The 2012 Hurley Pro at Trestles kicked off competition today in two-to-four foot waves at the iconic high-performance venue of Lower Trestles, bearing witness to a sensational day of surfing as the ASP Top 34 completed the opening round of competition.
Stop No. 6 of 10 on the 2012 ASP World Championship Tour, the Hurley Pro at Trestles marks a proven crucial stop in season, with the event victor ultimately winning the ASP World Title the past four years.
Kelly Slater (USA), 40, reigning 11-time ASP World Champion and defending five-time Hurley Pro at Trestles winner, built momentum throughout his opening heat to advance directly to Round 3 over fellow veterans Tiago Pires (PRT), 32, and Taylor Knox (USA), 40. Admittedly, Slater has been spending less time in the water lately, but showed no signs of fatigue in his dominant Round 1 performance.
“I’ve got to be honest, I’m not surprised it was a slow one because I had Taylor Knox in my heat,” Slater said. “He’s had the most restarts ever at Trestles before for some reason. I wanted to win that first one because I haven’t been surfing that much lately. I surfed all day yesterday and I’m kind of tired today. The last few weeks I haven’t surfed a whole lot and I’m trying to figure out new boards.”
Current No. 4 on the ASP WCT rankings, Slater spent the day yesterday honing in new equipment, opting for a four-fin setup in Round 1 despite historically having little success on similar equipment at Trestles in the past.
“I’m looking for whatever everyone else is – just a fresh feeling and something that feels natural under your feet,” Slater said. “I love the four-fins, but generally they don’t work that well at Lowers for me. I don’t know why that is, they tend to work better in hollower waves for me, but I rode a quad yesterday and it felt good so I’m sticking with it.”
Mick Fanning (AUS), 31, two-time ASP World Champion and ASP WCT frontrunner, unloaded his renowned forehand attack on the long righthanders of Lower Trestles today to secure a Round 1 win. While the Australian has been in deadly form this season, the Gold Coast native admitted the battle for the No. 1 position is only just heating up.
“The race is really tight,” Fanning said. “With everyone counting a few good results and in a really good rhythm at the moment, Joel (Parkinson), Kelly (Slater), John John (Florence), Taj (Burrow), you’ve got to just keep trying and just keep plugging away.”
Fanning, a former Hurley Pro at Trestles winner (2009), admitted several surfers in this draw (ranging from veterans to rookies) will be tough to contend with at Lowers, but feels equally comfortable in the lineup himself.
“You’ve got to just look at track records and Kelly (Slater) is probably the gnarliest guy, he just knows the wave so well,” Fanning said. “Then there are guys like John John (Florence) and Kolohe (Andino) lives here and surfs amazing out here, so those are probably the main guys I look out for.”
Gabriel Medina (BRA), 18, into his first full year on tour, took out a hard-fought heat that saw a series of tight paddle battles against veteran C.J. Hobgood (USA), 33. Medina was trailing Hobgood in the final minute of the bout, but launched a massive backside air-reverse to earn an excellent 8-point ride and advance directly into Round 3.
“That was a hard heat,” Medina said. “I got a couple of waves, but it was kind of hard to find the good ones. I’m just stoked to make it because it was a hard heat against C.J. (Hobgood), he got a couple of rights and got two 8s. I knew I needed to go big and I got the last wave and decided to go for the air and I made it.”
Medina, who was one of only two goofy-footers to win today, was also victorious at April’s ASP Prime Nike Lowers Pro and is a strong favorite at Lower Trestles this week.
“Lowers is always like this with rights and lefts and it’s pretty perfect,” Medina said. “I prefer the left because it lets me do my airs on the first section and I can finish with another one and the rights, I can do 8 turns on the same wave, it’s just that kind of wave.”
Yadin Nicol (AUS), 27, 2012 ASP WCT rookie, opened his Round 1 affair in lethal form and unleashed a progressive repertoire, amassing the day’s highest scores including a 9.30 single wave and a 17.57 out of 20 heat total to solidify the victory.
“It’s the first time I’ve won a Round 1 heat this year so it feels good,” Nicol said. “The waves are really fun and I’m just stoked to finally get on an open face. I started off pretty shaky, I slipped on that very first wave. I had a section on that next wave and thought I’d do a little air and Owen (Wright) can get 8s and 9s in his sleep so on that last wave and I was just lucky to get it. This year hasn’t really been too kind to me and it was fun out there.”
Nicol, who missed the Hurley Pro at Trestles due to injury last season, was elated to be back in the high-performance lineup of Lower Trestles in his first appearance at the event as an official ASP Top 34 member.
“It feels good to be here,” Nicol said. “This is definitely one of the more fun stops on tour and it’s such a playful wave. I just have a lot of fun in Southern California in these kinds of waves and it just feels good to be in this contest for real.”
Dusty Payne (HAW), 24, took out his first heat victory of the year, following his return to competition after a severe knee injury sidelined him until Tahiti last month. The Maui talent was another ASP Top 34 member to showcase his variety on the walls of Lowers, combining effortless rotations, snaps and carves to move directly to Round 3 over veteran Kai Otton (AUS), 32, and current ASP World No. 3 John John Florence (HAW), 19.
“It always feels good winning that heat for some reason,” Payne said. “It’s a good way to start the event and I’m just happy to be back in the water and competing with everybody and having a good time. I went to Tahiti and I had only been surfing for a week and wasn’t surfing how I could. It feels good to just be back in the water.”
When competition resumes, up first will be Joel Parkinson (AUS), 31, against wildcard Conner Coffin (USA), 19, in the opening heat of Round 2.
Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow morning at 7:30am to assess conditions for a possible 8am start.
Surfline, official forecasters for the Hurley Pro at Trestles, are calling for:
The surf to temporarily fade tomorrow before a medium-size South swell comes through strongest Wednesday and into Thursday, with long-period forerunners beginning to build Tuesday afternoon. Smaller, fading surf will take over for the last couple days of the waiting period. Conditions Monday through Friday look generally favorable with light morning wind and light to moderate onshore flow in the afternoons.