Date: Thursday, September 11, 2014
Schedule: Men's Round 1 (Heats 1-12)
Conditions: 3-to-5-foot faces with occasional 6-foot sets at Lower Trestles
Heat 12: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Mitch Crews (AUS)
It looked like the swell was beginning to ebb, when John John Florence, Bede Durbidge and Mitch Crewsgot into position. But the young prodigy managed to find scores: A single-maneuver layback gave him an early lead. With over 10 minutes off the clock, the Australians were forced to act. Durbidge earned a negligible score on his opener while the rookie attacked the lip for a midrange five. But Florence upped his game again, throwing up a clean air for a solid backup.
John John went for big finishes in the second half of the heat but his risks had little reward and Crews pulled ahead as he refined his rail game. Florence settled down and eventually pulled off a series of progressive moves. His approach, precise but casual, earned him the go-ahead score -- an excellent 8.77 -- with five minutes remaining.
"For consistency I guess I have to stop trying to go all out on every turn I try," Florence said with a sheepish smile. "Nothing I do out there is conscious. It just sort of happens."
Results: John John Florence 15.27, Mitch Crews 13.10, Bede Durbidge 10.37
Heat 11: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Tiago Pires (PRT) vs. Josh Kerr (AUS)
After a tough time in Tahiti, Jordy Smith was back in full effect at Trestles. He broke out his powerful carves and progressive elements, from a boardslide across the lip to classic floaters that gave him an early lead. Aussie aerialist Josh Kerr was close behind, showing off his loose approach to progressive surfing.
Tiago Pires logged a solid eight-pointer on a ride with sweeping turns and classic form, but failed to follow up. He trailed Smith and Kerr throughout the heat, finally finding a six-pointer to move into second place. Smith held priority until the end, hanging on to the lead and moving to Round 3.
"I was waiting in the lineup and there was an amazing wave I was able to work with," Smith said. "I made some mistakes with priority so I'm stoked to make it through."
Results: Jordy Smith 16.06, Tiago Pires 14.73, Josh Kerr 13.50
Heat 10: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Alejo Muniz (BRA)
Perhaps taking notes from the black jersey success earlier in the day, Alejo Muniz got himself in gear early, holding slight lead over Australians Owen Wright and Julian Wilson in the heat's opening minutes. But Wright's second wave came earned the first nine-point ride of the event -- a 9.43 -- and he hovered just below the top score for the majority of the heat.
A crucial moment unfolded when Muniz and Wright split the peak with just five minutes remaining. The Aussie's switch-footed cutbacks impressed the judges, giving him the better score of the exchange -- an excellent 8.00 -- and moving him into first.
"When I went out, [in terms of strategy] I went, 'whatever comes, left or right,'" said Wright. "Being a goofy, you tend to go on the lefts a little more, but the rights tend to score better. The froth-factor for the goofies is having that option there."
Results: Owen Wright 17.43, Alejo Muniz 13.44, Julian Wilson 9.27
Heat 9: Nat Young (USA) vs. C.J. Hobgood (USA) vs. Dion Atkinson (AUS)
The 2013 rookie of the year, Nat Young opened the heat with a 5.00 to take the initial lead. He followed up strong, with an eight-pointer that sent him to the front of the pack. C.J. Hobgood and Dion Atkinson followed suit, working deep bottom turns to earn a 7.93 and a 6.83, respectively. But by the halfway mark, Young retained the lead.
Hobgood got fired up, powering through a long right on his backhand with textbook turns to earn an 8.30. Young answered back on a similar wave, hacking down the line for an 8.60 and cementing his lead. Atkinson, meanwhile, trailed throughout, ostensibly figuring out the lineup. He found some rhythm by the end, earning a pair of six-pointers, but they weren't enough to move the needle and Young took the win.
"I've had the same confidence all year: it was nice getting those early results but lately I've been struggling," Young said of his mentality coming into the event. "I just want to get back to what I was doing."
Results: Nat Young 16.70, C.J. Hobgood 16.23, Dion Atkinson 13.63
Heat 8: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Freddy Patacchia Jr. (HAW) vs. Jadson Andre (BRA)
After an international break, another local favorite took to the water. Kolohe Andino, coming off a Quarterfinals finish in Tahiti, won the early exchange, notching a 6.50 for a series of fins-free carves. Freddy Patacchia reversed the lead with an excellent eight-point ride for powerful rail-to-rail surfing. Jadson Andre failed to finish cleanly on his opening rides and found himself in an early combination situation.
A lull left scores stagnant until a renewed swell had all three riders up and riding again. Andre continued to struggle with his footing while Andino improved his bottom score with a series of cutbacks on his forehand. On the third wave of the set, however, Patacchia also improved his bottom score to a 7.43 and regained the lead. Andre caught huge air on a left for an excellent 8.40 and overtook second place, but he and Andino were still hunting the lineup for seven-point scores when time ran out.
"Kolohe's a really nice kid," said Patacchia. "But I really, really wanted to beat him after he beat in me in Tahiti. And I did it!"
Results: Freddy Patacchia 15.43, Jadson Andre 14.50, Kolohe Andino 13.97
Heat 7: Adriano De Souza (BRA) vs. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) vs. Aritz Aranburu (ESP)
Brazilian Adriano De Souza took an early leadwith a 7.50. He was followed by Hawaiian Sebastian Zietz and Spaniard Aritz Aranburu. But Aranburu -- who recently wowed crowds with a 9-pointer in Tahiti -- earned a 6.87 next, to move into the lead by the midway mark.
Soon after, though, De Souza found his rhythm, and took over the lead. He was powerful on his next wave, connecting turns seamlessly and driving for big wraps that impressed and earned an 8.67. He followed that up with another eight-pointer that solidified his spot in number one. With fewer than 20 seconds on the clock, Aritz Aranburu took off on a right in an effort to make up the points gap. But after a few turns the wave got mushy on the inside, and wouldn't cut it. De Souza got the advance tallying the highest heat total of the of the day.
"I feel confident out there," De Souza said. "The waves are small but have a lot of shape. I was lucky to find the two big options out there."
Results: Adriano De Souza 16.77, Aritz Aranuburu 10.87, Sebastian Zietz 9.50
Heat 6: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Adam Melling (AUS) vs. Carlos Munoz (CRI)
The first Costa Rican to compete in a WCT event was also the first on the board. Carlos Munoz, who was given the Hurley wildcard by way of the title sponsor's video trials, opened his campaign with clean carves to take the early lead over the world standings leader Gabriel Medina and Tour veteran Adam Melling. Medina found a peeling left for a series of forehand carves and a classic Medina rotation to overtake first position.
While Melling's score remained relatively stagnant, a see-saw battle between World No. 1 and the wildcard took the beach crowd to their feet. The pair traded off sixes and fives until Medina used his backhand attack to better his two-wave tally to a 13.70. Needing a seven-point ride to match, Munoz took off with seconds left. With his progressive approach to the long righthander, Munoz pulled off the upset.
"I cant believe how everything happened," said Munoz after his win. "I got this chance, I prepared myself mentally. ... When I heard the score, I started crying."
Reflecting on his final, heat-winning wave, Munoz said: "I heard everybody screaming, and I knew I needed a score. I gave my heart to that [last] one, so I'm glad the judges liked it. I can't believe it."
Results: Carlos Munoz 13.90, Gabriel Medina 13.70, Adam Melling 11.56
Heat 5: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) vs. Tanner Gudauskas (USA)
Kelly Slater earned the first solid score of Heat 5, earning an 8.00. Aussie Matt Wilkinson and local Tanner Gudauskas meanwhile, played to their respective strengths: Wilko with nimble, progressive turns and slides, Gudauskas with speed control and local knowledge. At the midway point, though, the Tour veteran led the pack, with a combined 11.83.
Just ahead of the five-minute mark, Guduaskas proved his mettle on home turf. Picking off on a crumbling righthander, he connected a series of fluid snaps down the line on his backhand and showed off his skills in variable conditions. The wave earned him an 8.50 to move into the lead and put the 11-time World Champ on the defense. Slater went for a 360 but couldn't land it. He and Wilkinson will compete in Round 2.
"I don't usually go right -- I'm like a Zoolander surfer -- but it felt good," Gudauskas said of his winning ride. As for the crowd roaring on his behalf: "I over-froth in general so I really got to watch it down here."
Results: Tanner Gudauskas 14.93, Kelly Slater 14.80, Matt Wilkinson 10.13
Heat 4: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Kai Otton (AUS) vs. Raoni Monteiro (BRA)
With competition went above the lip, Joel Parkinson, Kai Otton and Raoni Monteiro spent the opening minutes of Heat 4 taking big risks but with little success. Low scores prevailed until mid-heat when the former World Champ belted an excellent 8.17 for a series of powerful vertical attacks.
Parko ditched his early throwaway for a midrange backup and held a comfortable going into the final five minutes. Otton notched a 7.17 but his bottom score kept him a fair distance from the lead. With two minutes remaining, Monteiro took off on a right, opening with a vertical snap followed by a float section and capped off the ride with a massive layback.
"There weren't a lot of fireworks, but it was a heat where you had to quickly adjust bc the tide moved in so much," said Parkinson.
For his approach, he said, "I work on the speed of the wave, Ive always had this thing where, if you can be at the speed of the wave, you can dictate what turns you want to do. If you're behind... you hinder the flow and the kind of score you can get."
Results: Joel Parkinson 14.77, Raoni Monteiro 11.93, Kai Otton 11.77
Heat 3: Michel Bourez (PYF) vs. Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Jeremy Flores (FRA)
Filipe Toledo and Jeremy FLores were both sidelined for the Billabong Pro Tahiti, Toledo having suffered an ankle injury and Flores suspended for actions at the J-Bay Open entered the water for the first time since an ankle injury. Now back with much to prove, the two faced off with Michel Bourez for the third heat of Round 1.
Bourez notched the first excellent score of the encounter with an 8.84. But it was Frenchman Jeremy Flores who held the early lead with a pair of midrange scores. Toledo, despite his early success, couldn't find his rhythm and made a series of mistakes that left in the back of the pack.
In the dying moments, though, the Brazilian's second attempt at a 360 paid off, earning him applause from the beach and an 8.67 -- just three-hundredths of a point behind the number that would have put him in first. Bourez retained his lead and moved to Round 3.
"I was talking to my coach before and was thinking maybe it's better just to stick to my game and go 80 percent, but I couldn't do that," Bourez said. "You never know surfing against Toledo because he can throw airs so easy. I guess I got lucky he didn't get the score."
Results: Michel Bourez 14.20, Filipe Toledo 14.17, Jeremy Flores 13.77
Heat 2: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Miguel Pupo (BRA) vs. Brett Simpson (USA)
With half of the heat off the clock, a midrange score separated first from third until Fanning opened up his powerful rail game, charging the lip with hacks and floaters for a 7.17. Simpson rode out a long righthander to improve over Pupo. Surfers in second and third went for big airs in the final 10 minutes but were not able to finish cleanly.
Commenting on momentum from his July win at J-Bay, Fanning said, "That one didn't carry me too far, I got smashed in Tahiti."
"One minute you're a hero, the next you're a zero," he continued. "That's the beauty of this Tour. There's so many great guys. Anyone from number 32 to up to can win an event. That's what makes this Tour special."
Results: Mick Fanning 12.40, Miguel Pupo 10.94, Brett Simpson 10.17
Heat 1: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. Travis Logie (ZAF)
The first heat of the men's competition saw defending event champion Taj Burrow in the water with fellow Aussie Adrian Buchan and South African Travis Logie. Burrow earned the first significant score of the heat, making seemingly casual turns on a clean, morning face for a 7.67. After Logie notched a mediocre score on his opening ride, Buchan -- known for hard-charging, steep drops -- showed off perfect backside snaps for a cheering crowd. The ride put him in the lead with an 8.00.
Throughout the battle, Burrow took off on multiple waves but fell on one of the biggest, and his total scoreline stalled. Buchan earns the direct line into Round 3, while Logie and Burrow are left to battle again in Round 2.
"I'm paddling out confident and I know I've done everything I've wanted to do in terms of preparation," Buchan said. "We've had four or five days of really fun waves to warm up on here and we've seen some great waves today so it looks like it's going to be fun."
Results: Adrian Buchan 13.10, Travis Logie 9.57, Taj Burrow 7.67