The sun may rise on the Right Coast, but Lower Trestles is on the left side of the tracks, and this week that’s all that matters. The Hurley Pro starts tomorrow, and the forecast is looking good. In fact, it’s been downright pumping the entire holiday weekend.
Not pumping in the Teahupo’o death-pit sense of the word, of course. Pumping the way cobblestone points do – overhead and crumbly-steep and oh so infinitely rippable. And with 51 of the world’s best surfers in town (34 men and 17 women, not to mention wildcards), the best swell California has seen in months didn’t go to waste.
It’s never a good idea to make contest predictions based on freesurfs, but then again, it’s also not a good idea to sit on the beach and watch other people ride waves when there are empty barrels breaking 30 minutes north – so on a day full of bad ideas, I’m gonna go out on a limb here. If what we saw in today’s Lowers warm-up is any indication, then the next week should play out something like this:
Toledo still has to shake off the spectre of last month’s 0.00 before he can reenter the conversation.
Gabriel Medina will have a shocker. People say he’s been ripping all weekend, and a finals appearance in Tahiti seems to indicate that the world champ’s year is back on track. But based on what I saw today, I’m not so sure that’s the case. Gone are the days when a frontside air will win you a contest – no matter how dramatic and foamy the layback recovery or how high above the lip you manage to huck yourself. With solid swell on tap, this event is going to be all about combinations, and when it comes to the green and yellow – well, Miguel Pupo looked smoother, Jadson Andre surfed more aggressively, and Wiggolly Dantas chose better waves, while Medina looked a little bit…lost.
I’m sure South America will crucify me for this, but based on what I saw today, I don’t think a Brazilian can win this year. Unless it’s Felipe Toledo, of course – and I hate to predict something so obvious as that. Plus, despite moments of warm-up brilliance, Toledo still has to shake off the spectre of last month’s 0.00 before he can reenter the conversation.
Chew on this for a second: If Mick Fanning’s fourth world title campaign is derailed, it won’t be by a de Souza or a Toledo or a Slater – it will be by a shark. Mick, you will recall, recently did battle with a great white in South Africa. This summer, there are also great whites in Southern California. Huntington Beach was closed last week due to the presence of grey suits, and a mouthful of serrated teeth was spotted out at Trestles as recently as last night.
It’s never a good idea to make contest predictions based on freesurfs, but then again, it’s also not a good idea to sit on the beach and watch other people ride waves when there are empty barrels breaking 30 minutes north.Today, Mick paddled to shore a couple minutes after some sort of animal thrashed its way through the lineup, despite the fact that he was having a standout session. Coincidence? Maybe so, maybe not. If Jaws still looms large in Mick’s mind, no one is going to fault him for it. But in the closest title race since forever, having whitey on the brain isn’t going to help when it comes to winning heats.
Despite what will probably be another competitive disappointment, John John Florence will continue to cement his reputation as the unofficial best surfer in the world, putting in the most exciting single-wave performance of the event. He will then grow bored and go find a wave that actually barrels. I’m pretty sure that’s what happened this morning.
Kolohe Andino will mount his requalification campaign at Trestles. Rated a disappointing 31st coming into this event, Andino needs a result, and he’s about to get one. Today, Kolohe surfed like a man at home – which comes as no surprise, since he’s the closest thing Trestles has to a local. Don’t be surprised to see Brother ripping on finals day.
Speaking of locals, the most entertaining surfing in San Clemente this week might just happen between heats, and feature the Gudauskas clan.
Mick paddled to shore a couple minutes after some sort of animal thrashed its way through the lineup, despite the fact that he was having a standout session.The Brotherhood of Eternal Stoke took to the water this morning along with everyone else, reminding us that, yes, they belong on tour, and no, they aren’t there – and yes, this is our loss, because no, they don’t really seem to care.
Julian Wilson was hard to miss today, what with his colourful get-up and precise blend of power and progression. He’ll be even harder to miss next week, when he’s standing on the winner’s dais holding a trophy, an oversized check, and a yellow leader’s jersey. Enough said. Except…
…Well, except Nat Young. It’s been said that Nat has the most over-scored backhand on tour, but if the extended backside hack to tail tweak he throws with complete nonchalance is “overrated,” then I don’t know what good surfing is. Plus, as he demonstrated this morning, the guy can also go left. Hailing from the cold north, Nat is clearly enjoying So Cal’s uncharacteristically warm water (75 degrees!), and his performance today reflected that. If Julian Wilson loses this event, it will be because Nat wins it.
As I write this, the construction crew has finished putting up the scaffolding, the tractors are all going home, and the athletes have picked their way across the cobblestones to an afternoon of pre-event interviews. Tomorrow, the horn sounds and the fun begins.
"The contest opens with the remnants of a decent SW long range swell fading under a growing swell from Tropical Storm Linda," predicts magicseaweed forecaster Ben Freeston. "Whilst warm core systems can be hard to nail down precisely, we're expecting solid mid period swell from the south and in combination Thursday should peak in the 5-8ft range."
Things are about to get crazy on the wrong side of the tracks.
Keep an eye on the Trestles forecast here.