It took most of the day for the fog to dissipate in San Clemente, Calif., and there was even a 15-minute delay as the lineup disappeared for a little while and everything went white, but to be sure, the performances during the opening day of the Hurley Pro shined through.
Maximizing the remaining south swell on offer, organizers started the contest early and, save for the brief weather delay, didn't let off the gas until 5 p.m. Putting in quite possibly the most demonstrative show, Julian Wilson put his stamp on the Hurley Pro straight away. Facing formidable opponents in John John Florence and Miguel Pupo, everyone came out throwing haymakers. Pupo opened with a 9.3, Florence countered with an 8.1, then Wilson stepped into the fray with an 8.7. He never looked back.
"When I saw the ratings after Tahiti I knew I'd have a Round 1 rematch from the last event. I'd been thinking about it for the last couple of weeks and it was a good heat to win. Miguel started really strong and then a couple of good waves came. I got a good score on that left that gave me a couple of sections to hit, and then I had the right," noted Wilson afterward.
"I'm focusing on my surfing and my equipment and once I start to do that, everything falls into place. I'm in a good head space and the waves are always fun here, so hopefully the swell sticks around for a few more days."
For the most part it was a rough day for the local competitors as Kolohe Andino, Pat Gudauskas and Nate Yeomans were all relegated into Round 2, but Huntington Beach, Calif.'s Brett Simpson had a career heat against 11-time world champion Kelly Slater and free-surf hero Dane Reynolds.
"Doesn't matter unless you win the next heat," Simpson smiled at the end of the day, "but that one felt good."
By day's end Slater would reemerge in Round 2 and make short work of Reynolds. Aware that world titles can be won and lost at Lowers, Slater felt the uncharacteristic twinge of pressure.
"There was definitely a bit of pressure in that heat because Mick [Fanning] has good results and Joel [Parkinson] has a few bad results," said Slater. "I also don't have anything to throw away and Mick has all keepers. Also, Jordy [Smith] is every bit in this race, so it was important to me to get out of that one."
Parkinson also stumbled in Round 1, but made good in Round 2 against wildcard Ian Crane. Smith put in a powerful performance, laying down some vicious rail turns to easily advance into Round 3. If Smith were able to win this event it would really put him in the hunt for the title, and the feat looks like it is well within his grasp.
Ending the day with authority, Adriano de Souza appears to be back in form after a lackluster showing in the last few events. He put up the highest heat total of the day with an 18.8. De Souza surfed fast and strong, throwing big hacks and powerful carves. He's looking to make a push back to the top, and if today's performance is any indication, we could easily see him on the final day.
"This event is really important to me and last year I got third," de Souza said. "That first round was a bummer, and I knew in that round with Mitch Crews [it] would be hard. I put everything into it and got good scores. The last two or three events I've been out of rhythm, so I'm hoping for a good result here."
Sixteen heats have been surfed so far, but the next week of surf forecasts don't look great. With the way everyone is surfing, though, there's sure to be plenty of excitement. In the end, that's what a contest should be about.
HURLEY PRO AT TRESTLES ROUND 1 RESULTS
Heat 1: Nat Young (USA) 14.20, Fred Patacchia (HAW) 8.87, Kieren Perrow (AUS) 8.84
Heat 2: Taj Burrow (AUS) 14.54, Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 11.03, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 10.17
Heat 3: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 15.77, Mitch Crews (AUS) 10.50, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 9.23
Heat 4: Travis Logie (ZAF) 12.26, Joel Parkinson (AUS) 11.70, Nathan Yeomans (USA) 11.67
Heat 5: Mick Fanning (AUS) 15.50, Kolohe Andino (USA) 15.00, Ian Crane (USA) 9.33
Heat 6: Brett Simpson (USA) 15.60, Kelly Slater (USA) 14.73, Dane Reynolds (USA) 6.93
Heat 7: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 15.94, Alejo Muniz (BRA) 15.70, Josh Kerr (AUS) 10.03
Heat 8: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 14.63, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 14.17, Yadin Nicol (AUS) 10.03
Heat 9: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 14.07, Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 13.67, Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 8.60
Heat 10: Adam Melling (AUS) 13.30, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 11.96, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 11.23
Heat 11: Julian Wilson (AUS) 17.40, Miguel Pupo (BRA) 15.50, John John Florence (HAW) 12.97
Heat 12: Michel Bourez (PYF) 15.36, Damien Hobgood (USA) 12.50, Kai Otton (AUS) 11.57
HURLEY PRO AT TRESTLES ROUND 2 RESULTS
Heat 1: Kelly Slater (USA) 13.67 def. Dane Reynolds (USA) 10.00
Heat 2: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 16.13 def. Ian Crane (USA) 12.74
Heat 3: Josh Kerr (AUS) 14.40 def. Nathan Yeomans (USA) 10.17
Heat 4: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 18.83 def. Mitch Crews (AUS) 12.90
REMAINING HURLEY PRO AT TRESTLES ROUND 2 MATCH UPS
Heat 5: Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. Patrick Gudauskas (USA)
Heat 6: Kai Otton (AUS) vs. Kieren Perrow (AUS)
Heat 7: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Alejo Muniz (BRA)
Heat 8: Jeremy Flores (FRA) vs. Yadin Nicol (AUS)
Heat 9: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) vs. Raoni Monteiro (BRA)
Heat 10: Fred Patacchia (HAW) vs. Miguel Pupo (BRA)
Heat 11: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Damien Hobgood (USA)
Heat 12: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) vs. Kolohe Andino (USA)