Jordy Smith (ZAF) secured his fifth Championship Tour win today, and his second at Lower Trestles, following an exciting match-up against 2012 WSL Champion Joel Parkinson (AUS). Smith, the 2014 event winner, eliminated Filipe Toledo (BRA) in the Semifinals before matching up against Parkinson. The result, his best of the season, sees him move up one place to fourth on the Jeep Leaderboard and puts him firmly in the World Title race.
“I’ve had a really good surfboard under my feet this event,” Smith said. “I came into the event with an open mind. I missed it last year when the waves were firing so I just wanted to come in and take it heat-by-heat. I’ve watched Joel [Parkinson] throughout my career and he’s one of my favorite surfers. I’m frothing and I’m over the moon.”
Smith, who looked composed and aggressive, took down Parkinson in the men’s Final with his explosive forehand surfing. The two former event winners went head-to-head, but it was Smith who edged the win by just 0.44 points. The South African unleashed a series of power hacks to earn a solid lead over Parkinson and put him in a combination halfway through the heat. Parkinson countered with a 6.93 and a critical 8.43. Without priority and three minutes on the clock, the Australian needed a 7.27 to take the win, but was not able to land the requirement.
“If I can be in with a shot at the World Title this year then that will be great,” continued Smith. “Europe can go either way so I’m just going to try my hardest and see how it goes. I think my Round 4 match-up against Kelly [Slater] was the toughest, so facing him and Michel Bourez was always going to be difficult. Of course that Semifinal against Filipe was a big heat too.”
This event marks Parkinson’s best result of the year and his first Final appearance since the 2014 J-Bay Open where he also earned a runner-up finish. The 2004 Lowers Champion found his form once again, overcoming the in-form wildcard threat Tanner Gudauskas (USA) in a nail-biting Semifinal heat to earn a place against Smith. Parkinson now moves up eight places to sixth on the Jeep Leaderboard.
“I really fell in love with this wave and this town in 2004,” Parkinson said. “This year was another wonderful year at Trestles and I’m really happy to be back here and on the podium -- it feels really good. This event I was so motivated and really keen to notch a win up. The talent of surfing in this event is incredible and I have to give it to Jordy, he’s an amazing surfer and a top World Title contender.”
Event standout Filipe Toledo (BRA) battled eventual winner Smith in the opening Semifinal. The Brazilian landed a massive air-reverse for an excellent 8.33 and strengthened his lead with a solid 6.17 on his backhand. Smith fired back with a series of innovative fin-drifts to garner a commanding 8.00 to counter Toledo, but still needed a 6.51 to regain control of the heat. The South African showcased his power surfing to score a near-perfect 9.23 and put the pressure back on the Brazilian. Toledo was not able to find the required score and will walk away with a 3rd place finish, equalling his best result of the season. Toledo was previously 17th on the Jeep Leaderboard and will now move up to 11th.
“I had a few mistakes in that heat,” Toledo said. “The one wave where Jordy [Smith] went right and I went left, I should’ve stayed out back for priority. I would’ve gotten the second wave of the set where he got the 8. I think that one mistake was it for me, but I’m happy with third place. It’s always a good feeling to be in the Finals Day, but of course I’d be more happy to be in the Final. It’s good points for me since I’m sitting low on the rankings so it’s a nice jump. I’m happy and can’t wait to go to France.”
San Clemente local Tanner Gudauskas (USA) was eliminated by event runner-up Parkinson in the second Semifinal. Both surfers battled for the advantage, but it was Parkinson that took the lead with an 8.00. With priority, Gudauskas was left waiting out the back needing a 6.94. Set waves coming through gave the wildcard the opportunity to use his vertical backhand snaps to meet the requirement, but he just fell short with a 6.27. Gudauskas was able to battle back to the takeoff zone to regain priority and try again on another set wave, however his score came in just 0.10 points under the requirement with a 6.83. Gudauskas, who is currently ranked 31st on the WSL Qualifying Series, will leave the event in Equal 3rd place following one of the best performances as a wildcard.
“It was an amazing feeling progressing through each round over the big guys,” said Gudauskas. “That heat was so fun and I was just excited to see how I was going to handle that pressure. My whole mantra this entire event has just been either make the heat or go down swinging with everything you have and I feel like that was kind of a testiment to that. I’m stoked and good on Parko [Joel Parkinson] -- he’s literally one of my favorite surfers and to have that heat with him at Lowers was as good as it gets. This has just been a really refreshing feeling of competition for me.”
Men’s Hurley Pro Final Results:
1 - Jordy Smith (ZAF) 15.80
2 - Joel Parkinson (AUS) 15.36
Men’s Hurley Pro Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 17.23 def. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 14.50
SF 2: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 14.43 def. Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 14.33
2016 WSL Jeep Leaderboard Top 5 (After Hurley Pro)
1. John John Florence (HAW) 41,650
2. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 37,450
3. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 36,500
4. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 35,200
5. Kelly Slater (USA) 29,650