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

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The Unfiltered Trestles Preview

11 09 2009

Trestles

Much like real estate a surf contest has three steadfast rules—Location, location and location. In 2000 the ASP ditched crowd-friendly beach arenas of Huntington and Oceanside as World Chapionship Tour events and embraced Lower Trestles. Now, Trestles is the only location in the US that hosts a WCT event.

Walking down the trail to the San Clemente pointbreak is like entering a time machine. It’s one of the few parcels of undeveloped coastline in Southern California. Whenever I make the trek I’m reminded of the stories my dad and his friends used to tell me. There was no trail. They had to traverse swampy terrain and massive amount of brush to get to the break. On the way back they usually had to elude Marines with automatic weapons. Boards were often confiscated. It was an adventure. No so much today. Now we are spoiled. We  park, walk and enjoy unmolested.

The 2009 Hurley Pro Trestles marks a first for the Nike-owned surf brand. This year’s event will be its debut as the main title sponsor of a WCT event. Last year they shared the markee with Boost Mobile. That leaves Volcom as the only brand in the elite 5 (Volcom, Quiksilver, Rip Curl, Billabong and Hurley) who doesn’t sponsor a WCT event. Curious you might say. Volcom is either the savviest company in the boardroom, or the dumbest.

Last year, Bob Hurley upped the winner’s purse from $30,000 to $75,000 right before the final that was eventually won by Slater. According to the official ASP heat draw, the winner will get a meaty $105,000 later this week, making it the largest winner’s check in ASP history.

Unfortunately the waves may not cooperate during the Trestles waiting period (September 13th-19th). I read several previews of the event and all were hyping the swell. Each had a quote from Surfline’s Sean Collins, who interestingly enough, is one of the event sponsors. Smelling a conflict of interest, I decided to ask an independent source. According to Adam Wright, long-time surf forecaster and operator of Socalsurf.com, the surf probably won’t get much bigger than shoulder high.

“Overall the surf for the Trestles contest isn’t looking great,” Wright said. “It will be playful but never really firing. There will be a mix of swells in the water at the beginning of the waiting period, but at this point none of them look very big and the different swell angles, while playful at the beach breaks, may be a little too crossed up to set up the classic Lowers lines.

For the first few days we can expect a mix of shadowed NW swell (290-300) and some smaller, less consistent SW swell (200-220). Waves will be in the waist-chest high range but with a few chest-shoulder high sets sneaking in. Near the end of the contest the SW swell will shift a little more southerly (190-210) and strengthen as the NW swell drops out. Looks like we should see more consistent chest-shoulder high sets by the 18-19th as the new pulse of SW energy filters in.”

slatertrestles

–Six surfers with the best chance of winning

Kelly Slater
As far as I’m concerned there are only three certainties in life—death, taxes and Slater making the final at Trestles. He won the event in 2008, 2007 and 2005. Was second to Bede in 2006 and second to Parko in 2004. Couple that with the fact his girlfriend lives just up the road, providing a home-away-from-home atmosphere and we might as well just throw our arms in the air and declare him the winner already.

Adriano De Souza
With Pat O’Connell off the tour and in the contest director’s perch, the fate of surfing’s “little people” rests squarely on his shoulders. The Brazilian sits at third in the WCT rankings and has a home in San Clemente.  I like his chances, especially because there should be smaller surf and morning high-tide conditions bogging down early heats. If he doesn’t make the final, I expect no less than a quarterfinal berth.

Joel Parkinson
Rumors are circulating that he may not show. Is this Slater-esque gamesmanship or a clue he may not be 100 percent healthy. Nevertheless, skipping the event is a huge gamble for his world-title campaign. If he’s there he’ll get no less than a 3rd.

Dane Reynolds
Dane had an equal 3rd at JBay and a quarterfinals appearance last year at Trestles. He just may pull of his first-ever WCT win at Trestles. Who knows? Everyone thinks his upside is untapped—including me. What is Dane’s secret weapon? It’s a vibrating ab-belt to increase his core strength and a shitload of beer.

Jordy Smith
I saw a video recently of Jordy and Taj surfing a reef in Indo. On this day Jordy clearly surpassed Taj’s surfing, and that’s saying a lot since most consider Taj’s surfing some of the most progressive on tour. But he hasn’t gotten the competitive results to back his potential…yet. Something tells me he’s going to have a big result here.

Taj Burrow
Taj finished second last year. A lot of people actually think he won. If he can stay clear of the San Clemente pubs at night, expect him to do just as well. His surfing is perfectly suited for the skatepark sections.

–The longshots who may make noise

Dean Morrison
I like Dingo’s chances and his Hemmingway beard. He’s not exactly a longshot but I think he’s under the radar and not a popular pick per se. He should have some success with the long skateable walls at Lowers. Predicted finish–equal 5th.

Heitor Alves
The Brazilian goofyfoot will be on his backhand most of the time. If the lefts are working, expect him to pick off a few of those morsels and do damage. He’ll probably make the fourth round at the very least.

Brett Simpson
Hold the laughter. If his ankle has healed, he will do well. The waves most likely won’t get above shoulder high and Simpo may surprise, feed on the momentum gained at Huntington and pull off a few upsets. Unless he runs into Parko or Slater early. Then he might as well get on the 5 freeway and head north back to the aforementioned beachbreak.