Hometown hero and event wildcard Tanner Gudauskas (USA) put on a clinic at Lower Trestles to cause a big upset in Round 1 against Matt Wilkinson (AUS), No. 2 on the Jeep Rankings, and 2016 WSL Rookie Conner Coffin (USA). Gudauskas dropped two solid 6-point rides, while Wilkinson and Coffin put points on the board to challenge. The wildcard waited out the back, and his local knowledge paid off as he dropped the first Perfect 10 of the event with a powerful combination of maneuvers throughout the wave. With ten minutes left on the clock, Wilkinson and Coffin were both in a combination situation and could not find two new scores to combat Gudauskas.
“That was a really fun ride and I almost went on the one two waves before thinking it looked pretty good but just didn’t look smooth,” Gudauskas said. “I was thinking that when I get a wave I hope I can stay on my surfboard. I’ve never felt this fired up and focused, and I want to prove that I deserve to be here. I’m feeling really good so I’m looking forward to it. I’m also really grateful to be representing the San Clemente boys and excited to get another heat out there.”
Current World No. 1 on the Jeep Rankings John John Florence (HAW) charged through Round 1 to defeat event wildcard Brett Simpson (USA) and 2016 WSL Rookie Davey Cathels (AUS) in Heat 6. The frontrunner took the lead with a 6.67 on his opening ride and sealed the win with a strong 7.50. Simpson and Cathels could not find the excellent-range scores needed to take the win from Florence and will surf again in elimination Round 2.
“It feels great to come in here at No. 1, but I’m just surfing it like any other heat really and it’s just so cool to be at Lowers with no one out after the last few days have been packed,” Florence said. “My knee feels great and I’m at one-hundred percent. I came straight from Tahiti to here and started physical therapy right away which I think helped out a lot. I’m just so stoked to be surfing right now. I’ve never had a knee injury before so I wasn’t sure how bad it was so I’m pretty fortunate it wasn’t bad at all.”
11-time WSL Champion Kelly Slater (USA), Filipe Toledo (BRA) and Jeremy Flores (FRA) battled wave for wave in an intense Round 1 match-up. The heat witnessed suspenseful exchanges between the three competitors with massive laybacks from Slater, technical railwork from Toledo, and powerful snaps from Flores. In the dying minutes of the heat, Toledo topped the field with his strong rail carves to earn a critical 9.33 and steal the win. Slater, with a 16.20, will surf again in Round 2 alongside Flores.
“The rights are swinging pretty wide and going really fast so it was good for the power carve and to work the rail game,” said Toledo. “I just stuck with that plan and it all worked out in the last few minutes. Kelly [Slater] has been the best surfer in the world since I was born and after watching him in Tahiti was just incredible. I know that victory felt really good for him and he’s had a lot of good results here with some wins in the past, so it’s great for my confidence to know I can beat the best surfer in the world.”
After Toledo’s impressive performance, Joel Parkinson (AUS) raised the bar to claim the highest combined score of the day, a near-perfect 18.67 in Round 2 Heat 10. The 2012 WSL Champion will advance to Round 3, while three-time WSL Champion and defending event winner, Mick Fanning (AUS), and Jadson Andre (BRA) will be relegated to Round 2.
2014 event winner Jordy Smith (ZAF) kicked off Men’s Round 1 with an electric performance. The South African power-surfer posted a 9.00 following a slight falter on his opening wave choice. But, he wasted no time solidifying his spot into Round 3 with his signature power surfing, defeating Nat Young (USA) and Keanu Asing (HAW).
“I definitely worked my ass off on that first one and kind of grinded it out with the tide coming up,” Smith said. “The wave was a little flatter and more difficult to get that open face without running down the line, but just got one in the bank and then waited for priority. When I got that I just wanted to wait for a good one. I found that peakier wave and it walled up so nicely throughout the bank and just got a good opportunity I was able to capitalize on.”
2016 WSL Rookies Kanoa Igarashi (USA) and Jack Freestone (AUS) wreaked havoc in Round 1, taking down top seeds to claim their place in Round 3, where both surfers will continue to improve their Rookie of the Year campaign.
Igarashi pulled off a buzzer-beater win over Julian Wilson (AUS) and Ryan Callinan (AUS) -- earning a 7.00 with his back against the wall. The 18-year-old has established himself among the world’s elite with terrific performances throughout the year and avoided yet another Round 2 appearance.
“I wasn’t trying to be too patient but Mother Nature kind of made me play the waiting game and wound up having a five-minute heat,” Igarashi said. “Glad it worked out for me and really stoked to be moving into Round 3. It’s crazy how things change over time. I remember two years ago like it was yesterday and sleeping on the couch at the Quiksilver house just trying to watch guys like Travis [Logie], Freddy [Pattachia], and Kelly [Slater], all those guys were always around me. I was just so star struck with how cool it was to be on tour. It’s just crazy how two years later I’m here.”
Heat 9 saw Freestone defeat fellow rookie Caio Ibelli (BRA) and Italo Ferreira (BRA) with a 15.50 combined heat score. The Brazilians were not able to secure the scores to overcome the Australian and will surf again in Round 2.
But, fellow countryman Gabriel Medina (BRA) survived a near disaster earlier on in Round 1 Heat 4 as a no-priority interference was called against him on his opening exchange. Despite the penalty, Medina fought back with a solid 7.33 and unleashed high-risk maneuvers to secure an excellent 8.00. Adam Melling (AUS) held the lead with a 10.93, but could not find the 5.75 required to challenge the 2014 WSL Champion. Rookie Alex Ribeiro (BRA) was not able to hold on against the CT chargers as both he and Melling will surf again in elimination Round 2. Medina currently sits in third place on the Jeep Leaderboard and will continue his hunt for an event win in Round 3.
Adrian Buchan (AUS), Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) and Stuart Kennedy (AUS) will also advance straight to Round 3 after winning their Round 1 three-man match-ups.
Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow at 7:30 a.m. local time for a possible 8:00 a.m. start.
Highlights from the Swatch Women’s Pro and Hurley Pro available at WorldSurfLeague.com
High Res Images from this event available for editorial use via Reuters
Hurley Pro at Trestles Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 14.50, Nat Young (USA) 10.23, Keanu Asing (HAW) 8.67
Heat 2: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 14.67, Julian Wilson (AUS) 13.04, Ryan Callinan (AUS) 12.00
Heat 3: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 15.10, Miguel Pupo (BRA) 14.77, Kai Otton (AUS) 13.80
Heat 4: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 11.67, Adam Melling (AUS) 10.93, Alex Ribeiro (BRA) 9.80
Heat 5: Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 16.67, Conner Coffin (USA) 11.66, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 10.10
Heat 6: John John Florence (HAW) 14.67, Brett Simpson (USA) 9.43, Davey Cathels (AUS) 8.60
Heat 7: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 15.47, Matt Banting (AUS) 10.90, Adriano De Souza (BRA) 9.70
Heat 8: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 17.50, Kelly Slater (USA) 16.20, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 11.87
Heat 9: Jack Freestone (AUS) 15.50, Caio Ibelli (BRA) 13.23, Italo Ferreira (BRA) 11.20
Heat 10: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 18.67, Mick Fanning (AUS) 13.96, Jadson Andre (BRA) 13.93
Heat 11: Kolohe Andino (USA), Josh Kerr (AUS), Stu Kennedy (AUS)
Hurley Pro at Trestles Upcoming Round 1 Match-Ups:
Heat 12: Sebastian Zietz (HAW), Michel Bourez (PYF), Alejo Muniz (BRA)
All images WSL