro, he withdrew from the contest that followed, the Fiji Pro.
Smith tried to make a comeback at J-Bay, but it was not to be: He hurt his back during a warmup for the event, and withdrew after Round 2. He sat out the Tahiti contest in August, the Hurley Pro at Trestles (which he won last year) in September, and now France. He is currently ranked No. 25 on the Jeep Leaderboard, three spots lower than the cutoff to make the 2016 Tour.
Banting also hurt himself during the J-Bay Open waiting period, injuring his knee in a freesurf. He withdrew just before his first heat. A rookie on the elite Championship Tour, Banting is now ranked at No. 30, eight spots lower than the cutoff, which puts his 2016 season in jeopardy.
"He's just starting to get on a bit of a roll on Tour and having an injury his rookie year is pretty devastating so I feel for him," Mick Fanning (AUS) said at the time. He would have competed against Banting in the first Round.
Catch the elite Top 34 surfers (minus Smith and Banting) at the Quiksilver Pro France live here daily and on the WSL app starting Tuesday, October 6 local time. Plus, the women's CT surfers will compete live at the Roxy Pro France.