Held in the memory of Pierre Agnes and with World Titles on the line, the French stop on the 2018 Championship Tour was a defining moment in the lives of numerous competitors. Here's why it was such an emotional roller coaster of an event.
The Death Of Pierre Agnes
The 2018 Quiksilver Pro France and Roxy Pro France were held in the shadow of the death of Pierre Agnes. The former Quiksilver CEO and the driving force behind European professional surfing had gone missing at sea a few months prior to the event. The competition therefore provided a way to both mourn and celebrate one of France's most influential surfers. Tributes poured in from those he had touched the most, most notably Kelly Slater, and the winners Julian Wilson and Courtney Conlogue both dedicated their wins to Agnes.
Ryan Callinan Turns The Corner
Ryan Callinan only received a wildcard into the Quiksilver Pro France after winning QS10,000 event in Portugal the week before. That win had secured his CT status after dropping off after his rookie year in 2016. Callinan then had to deal with the loss of both his parents due to separate illnesses within the space of 15 months.
In the pristine Hossegor beachbreaks though Callinan scorched through the field defeating Filipe Toledo and Jordy Smith. It took a ten from Julian Wilson in the Final to defeat him. The likable Callinan dedicated his performance to his late mother and father, setting the platform for an electric return to surfing's top table. He's never looked back.
Steph Gilmore Hurts Like Hell
"It's the worst feeling, ever. You are trying so hard and there's so much pressure," Stephanie Gilmore said trying, and failing, to hold back the tears after losing in Round 3. Gilmore could have claimed her 7th World Title in France, but her upset loss had opened the door to her rival Lakey Peterson. "Look I'm emotional, but that just shows how much I care about it. It stings and it hurts, but now it's all about Maui."
Then Peterson Feels The Pain
"I felt like the chips were falling into place, but honestly I am just disappointed with my surfing. I let a couple of things get in my head too much and that affected the control of the heat." That was Lakey Peterson after she had lost her Round 3 heat, and with it any real chance of claiming a World Title.
The Californian tried to maintain a positive attitude, but the pain and disappointment was written large over her face. This was a crushing loss and another huge blow to her life long goal of being a World Champion.
Joel Parkinson's Last Heat in France
There was more raw emotion when Joel Parkinson surfed his last ever heat in France after being defeated by the Wildcard Mikey Wright. The 2012 World Champion has been traveling to Hossegor for 17 years and has a special bond with the waves and the people of Les Landes.
"I'm not happy to have lost, but I'm happy to walk away at the right time," said Parkinson. "I owe this sport and this place so much. I'll keep trying to pay it back." He started that process by giving his board to a stoked grom on the beach. In a fitting twist Rosy Hodge then handed over her post heat interview microphone to Parkinson's 14-year-old daughter Evie. Her first question; "Dad, when are we next coming back to France?"