Lowers is coming! Lowers is coming!
The Hurley Pro is one of the most anticipated events of the ASP World Tour. Lower Trestles, located in San Diego County, California, where the top 34 surfers in the world will do battle from September 16-22, is considered almost unanimously to be the most high-performance wave in the world. It's a wave that's propelled careers, allowed for the progression of the sport, and most importantly, provided a flawless, A-frame canvas for some of surfing’s most memorable moments.
Breaking over a cobblestone point, Lowers epitomizes the perfect A-frame. With a shorter, punchier left that runs up the beach, it can be a goofy-footer's delight. On the right side, the wave is generally longer, more tapered and, as a result, more open to interpretation.
While somebody will periodically backdoor a tube section, Lowers doesn't really have a barrel to it. In fact, it's the wave's crumbly lip line that allows the world's best to tee off with their trademark turns and airs. The wave generally likes a medium tide with a nice, long-interval south swell. Judging by the forecast that's just what's on tap.
Surfline.com reports: "If the storm we're watching performs like the charts indicate, solid head-high surf will show Tuesday afternoon through Friday morning at Lower Trestles, with larger sets running a foot+ overhead and possibly a bit bigger on Wednesday and Thursday. We’ll also have a secondary, much smaller, SW swell showing at roughly the same time that will help a bit with overall consistency."
Style, speed and flow. Those are the three things to keep in mind. The key to obtaining an excellent score at Lowers is the first turn. The judges want to see competitors choose the best waves of the set and put it all on the line straight from the takeoff. Whether it's a big wrap, snap or tail-blow, after the first turn's done it's all about linkage.
The right at Lowers has multiple sections that allow for a variety of point-scoring alternatives, from ramps to launch airs to open-face cutbacks and vertical snaps, and the judges want to see variety. They don't want to see the same turn six times in a row, they want that blow-tail, wrap, floater, air reverse combo. Competitors have to dig deep into their bag of tricks to go far.
When it comes to Lowers, nobody has been more dominant than Kelly Slater; he's also hungry for a record 12th world title. Lowers is where he famously kicked off his career with his "it's the morning of the final" performance in Quiksilver's Black and White back in 1991.
Twenty-plus years later, the man is still the defending champion. In fact, he's won the event five times since 2005, and is going for a three-peat as he goes into it this year. He also has a little fire in his belly as he's sitting fourth in the world tour ratings right now. A win at Lowers gets him back on track for the second half of the year, and potentially sets him up for more history book stuff.
Leading the hunt for the 2012 title is Mick Fanning, who's fresh off of a brilliant come-from-behind victory at Teahupoo last month. "My boards are feeling good, I'm feeling good, [and] I always love coming to this place," says Fanning. "It's just got good vibes, and I usually stay with Taylor [Knox], so it's comfortable and familiar. And everybody just surfs like mad. It's going to be fun."
"I had that little downtime earlier this summer with my ankle and all, so I'm psyching to get back into it, go up against the big boys, and see how it goes." -- Evan Geiselman
After being sidelined with a severely sprained ankle and foot more than two months ago, Kolohe Andino will make his return to the world tour stage. A hometown hero and rookie on tour, he's looking to capitalize on his local knowledge and years in the water at Lowers to post a big result.
"I've been rehabbing like crazy," says Andino. "Been really working through a lot of different programs, and it's definitely coming around." Needing a result, a lot of eyes will be on the 18-year-old as he tries to start building a little momentum before the tour heads to Europe for a pair of contests in France and Portugal.
Getting through the trials earlier this summer, the two wildcard spots go to Evan Geiselman, who like Andino is coming off of an ankle injury, and Conner Coffin, the Santa Barbara stylist. Both have a full repertoire of new-school, progressive maneuvers at their disposal, which fit the criteria perfectly.
"I'm looking forward to it," says Geiselman. "I had that little downtime earlier this summer with my ankle and all, so I'm psyching to get back into it, go up against the big boys, and see how it goes. The ankle feels fine, the forecast looks good. I'm excited about it.”
Round 1 Match-ups
Heat 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Brett Simpson (USA), Jadson Andre (BRA)
Heat 2: Taj Burrow (AUS), Alejo Muniz (BRA), Patrick Gudauskas (USA)
Heat 3: Kelly Slater (USA), Tiago Pires (PRT), Taylor Knox (USA)
Heat 4: John John Florence (HAW), Kai Otton (AUS), Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 5: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Bede Durbidge (AUS), Evan Geiselman (USA)
Heat 6: Mick Fanning (AUS), Fredrick Patacchia (HAW), Conner Coffin (USA)
Heat 7: Owen Wright (AUS), Miguel Pupo (BRA), Yadin Nicol (AUS)
Heat 8: Josh Kerr (AUS), Damien Hobgood (USA), Matt Wilkinson (AUS)
Heat 9: Jeremy Flores (FRA), Michel Bourez (PYF), Kolohe Andino (USA)
Heat 10: Julian Wilson (AUS), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 11: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Heitor Alves (BRA), Travis Logie (ZAF)
Heat 12: C.J. Hobgood (USA), Gabriel Medina (BRA), Kieren Perrow (AUS)
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