Hurley Pro Final Day

20 09 2009
Fanning and Reynolds Celebrate while Machado Drifts in the Background

Mick and Dane celebrate while Machado drifts in the background

Wake me when it’s over.

It was the afternoon of the last day of the Hurley Pro, and halfway through the quarterfinals it was as exciting as watching Tiger Woods sink a five-foot putt at a miniature golf course.

The main problem was the uncharacteristic lack of swell for a break that usually pumps in September. The other problems were the short waiting period (due to state park restrictions) and a bad call by the event organizers—choosing not to run at least some of the event mid-week, instead of hoping and praying for a swell that in typical Southern California fashion didn’t show up on time.

Twenty minutes into the quarterfinal heat between Kelly Slater and Heitor Alves announcer Dave Stanfield said, “It sure is great when there’s waves.” The unintentional comedy factor of the typical ASP announcer’s everything-is-rosy outlook is off the charts. Terrorists could have detonated a bomb killing ninety percent of the crowd, and Stanfield would probably said something like “at least Kelly Slater survived and good news folks…looks like there’s a set on the horizon.”

Meanwhile, the ocean sat bloated and weary like an overweight dog sprawled out on the kitchen floor on a scorching summer day. Every 15 minutes or so the Pacific Ocean drooled, offering up a set wave or two, and an occasional leg to hump. Earlier in the week I saw Slater pumping gas at the San Clemente Chevron and it was a more thrilling spectacle than his semifinal heat against Mick Fanning.

Adriano de Souza sits at third place in the ratings and may finish higher than any other Brazilian in ASP history, but for my money Heitor Alves is the best Brazilian surfer on tour. He’s also clearly the most underrated surfer on tour. But Slater sent the Brazo home early in yet another wave-starved heat.

Dane Reyolds whips his tail around at Trestles

The Future is now. Dane Reynolds whips his tail around.

Taylor Knox versus Dane Reynolds was the heat of the day and also featured the day’s best exchange. Knox dropped in on a head-high where-the-fuck-did-that-come-from right and just destroyed it, getting an 8.0. Then Dane picked off the very next wave (9.7) and made Knox’s eight look ordinary in comparison. He buried the rail of his 5’7 Merrick and out-Knoxed Knox in the process.

Before the semifinals the VIP area was buzzing in free beer and mental masturbatory hopes of a Dane versus Kelly final. Meanwhile, former world champion Mick Fanning was quietly winning heats after miserable heat, one Ambien off the lip at a time. During Mick and Slater’s semi Dane was battling exhaustion and dehydration. The medical staff on site gave him an IV, while the Hurley staff provided the VIPs with Bud Light to keep them entertained and hydrated. No needles required. Slater’s come-from-behind 10th world title aspirations may have ended at Trestles, unless he wins two of the three events of the European leg (which is in the realm of possibilities). So in reality, the race is now a threesome between Joel Parkinson, Fanning and Slater. With Slater as the third wheel who holds the video camera, watching mostly, waiting for the perfect moment to join the fun.

At the halfway point of the WCT season, Dane Reynolds was sitting in a regulation spot, at 34th in the ratings. After his equal third in near-perfect conditions at JBay, he jumped to 20th. Now, after and second at Trestles, he sits comfortably in 11th place. Any person who is not brain dead and/or tipping back  Tooheys at an Aussie pub would admit Dane is a better surfer right now than Fanning.

Last year, every story I read about Dane Reynolds mentioned Jordy Smith as if they were Siamese twins sipping juice boxes, rolling around a cul-de-sac in a two-seat baby stroller. At Trestles, Dane not only separated himself from Jordy, but from the rest of the ASP pack as well. He’s the present and future of competitive surfing and everyone knows it. When Julian Wilson arrives, the surfing world may just implode, scattering swatches of Diamond Dobby boardshorts in the process.

Slater may have said it best shortly after the final while Fanning was popping the champagne. “I thought Dane was the surfer of the contest. I don’t even think Mick would argue with that.”

With a shot of honesty and a humble dose of reality, the circus heads for Europe and a three-event run before the climax at Pipe.

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Hurley Trestles Pro Round 2

15 09 2009
Dane Reynolds punts at Lowers. Rowland/ASP

Dane Reynolds punts to a win at Lowers. Rowland/ASP

Competitive surfing is an awkward yet beautiful ritual. Sometimes, when the moon and stars are perfectly aligned, it is a magical. Yin and yang form a perfect circle of congruence. Think Joel Parkinson and Dane Reynolds at Jeffrey’s Bay two months ago. But more often than not, it resembles a teenage virgin attempting to have sex for the first time. Palms are clammy.  Runaway beads of perspiration glide down foreheads, falling to the floor. Nervousness and confusion.  Legs are spread and kicking wildly. The anticipation is often better than the end result.

Round two of the Hurley Pro, or as I affectionately call Cash for Clunkers, undoubtedly felt like virgin sex. Sure the build up was exciting, but the parents (or worse, ESPN) may walk in at any time and ruin the moment.

There are several ways to spend a Monday afternoon that are less painful than watching round two of a WCT in crappy surf. For instance; a colon exam or catching up on Sunny Garcia’s Twitter updates.

Taj Burrow was the highest seed to lose and first to go home. For those of you who felt Taj got robbed by the judges, go back and watch the heat on demand. Machado surfed better. Simple as that. In fact, he was underscored on a few early waves. It shouldn’t have been as close as it was. If I didn’t know any better I would think he looked inspired. But Rob is seemingly carefree. At times, that is a recipe for success on the WCT.

For Jordy Smith it was over before he could put on a condom or contest jersey. He went down in a squeaker to Portuguese rookie Tiago Pires 13.5 to 13.24. In less than ideal conditions, determination often trumps talent.

Round three continues Tuesday with several key matchups, namely Slater versus wildcard and de facto local Brett Simpson and Machado against Parkinson, or the Hair versus the heir to the throne. Starting with round four, Fuel.tv will be webcasting in true high definition. Fuel’s feed during the Huntington event was the best I’ve seen.–Nug