Lower Trestles, the jewel of Southern California surf venues, delivered clean two-to-three foot (1 metre) waves as 17 heats of the Oakley Lowers Pro Round 1 were completed amid scintillating performances and passionate competition.
The first World Surf League (WSL) QS10000 event of the season, the Oakley Lowers Pro serves as the battlefield between the elite Championship Tour (CT) surfers looking to retain their positions at surfing's highest level and a hungry force of up-and-coming talent hoping to break in.
Filipe Toledo (BRA), current No. 2 on the elite CT rankings, continued this season's electric form this morning, dominating the opening heat of the event with the day's high single scoring wave of a 9.87 out of a possible 10 for a blistering series of forehand assaults on the Lowers righthander.
"The wave is a skatepark," Toledo said. "It has good speed and good sections that you can just hammer away at. It's pretty much the funnest wave on the planet for performance surfing."
Following a win at the opening CT event of the season, the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast, Toledo consolidated with a Quarterfinals finish at Bells Beach before an early exit at Margaret River. The Oakley Lowers Pro marks the first Qualifying Series (QS) event of Toledo's season and the young Brazilian's incendiary performances mark him as an event favorite.
"I'm living my dream," Toledo continued. "I'm having a really good year. I have great support in my family and sponsors and really good boards. Excited to see what else this week has for us at Lowers before heading down to Rio."
Adrian Buchan (AUS), a 10-year veteran of the elite WSL CT, has had a rough start to the start of the 2015 elite season currently ranked 29th. However, the world-class goofyfooter put his polished forehand and backhand to work today, smashing the Lowers left and righthanders to collect an impressive heat total of a 17.80 out of a possible 20.
"It's exciting to be back at Lowers and have the opportunity to surf," Buchan said. "I had a bunch of close heats throughout the Oz leg that didn't go my way and I wanted to come to Trestles and reset and give myself a chance to surf to the level that I know I'm capable of."
Conner Coffin (USA), celebrated stylemaster from Santa Barbara, has been knocking at the door of qualifying for the elite level of competition in recent seasons and if his impressive Round 1 performance of a 17.90 this morning is any indication, the young natural-footer will be joining the world's best in the near future.
"It feels great to put a strong heat together," Coffin said. "I feel like I've been surfing well the past couple of years, I have great boards and awesome support, but everyone in these competitions is super talented and very hungry. I feel comfortable at Lowers."
Kolohe Andino (USA), local icon and CT competitor, capped off the day's action with a fantastic display of local knowledge and high-performance surfing, netting an excellent 9.00 out of a possible 10 on his opening ride and controlling the heat pace from the outset.
"Any chance to surf Lowers in a contest with just a few guys feels special," Andino said. "I've been competing here my whole life and I want to bring home a win to San Clemente."
Tune in again Thursday, April 30, at 8:00 for the next call and more action at http://live.oakley.com/lowerspro/live/.