The world's top surfers are competing this week in southwest France, battling powerful waves and each other at the annual Quiksilver and Roxy Pro contests. Some of them -- who travel on the highly competitive Championship Tour -- will be scratching for rankings points to keep their jobs in 2016. Others will be in the fights of their lives, working toward winning a World Title by season's end.
But in a country known more for its brie than its barrels, how's a pro to navigate baguettes, red wine, croissants and pâté -- all without losing her competitive edge? A few shared secrets to having their cake and surfing it off. Here are their top 3 for staying healthy, energetic and yes, hungry, while competing in the global capital of all things delicious.
1. When You Eat Is as Important as What You Eat
The good news? Those flaky croissants aren't off the table. Just don't eat them for breakfast, especially if your heat is among the first of the day.
"You want to be hungry," said Courtney Conlogue (USA), who's currently No. 1 in world on the elite Championship Tour (CT) of surfing. "If you're hungry, you're going to want to attack and get to the finish line."
And Conlogue should know: Not only has she been competing in France every year for almost a decade, but she's chasing down surfing's biggest prize, the annual World Title. With that trophy just arms-length (and two contests) away, Conlogue's competitive fire is palpable.
"If you have a later heat, you might fuel up in the morning," she said. "I do a little bit of a banana for a peanut butter-honey-banana sandwich. It has the protein, the easy sugar -- the honey -- then you have the bread. It's the ultimate little power breakfast." (And no, it's not really French.)
An early heat, however, doesn't mean you should skip the good stuff the night before. On the contrary, Conlogue says, having a healthy dinner -- like her go-to local special, magret de canard with frites and salad -- is part of the winning strategy.
2. It's All About Balance -- In the Water and Out
It should be no surprise that the world's best surfers know a thing or two about finding their footing. Whether they're in heavy, cold-water waves or in a town packed with crepêries, boulangeries and bars, no one's caught off guard. Pro surfers like pastries and beer as much as the next guy, but they're not on a first-name basis with their baker (or their bartender, for that matter).
"I'm all about a balanced diet, I like to enjoy my sweets," said two-time World Champion Carissa Moore. A perennial Top 5 surfer, she's fighting for her third Title at the Roxy Pro France, the second-to-last women's contest of the year.
Along with massive talent and hard work, Moore's approach to fueling up is key to her winning formula. Even in the land of wine and cheese, she said, she eats vegetables, lean meat of some sort or fish. As long as I'm not overindulging in anything, that's what works the best for me. My favorite thing to eat here is salmon, but I don't think that's too different from home."
Taking a page out of Carissa's book is Brazilian pro Jadson Andre, who's known for his perpetual smile and perseverance. No matter what country he's in, he opts for rice, fish and vegetables for dinner. His rock-solid diet routine may be the secret to his even-keeled results: Ranked at No. 20 on the Championship Tour (out of 34 surfers on the men's CT), Andre is far outside the World Title conversation, but will likely keep his spot on Tour in 2016 (on the men's CT, surfers ranked from 1 - 22 automatically requalify).
There's just one thing that he doesn't like about France's standard fare: For a pro with heats to win, the portions are just too small.
3. BYOS (Bring Your Own Snacks)
Yes, even in France it's ok to pack healthy snacks. No, it's not as much fun as grabbing a galette on the go, but who said winning wasn't hard work?
"I'm super-picky, and I'm not a big fan of bread," said Hawaiian Alessa Quizon. "Sometimes I bring stuff from home. You have a routine that you do everywhere. I don't like to eat heavily before a heat, so it's a power bar or some kind of fruit."
Coming into the contest in France, Quizon is ranked No. 14 in the world on the CT. While she's ranked too low to be in the Title race, she has a comfortable spot on the next-lowest tier of contests, which will requalify her for elite status in 2016. With the pressure off, Quizon can keep brown-bagging it in France, part of a gameplan for double-duty Tour life.
Yet as easy as these athletes make it all sound, there's still one petite problem that the pros haven't solved completely: Here in France, chocolate croissants are practically growing on trees. What's a pro surfer to do?
Tom Carroll (AUS) sees those pieces of heaven as a reward. "It's a treat, maybe after the event," he said. "In fact, I used to compete with very little food in me. I'm much sharper mentally. Plus, your body's not wasting any energy in the nervous system."
And as for Moore, who's chasing a World Title?
"I'll probably eat half of a chocolate croissant if I have the option, or I'd have one in a week," she said. After all, "You're in France, you've got to!"