“I should be at Lowers, I should be at Lowers, I should be at Lowers,” I keep telling myself. But no matter how many times I say it, the clock on the wall of my two-hour Communications lecture just seems to tick even slower.
Suck it up. It’s just not going to happen.
Sitting in the back of the hall I deviously have my laptop open with a split-screen between the Hurley Pro and my pathetic page of notes. (Doesn’t Oprah say multi-tasking is good for the brain? Oprah knows everything.)
This is how most of my week has gone, eyes split between research papers, Spanish flash cards, reading, and yard work; all while keeping one eye on Lowers’ fluffy peaks as they are torn apart by the sport’s finest.
And what a treat it has been. Each time the world’s finest gather at Southern California’s aquatic skate park, the level of progressive surfing takes a good step forward. Not only that, but Lowers has always been a tell tale sign for how the back half of the Tour year will go. With the race for this year’s Title so wide open, everyone was on their A-game.
Even the guys who went out in the early rounds didn’t go easily. Kolohe lost out to Heitor Alves in round 2 by only .17, and Damien Hobgood lost to Adam Melling by the same margin in the next heat.
Results like this were abound throughout the event. Tiago Pires V. Kai Otton, Gabriel Medina V. Michel Bourez (which was a jaw-dropping display of next level surfing), Jeremy Flores V. Kelly Slater, Julian Wilson V. Mick Fanning, Joel Parkinson V. Jordy Smith, just to name a few.
As we have come to expect, this year’s rookies put on an epic display of aerial surfing. Though Kolohe went out early, it wasn’t without a fight, throwing air-reverses that the commentators talked about for the rest of the contest. Then Gabriel Medina, “The Wonder Kid” riding Lowers lefts like Shaun White rides the Super Pipe at the Olympics, making his opponent’s normally impressive power carves look silly until coming up short against fellow countryman Adriano de Souza in Round 5. But making it all the way to the Quarter Finals was everybody’s favorite Hawaiian with two names (and World Tour #3), John John Florence putting up a valiant effort against Adriano de Souza, only to be outdone in the final seconds.
Honorable mention should go to U.S. Open Junior Men’s Champ, Conner Coffin, for showing that the younger generation hasn’t lost sight of power surfing at all and tearing apart the long right walls at Trestles. Like Occy said about Andy, “he surfed like a cat on acid!” Just sayin’.
The rest of the Tour’s Top Four, Mick, Joel and Kelly (respectively) made it to the Semis with Kelly putting World Tour Number One Mick Fanning in such a bad combo that he paddled in two minutes before the heat ended.
Parko and Adriano was a similar affair, with the Aussie combo-ing the Brazilian while eleven minutes still remained on the clock and not many waves on tap. With three minutes left, Parko lazily surfed a mush-burger in and left Adriano out the back to fight for his spot in sub-par waves. Didn’t happen.
So we had a repeat of the 2004 Boost Mobile Pro final Slater V. Parkinson. That time Parko came out on top, but it should be noted in his previous four appearances in finals he came in second place, leaving him hungry for a result. Not to mention the fact heading into the final Joel, owned the two top single-wave scores of the event.
But with Kelly pushing for a three-peat at Lowers and a fiftieth World Tour victory out of his 72 final appearances, the stage was set for an epic final.
Slater opened the Final with 6.77 on the left without taking to the air and following it up with a 7.33 right-hander while Joel had priority and hadn’t scored more than a 1.07.
Joel eventually managed a 5.33 but Kelly snapped back with two more excellent rides (including another 7.33) while Parko maintained priority. Finally Parko struck back using his priority on a sizeable set wave to get an 8.33, putting him back in contention. But shortly there after Kelly sealed his 50th World Tour victory with a glassy Lowers right.
“It’s cool to win the 50th (contest) here cause I won my first pro contest here years ago.” Kelly summed it up.