Pauline Ado and Jorgann Couzinet claimed the 2018 European Champion titles earlier this year. It's Ado's sixth career regional title and the second back-to-back for Couzinet. Both surfers won the Pro Zarautz pres. by Oakley and placed runner-up at the Las Americas Pro Tenerife on their way to the top of the regional ladder.
The two French athletes then had a different trajectory on the Qualifying Series and find themselves in different positions heading into the final events of the season.
Ado, who already spent five years among the world's best surfers of the Top 17, struggled to translate her European success to the bigger events and sits in 21st position on the rankings at the eve of the QS6,000 Port Stephens Toyota Pro. With 6,560 points in her pocket, even a win in Australia would hardly take her into the Top 10. Various scenarios with double-qualifiers on the Championship Tour and poor results from the top QS athletes could potentially see Ado claim a come-from-behind qualification for the 2019 CT but it's a long shot.
"I'm happy to have done well in Europe this year especially in Anglet my home town," she said. "But obviously my main goal is still to qualify and in the bigger events I haven't really done so well, so it's a bit of mixed feelings."
However, a great result at Port Stephens could salvage Ado's campaign and built back her confidence levels up before trying again next season.
"There are so many girls on the QS that are ripping right now so it's hard," she added. "There are a lot of young girls that come up and they're not afraid so you have to keep up with the level. I have more experience and I know myself better so I think that's an advantage that I can play with."
For Couzinet on the other hand, things are looking up! The powerful Reunion Island surfer is currently within the qualifying Top 10 on the QS and still has a couple of opportunities to solidify his ranking. The almighty VANS Triple Crown of Surfing is only days away and will offer two more chances to score points with the QS10,000 Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa and VANS World Cup at Sunset.
"I feel great at the moment," he said. "I'm testing my new Eric Arakawa quiver right now and am super motivated. I don't really feel any more pressure than last year but I really want to make it happen. These two waves are quite complex to handle, you could spend all your time fighting the rip or duckdiving, so I'm preparing myself physically and mentally to handle that. But I think powerful surfers do have an advantage so I'm stoked with that."
Haleiwa and Sunset are two waves that could fit right in Couzinet's game to lay down his signature carves and coming off Reunion he must know a thing or two about barrel riding as well.
"I've been coming here for three years now so I feel more and more comfortable every time," he continued. "Those big bowls on my forehand are definitely something I enjoy surfing. I am even more determined than last year and I can once again almost reach for my dream right there. I feel like I'm better prepared and have a better entourage this year so I'm hoping this will make a difference!"
You can tune in to the Port Stephens Toyota Pro this week, the Hawaiian Pro from November 12-24 and the VANS World Cup from November 25 - December 6 right here at worldsurfleague.com and via the WSL Facebook page and app.