Words by Ronnie Blakey // Images by Brandon Guilmette
Like, when we say “up-and-riding” or “rail game” everybody has a drink. “Full rotation” is also worth a drink. “He’s combo’d!” That’s two drinks. You get the idea. Sounds kinda fun but unfortunately we can’t play while covering the show.
So, after the Rip Curl event in Portugal wrapped up, a few of us nestled in for a late lunch and played a drinking game of our own. The rules: no using each others nicknames, you couldn’t say ‘please’ or ‘thank you,’ you couldn’t say ‘fuck’ and you couldn’t say ‘good.’ You also couldn’t eat or drink using your right hand. I was awful at the game and got worse with every beer downed. The conversation was loud and varied. I remember little but can recall parts including banter about the title contenders, our excessive croissant consumption, first loves and the best food, wine and beer stops in Hossegor and Peniche.
Here’s some random recollections of our shit talk:
The beaches in Europe are fun but most of us, competitors included, leave France and Portugal talking about the food and wine, not the sandbars. Here’s some of the go to haunts enjoyed by the crew in France.
1. L’Etiquette – Glorious wine bar in Hossegor. Super reasonable prices. Go for an afternoon splash, leave at three in the morning with purple teeth.
2. The Heads Beach Brewing Company – If you’re a beer drinker, this spot in Seignosse is your go to. Get a glow on and then mash one of their cheeseburgers into your face.
3. Chez Munis – Cool little spot in Cabreton famous for moules and frites (mussels and fries).
4. The Louvine – Japanese style seafood spot in Seignosse owned by Aussie Phil. Sweet little garden setting to hang post surf.
5. Cafe de Paris – Since pro surfing arrived in Hossegor this has been the spot. Get a tall giraffe of beer and settle in for a long afternoon of people watching.
1. Sushi Fish – Peniche is a big fishing town so the seafood is next level. Hit this little sushi gem in Baleal and seek out chef Marcos. Let him order for you. He always delivers some experimental plates not on the menu.
2. Tusca De Joel – Like eating at grandma’s house… if your Granny was Portuguese and cooked amazing seafood and aged meat. Settle in for a five hour degustation and drown yourself in red wine.
3. Cantina de Ferrel – Cosy little Italian spot with limited seats. Never disappoints. Double your body weight in one sitting.
4. The Surfers Lodge – With secluded beaches down the dirt track behind the restaurant/bar/hotel, this is the ultimate post surf stop. Burgers are solid and the beer is cold.
5. Restaurante A Sardinha – Peniche is famous for its sardines and you can’t visit the place without ripping in. This place serves ’em up better than most. Off the main street, it’s a sweet little old town experience.
Thrilling title race made even more interesting by Carissa Moore’s European domination. Taking the lioness’ share of points, Carissa intensified things at the top. Sally Fitzgibbons is still the frontrunner, but Tyler Wright showed true grit with a busted knee to stay on pace. Maui is gonna be some kind of showdown. It starts November 25th. Forecast: severe disappointment and total elation. Can’t wait.
He’s a machine. Sent from the future like the Terminator. A cybernetic organism, living tissue over metal endoskeleton. He always brings the performance, attitude and drama. In the modern era of pro surfing only Fanning has left Europe with victories in France and Portugal. That was in 2009 and he went on to chase his buddy Parko down and win the title that year at the Pipe Masters. If you were leading the title race, the last person you’d want in second place hunting you down is Medina.
He’s been the best surfer on the tour this year by a mile. Like Filipe Toledo, he’s worked out how to perform full throttle with the jersey on. His surfing in West Oz was the highlight. How did he not get a 10 at Margs? He was the best in France too, just got pipped in the semis. He’s been knocked in the semis a lot. He’s only had one final this year, Medina’s had three now for two wins. John’s consistency keeps him on top though. He needs to make the final to secure this second world title and it feels like he might need to do that to lock it down. If he gets knocked in the quarters or semis Medina needs to win Pipe to snatch the crown… and it feels like he might just do that.
There’s four surfers left in contention but it feels like a John John or Medina title year heading into the final stop at Pipe kicking off December 8th. Oh, and here’s the new trigger words for drinking game participants during the Pipe Masters: “showdown”, “re-qualification”, “two-time World Champion” and “takes off under it.” Drink lots of water and enjoy the show. More random memories from the European leg of the tour courtesy of Brandon Guilmette: