2017 WSL Hurley Pro at Trestles Preview
In the driver's seat
South African Jordy Smith is currently fronting the World Surf League Championship Tour ratings. Originally hailing from Durban, Smith has called San Clemente home and Lowers his local spot for the past few years. Perhaps the most powerful surfer on tour, he has the ability to manhandle the dainty cobblestone point while still weaving explosive, progressive maneuvers into his repertoire. A win at the Hurley Pro for Smith puts him in the driver's seat in the race for the 2017 world title. "I love this wave, it's so rippable. It's such a wide-open canvas that you can really be creative with you surfing. And living here for awhile now, I feel like I've seen a lot of its different moods," said Smith.
Defending Swatch Pro champion and reigning world champion Tyler Wright has to be considered the clear favorite this year. The worst result she's had all year is a quarterfinal finish, and as such, she's currently leading the 2017 world title race. "It's a great wave and a great opportunity to really get technical with your surfing," said Wright after her win last year. "You really have to have the variety and the combination of maneuvers to succeed here because it's such a consistent wave."
High performance waves
There's a reason the world's best surfers relish the opportunity to surf Lower Trestles in San Clemente, California. Typically one of the most crowded waves in the state, it's also one of the most high-performance. An A-frame peak, it offers both lefts and rights which offer an abundance of scoring opportunities.
Well suited for a win
Hailing from nearby Santa Ana, Courtney Conlogue is also well suited to win the contest. With two contest wins this season already, she's sitting in third behind Australians Wright and Sally Fitzgibbons. A win in San Clemente could put her in the pole position.
Something to prove
Another San Clemente transplant is Filipe Toledo. Considered by many to be the best small-wave surfer in the world, Toledo's originally from Brazil but has taken up residence in town to be closer to Lowers and the Orange County-based surf industry. After a statement-making win at the J-Bay Open in South Africa earlier this year, Toledo suffered an early-round loss at the last WSL contest in Tahiti. Coming into the Hurley Pro with a chip on his shoulder and something to prove, our guess is that his heats will be among the most exciting of the entire contest.
Like a skatepark
"Lowers is a great event, I love that event. It's like a skatepark out there. It's going to be a really exciting," said John John Florence after his third-place finish in Tahiti last month.
Home away from home
"I started competing here in the NSSA contests when I was really little and I feel pretty comfortable here," said Carissa Moore, a former winner at the Swatch Pro. "It's one of my favorite waves and kind of like a home away from home."
Back in contention
Last year, Matt Wilkinson was running away with the world title when the wheels came off. He's back in contention this year and has learned from his mistakes. He may not have the power or flair that Smith and Florence do, but he brings a lot of excitement with his spontaneity and free-flowing style.
One to watch
Julian Wilson, winner of the Billabong Pro Tahiti, is also one to watch. The Hurley Pro is a contest the talented Australian probably should have won already given his abundance of talent, but somehow, it's alluded him. Fresh off his win at Teahupo'o, Wilson has momentum on his side and appears to be in a good rhythm at the moment. Currently ranked fifth in the world, a win at Lowers slingshots him into the world title conversation.
As far as local heroes goes, all eyes will be on Kolohe Andino who grew up surfing Lowers. "It's epic to come down and have that kind support and feel that love. It's inspiring," said Andino.
Fresh off a win
Fresh off a stunning victory at the U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach earlier this summer, Sage Erikson is having a career year and now finds herself ranked sixth in the world. "Trestles is such a groomed wave that it gives you a chance to showcase your style, and your surfing, so I love that the girls get to show that," said Erickson.
Stephanie Gilmore won the inaugural Swatch Pro a couple of years ago. She'd love to get back atop the podium.
Never count Gabriel Medina out. The man has a penchant for pulling off the unexpected. In fact, he expects it of himself. Finishing runner-up at the Billabong Pro Tahiti, he's cracked the top ten and is steadily climbing the rankings. Medina's dangerous in any and all conditions, and he'd love to upset the world title race as much as he can.