The WSL circus has packed up and left town and the dust is begining to settle here in Hossegor. The competition unfortunately didn’t enjoy the classic conditions it has become accustomed to over the past few years, and although there were some amazing heats (like this one) we reckon the majority of the most exciting action has taken place outside of the contest arena.
Josh Kerr glides into a perfectly glassy right at La Graviere before the waiting period.
The few days leading up to the start of the waiting period saw a few solid days at La Grav, serving up the sort of conditions everyone hopes to see when the buzzer sounds for the first heat.
However when the comp finally got underway, shifting banks, quickly changing conditions are a whole range of other challenges meant it never managed to quite hunt down that perfect window – where the wind was light and in the right direction, the tides on the right bank and the swell was at the perfect size and not closing out.
Italo Ferreira warms up on the left off the contest peak one windy evening before competition got underway.
The images you see here should not be used as evidence that the unenviable tasks of contest director and commissioner were being done badly, as they feature rare moments of luck, when a peak somewhere along Hossegor’s several miles of coastline would suddenly light up for half an hour and a few of the whole array of talented surfers staying nearby would appear in the line up.
During the past two weeks Hossegor has not only been playing host to the top 33, but also a whole host of other top surfers, including locals, semi-locals, international pro’s and teams of free-surfing groms and we’ve been pointing our lenses at all of them. So without further ado, here are some of the free-surf highlights we’ve witnessed:
Estagnots played host to a series of epic banks, with shallow and super hollow rights and lefts reeling off in ever direction.
Giant slayer Leo Fioravanti free surfing on the contest peak the evening before he took down Slater in France. Photo Luke Gartside
Local Vincent Duvignac looking very at home as he locks into one of many La Grav drainers a few days before competition gets underway.
16 year-old Indonesian Rio Waida has been turning heads for some time now. Here he launches of a solid section during a stormy surf in Biarritz. Photo Luke Gartside
Vincent Duvignac again threading a gurgling Graviere pit.
Brit Harry Timson spends the summer out in France living in the Volcom house and always knows where the best banks are. Here he hunts down a perfect alley-oop section.
An empty wave rolls through before the (dubious) call is made to run the first heats on day one of competition.
Adriano De-Souza throws an arc of backlit spray on the contest bank.
Barrel hound Maxime Huscenot finds the only keg available on a stormy day in Biarritz.
Shaper Daniel ‘Tomo’ Thompson gets high off his own supply with a buttery evening layback.
Brazilian junior Jesse Mendes finds a perfect drainer in the shadow of the Pyrenees
Matt Banting blows the tail with his signature style during a competition lay day.
Kolohe Andino washes away the early morning cobwebs on an absolute bomb at Culs-Nuls.
Josh Kerr’s aerial prowess has not faded with age. Here he throws a textbook rodeo-flip.
Rob Machado stalls for a keg before the sun makes it over the dune one morning at La Grav
French Grom Marco Mignot hucks a backflip of an ugly section in Biarritz. Photo Luke Gartside
Portuguese surfer Teresa Bonvalot was in town cheering on boyfriend Kanoa Igarashi… and turning heads with her super high performance surfing.
An empty keg rolls through at La Grav
Kolohe Andino with a morning stretch before the first call.
Jordy Smith busts a straight air during a free surf.
Matt Banting throws a butter-smooth-tail-high reverse.
All photos Luke Gartside // @lugarts