Few surfers on the Championship Tour are associated so closely with a single wave on Tour, in the way that Jordy Smith is with Lower Trestles. There's Mick Fanning and J-Bay, Kelly Slater and Cloudbreak, John John Florence and Pipeline, Stephanie Gilmore and Snapper Rocks, but not many others. The South African has won the Hurley Pro Trestles two out of the last three years, including a win over current World Champ John John Florence in the Final back in 2014 (a 9.33 ride socked it away).
It recent times, Lowers has become his adopted home break after putting down roots with his wife, Lyndall, in San Clemente. The couple splits time between south Orange County and Cape Town, South Africa. (You can witness Smith's exploits in and around Cape Town in his recent film, Just Now, here.
Finally free from injury, 2017 has been a revelation for Smith. Besides taking over the World No. 1 spot for the first time since 2011 and ringing the bell at Bells, Jordy joined the ultra-exclusive Perfect Heat Club in J-Bay -- alongside Kelly Slater, Owen Wright, Jeremy Flores, Joel Parkinson and Shane Beschen -- when he surfed a 20-point heat in Round Three against rookie Leonardo Fioravanti. Since his win at Bells, he's gone 5th, 13th, 5th, and 3rd in his last four events. Jordy currently holds a lead of just under 1000 points over No. 2 John John Florence.
At 6'3" and 190lbs (1.92m, 86kg), Trestles still provides a surprisingly abundant amount of speed for the big bru to pack a wallop. Along with good friend and local filmer, Steve "SK" Kennedy, Jordy pulls strategic strike missions down to Lowers to train for upcoming Tour stops, engaging in a plethora of punts and carves, stacking clips that eventually end up getting dropped as web edits.
For the most part, Lowers is surfed by top pros and locals at hyper speed, like a two-minute punk blitzkrieg by The Ramones, all bar chords and thrills. But Smith surfs the spot like an early Metallica tune, grinding down the line with momentary bursts of energy punctuated by speedy guitar lycs, riding the lightning.
Once deprecatingly maligned by locals as "Slowers," the wave has picked up a new moniker to go with its myriad of others -- "Shark Park" -- due to the recent rash of encounters with the Men In The Grey Suits. But the amiable Smith was born and raised in South Africa, one of the sharkiest places on earth, so maybe that plays right into his hands. You know, familiarity breeds contempt. Contempt can provide motivation. Motivation leads to victories.
Unlike J-Bay, which makes good surfers look poor, Lowers and its slopey faces and crumbly lips make average surfers look downright quality. A famous surf mag editor used to call it "marginal surfers riding exceptional waves." No one's ever bagged a proper barrel out at Trestles, but there's a good chance they've pulled the best maneuver of their lives out there, or something damn close to it. Unleashing a talent like Smith on the Lowers lineup is almost unfair. He absolutely bludgeons the place, dropping hammers like a bowl skater attacking his own backyard pool.
That old cliché about Lowers being like a skate park exists because… well, it's true. For a gifted surfer like Smith, the long, forgiving walls and crumbling coping provide ample time and space to put together a high-scoring run, err, wave. A drop-wallet hack here, a fin-ditch there, ride the roof over a closeout section, then punt a straight-air to finish with a flourish. Just ask Christian Fletcher, who coined a phrase for his hybrid brand of skatey surfing -- surfboarding -- basically from surfing out at Lowers.
Heading into the final days leading up to the Hurley Pro, Jordy Smith's not alone in his appreciation for the cobblestone peak created by the terminus of San Mateo Creek. First up, there's Mr. Mercurial -- Filipe Toledo. If he's not drawing a priority interference or bowing out in Round Two, he's virtually unstoppable.
Lest we forget to mention the two hottest surfers on Tour at the moment: No. 5 Julian Wilson (who placed 2nd to Taj Burrow at Lowers in 2013) and finished 1st, 3rd, and 5th in his last three events, and No. 7 Gabe Medina, who posted a 2nd in Tahiti and a 3rd at J-Bay. Those surfers and the rest of the elite CT crew -- both men and women again this year -- will all be looking to forge a relationship and turn Lowers into their own home spot, at least for a week or so.
Yet, what a confidence boost it'll be for Smith to pull on the Yellow Jersey at his home spot, that special affinity reaffirmed like the bond between a rocker and his muse, craftsman and his tool.
Be sure to check out Jordy Smith and the rest of the world's best surfers at the Hurley Pro Trestles and Swatch Pro beginning Sept. 6 - 17, 2017.