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Both surfers in the Roxy Pro Final had a lot to gain from a French event win. Tyler Wright's campaign for a World Title would accelerate considerably. Courtney Conlogue, the only surfer in the Top 17 to miss events this season, is on the bubble for requalification, sitting in the 12th position on the rankings. A 10,000-point win would put her above the cutoff for 2015.
Wright used her radical maneuvers on the lip to earn two nine-point rides on back-to-back waves. Conlogue, looking for her first event win for the 2014 season, had to take big risks to try to overtake a near-perfect two-wave total.
With a comfortable lead, Wright went for a big air and slob grab, and rode out cleanly for another nine. She continued her tear with a 9.70, which only further improved her heat total. The Australian finished the Final with four nine-point rides.
"That was one of the best Finals I've ever been in wave-wise," Wright said after her second event win of 2014. "It wasn't a wave-catching contest, it was a wave-riding contest and that's the way I love to surf."
Result: Wright, 19.20, def. Conlogue, 12.43
Both competitors in the second Semifinals heat came in with something to prove: Carissa Moore was competing in her first event of the season without the yellow jersey and Courtney Conlogue was on her way to the best result on her comeback trail.
The Hawaiian scored a seven for a single maneuver ride featuring an extreme layback and took the lead with a midrange backup. Conlogue forced a lead change when she attacked the lip with three big hacks on back-to-back rights and held on to claim the second spot in the Final.
"I'm feeling good to be in the Final but I definitely would like to win it," Conlogue said. "It's been a roller coaster this year. I've had a lot of things happen I haven't had happen to me before. It's been a lot of work but it's paying off."
Tyler Wright threw a ton of spray to open her Semifinal campaign with the day's first nine-point ride. Competing in her second consecutive Semifinal, Johanne Defay answered with a midrange score but the Aussie's backup score had her hunting a near-perfect ride going into the backend of the heat.
Wright powered through her third wave for an excellent score, putting Defay in a combo situation. Defay replaced her bottom scores with midrange rides, slicing up the glassy faces with multiple fins-free carves, but she was still hunting a high nine with little time remaining. Defay bowed out of her home event but adds another equal third finish to her rookie season.
"I have a really good board for these conditions and I'm pretty happy with how I'm surfing," said Wright, who had just made her second consecutive Final. "When we're in the Final I'm just going to do what I do and surf the way I wanna surf."
Result: Wright, 17.00, def. Defay, 13.50
Quarterfinal 4 had massive Title implications. Carissa Moore lost her No. 1 rank to Fitzgibbons after a disappointing finish at Trestles and hit the water with renewed determination. The Hawaiian drew first blood with a two-maneuver opener, combining a hack and a finishing layback to take the early lead.
Stephanie Gilmore, who won at Trestles, struggled to find her footing on the wax. She faltered on all but one wave. France is known for drastic changes in conditions, and the Australian wasn't able to find another scoring opportunity.
"The tide's going out and it's constantly changing," Moore said. "I was kind of bummed, because I was really looking forward to that matchup with Steph. I thought we were really going to go blow-for-blow. But I am stoked to make it through."
Result: Moore, 10.60, def. Gilmore, 5.03
Courtney Conlogue stormed into Quarterfinal 3, riding four waves in the opening 10 minutes and clocking two keepers -- one in the excellent range. Bianca Buitendag's single wave score kept her in reach of a lead change. The South African's second solid score came in late and short of what she needed. Her run to the Quarters earned her an equal fifth finish.
"That rip got tricky at the end," Conlogue said. "She had priority and I was wanting to replace my score and hoped for a set to come through. I was kind of gambling a bit, rolling the dice, so I'm psyched to make it through."
Result: Conlogue, 15.00, def. Buitendag, 14.20
Title rivals Tyler Wright and Sally Fitzgibbons found themselves pitted against each other in an all-Aussie Quarterfinal heat. Wright controlled the heat early, accomplishing multiple carves to Fitzgibbons' two-carve ride. A narrow tube ride for a backup midrange score put the World No. 1 on her heels going into the second half of the heat.
Fitzgibbons started her comeback campaign on her backhand and was only needing a midrange score going into the final 10 minutes. She forced a lead change when she amped up her rail-to-rail game. The final set gave both surfers opportunity for one last lead change and another Quarterfinal upset.
"I didn't mean for it to be that close," Wright said. "It doesn't matter to me whose in my heat. I'm just gonna go out and do what I do."
Result: Wright, 12.53, def. Fitzgibbons, 12.24
Looking for another Quarterfinal upset, local surfer Johanne Defay kept pace with Malia Manuel throughout the face-off. After two lead changes, at the halfway point Manuel held a slight lead over the rookie with two two-maneuver waves on her scoreline.
Manuel's downfall started at the 10-minute mark when Defay tallied a matching backup score. The Hawaiian was chasing a high seven-pointer when she took off on a Hail Mary. But she mistimed the final turn and her score didn't budge. She'll leave France with an equal-fifth finish.
"I was thinking [I'd] surf and enjoy since yesterday was pretty stressful," Defay said. "There's a lot of water in the wave so you feel like you have to push, but when you push it's not as stable so I'm glad I made it."
Result: Defay, 12.53, def. Manuel, 8.50