The Hurley Pro at Trestles, Stop No. 8 of 11 on the World Surf League (WSL) Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour (CT), witnessed a relay of huge upsets as top seeds failed to escape elimination Round 3 in four-to-six foot (1-2 metre) waves at Lower Trestles. The day also ran through Round 4, seeing four competitors claim their place in the coveted Quarterfinal draw.
Event wildcard Brett Simpson (USA) sent shockwaves of astonishment through the beach after eliminating current Jeep front-runner John John Florence (HAW). Simpson, who previously dispatched World No. 2 Matt Wilkinson (AUS) in Round 2, unleashed the same determination and passion to continue his run of upsets at the event. The former CT competitor attacked his second wave and finished with a critical air-reverse to secure an excellent 8.33, putting Florence on the ropes after finding a solid 6.83 back-up score. Florence unleashed a massive layback hack, but his 8.74 combined score was not enough to take over Simpson’s 15.16. Florence will walk away from the event with an Equal 13th place finish, only his third result out of Top 5 this season.
“Every time you surf against John [Florence] and those top guys all you’re thinking is ‘I hope I don’t get blown out of the water because they’re so capable’,” Simpson said. “Even after I got that 8.33 I was so jittery. I was just thinking ‘I have to get another wave and back this thing up.’ It’s happened to me many times where I get a good score and wait too long and you just feel the pressure. I’m obviously happy, I could’ve used that while I was on Tour but the pressure’s off. I’m able to relax and just do my own thing.”
The drama continued as event wildcard Tanner Gudauskas (USA) took down World No. 3 Gabriel Medina (BRA) in an incredibly close head-to-head battle. Round 3 Heat 7 saw local favorite Gudauskas post four excellent 8-point rides to gain control of the heat. Under pressure and with five minutes left on the clock, Medina needed an 8.34 to counter the wildcard. The 2014 WSL Champion scored an 8.30, just missing the mark, before Gudauskas earned one last 8.67 at the buzzer to continue his dream run into Round 4, while Medina earned an Equal 13th.
“That was a heat I wanted so badly and to have it go down that way is so special,” said Gudauskas. “Gabriel [Medina] is an amazing competitor and in the beginning of that heat he started out on fire. Double 8-point rides for both of us is so rad and he just came up short on that last one. I had to sit and watch that one from the sidelines and thought he may have gotten it. I was just so stoked to win and that was my first time making it past a Round 3 heat on the WCT. For it to be here in front of the home crowd is just amazing, I could hear the crowd’s support from the beach and it’s just such a special moment.”
Gudauskas was relentless once more in Round 4 and earned a spot directly into the Quarterfinals over Australians Joel Parkinson (AUS) and Stuart Kennedy (AUS).
Filipe Toledo (BRA) showcased incredible surfing today, posting a near-perfect 18.97 combined score to defeat local favorite Kolohe Andino (USA) and event wildcard Brett Simpson (USA) in non-elimination Round 4 Heat 2. Toledo powered through multiple sections to land innovative maneuvers, advancing to the Quarterfinals. Previously, Toledo eliminated compatriot Caio Ibelli (BRA) in Round 3 Heat 10 with an impressive 18.10 heat score.
Lower-seeds continued the trend of upsets as Stuart Kennedy (AUS) thwarted defending champion Mick Fanning’s (AUS) ambitions of repeat victories at Trestles. The replacement surfer opened with a near-perfect 9.10, while Fanning — the three-time WSL Champion — responded with an excellent 8.77. Both surfers were left chasing back-up scores and it was Kennedy who got the edge by 2.43 points.
“That was scary just having a 6.20 as a backup, but I kind of got lucky with the priority situation,” Kennedy said. “Mick [Fanning] fell off one, but it was cool to get that exchange at the start and beat him on that. I haven’t had a 9 since Snapper so it feels really good to get back on the board with one. My wife’s about to have a baby so my mind’s also on that and I’m just nervous about becoming a dad as I am this. That’s kind of taking away from the stress of earning points and focusing on the birth of my baby girl.”
Jordy Smith (ZAF) dominated the opening heat of Round 4 against 11-time WSL Champion Kelly Slater (USA) and Michel Bourez (PYF) with a near-perfect 18.50 heat score. Smith locked in an outstanding 9.00 against his competitors and followed up with an exemplary 9.50 using his technically sound maneuvers. Bourez and Slater tried to challenge, but after Smith’s final ride of a 9.50, found themselves in a combination situation. Slater and Bourez will surf again in elimination Round 5.
“This morning’s heat wasn’t my best, and I narrowly scraped through,” Smith said. “My first wave was a good one but I kept turning a little too hard and went out the back so I’m super lucky that one went my way. I had to play some strategic moves at the end, but was good to get the job done.Going into that heat with Michel [Bourez], obviously one of the most powerful surfers in the world, as well as Kelly [Slater] — I just want to do my best surfing in those heat and Round 4 allows you to be a lot more free.”
Despite his lackluster Round 4, earlier in the day Slater put on a show for the Trestles crowd in Round 3 Heat 3 with his win against 2016 WSL Rookie Jack Freestone (AUS).Slater landed incredible aerial maneuvers to earn two excellent 8.00 rides for a 16.27 combined score.
“I actually felt a little sick this morning, but I kept sticking to my board so I’ll take it,” Slater said. “I started surfing here when I was 12-years-old and it was the first point break I’ve ever surfed. I just fell in love with the wave. It’s always been one of my favorites. If I’m in a certain position in a heat, I just think back to a circumstance I’ve been in before and try to imagine what the other guy is going to do.”
The upsets continued all the way into the final heat of Round 3 as rookie Alex Ribeiro (BRA) took down Adrian Buchan (AUS), who sat in fourth on the rankings going into the event. Buchan will walk away with a 13th place finish. Ribeiro continued his crusade into Round 4, where he battled Kerr and Jadson Andre (BRA) to achieve yet another big win and earned his first Quarterfinal appearance in 2016.
With the elimination of rookie Kanoa Igarashi (USA) by Kerr in Round 3 Heat 11, Ribeiro is the only rookie left in the draw.
“I kept my focus and just believed in my surfing,” Ribeiro said. “I left everything in the water and so stoked to make that heat since Ace Buchan is easily one of the best goofy-footers in the world — I’m so happy right now. It’s amazing to be into the Quarterfinals and this is everything I’ve been working toward, so I’m really excited. The wave here looks like my home spot; I felt comfortable and will put a lot of hard work into the next few heats and into the next events as well.”
Event will NOT run this morning. Event organizers will reconvene Tomorrow]]>