Such is life on the Championship Tour in 2017 that two out of the past three Tour stop winners -- Sage Erickson and Nikki Van Dijk -- unceremoniously exited the Roxy Pro France in Round Two on the opening day in Hossegor.
At first glance it might easy to assume it was the subtle vagaries of the tide, and wind, influenced sandbanks at La Gravière that were the sources of their demise, however, the elements were relatively inconsequential. They were simply beaten by two surfers who surfed with intention and smarts.
World No. 4 Erickson took her loss to wildcard Bianca Buitendag in stride, but still struggled to find a conciliatory perspective considering her recent rich vein of form. Afterward, she wavered between anger and her natural inclination to smile and move on.
This loss will sting for Erickson who, after her victory at the US Open of Surfing, found herself suddenly thrust into the World Title chase, even with a Quarterfinal finish last week in Portugal at the Cascais Women's Pro. It's her first 13th since the opening event of the year at the Roxy Pro Gold Coast and it probably ends any chance at winning the Championship this season.
World No. 5 Nikki Van Dijk's loss to rookie No. 16 Bronte Macaulay, who has advanced past Round Two only once so far this season (back at Snapper Rocks in March), in the very next heat was equally perplexing.
Van Dijk, still basking in the afterglow of her first ever CT victory in Cascais just a few short days ago, will be feeling the effects of competitive whiplash -- standing on the podium raising a winner's trophy over your head one minute, scratching your head after a Round Two loss the next.
Both surfers, who appeared to be as disappointed about missing the forecasted run of epic French beachbreak conditions as much as their defeats, will need to shake off their losses and, hopefully, take away a valuable lesson: Overlook anyone on Tour in 2017 at your own peril.