Lowers Pro Preview

Shea Lopez on who to watch at this year's Nike 6.0 Lowers Pro

| posted on April 30, 2011

Last year's event winner Gabe Kling throws spray to the sky on his way to a Lowers Pro victory. Photo: Ellis

Prime events, such as the Nike 6.0 at Lowers, actually offer nearly as many points for competitors as World Tour events. This makes for stacked draws with an exciting mix of WT surfers competing directly against those hoping to take their place.

Historically, the skate-park peak at Lowers has been the place where those pushing the envelope have shined the most. Even with average surf forecasted for the event, it’s highly likely that one of the world’s best up-and-comers will upset the status quo.

The two most notable names competing for such an upset are Kolohe Andino and John Florence. Those two groms have all the moves at their disposal to make even the most seasoned ASP judge give them big scores. And their day is coming—but whether it’s in this contest or not remains to be seen.

The big news this week, however, is the addition of Kelly Slater as a wildcard entry into the event. Kelly was late with his decision to surf Lowers and was lucky enough to be granted the wildcard—likely due to the fact that those in charge know that any event Kelly makes an appearance at sees an unbelievable jump in attendance on the beach, media attention, and webcast viewers. Since Kelly was given the wildcard, you can expect him to make a sincere effort to surf his best.

Nobody, (or no three surfers, that is) deserve to win at Lowers more than those from just down the street, the Brothers Gudauskas. If the swell were to pump, you would have to say the two bigger goofyfoots of the family, Dane and Tanner, would be lethal. And although they both still rip the smaller stuff, it is Pat’s vast repertoire above the lip that makes him my favorite to pull off the homebreak victory.

Lowers is an ideal wave to showcase the talents—and flaws—surfer has in his competitive game. This week, don’t be surprised to see a few surfers you may not be familiar with taking down big names with big moves at risky times. Who do you think will win this year’s event? Personally, I’m leaning toward the winner being someone in the under-25 crowd. And if I had to pick one surfer, I’d go with Kolohe Andino, who’s poised to have his own John Florence-style coming out party at home.

  • Whamo

    SURFER needs to retract the old story from some kuk in HB that claims he was one of the two kneeboarders who surfed while the coast guard ship called them off the waves back in the Nixon era. They should get the real story from Rocky Rafkin, a golf pro in San Clemente, at the city course. It was he, and Chris Broughton, who soon after went to New Zealand, who were there. Not the kuk the claimed it from HB.

    They should start the contest off with a gunshot in honor of the original Trestles surfers who surfed even though somebody shot at them from the beach. They should also thank Richard Nixon for making Trestles part of the park system.

    Someone said you had to earn a surf at Trestles with the walk. In the old days we had to avoid the Marines and the cops. I remember one Christmas day when I went down there with the Dalton Gang (Doug and Bob and Eric Hopps). A cop pulled us over, but after deliberation, let us go. It was a good thing too, because we had a bag of weed.

  • mike

    The comparison of John John to Kolohe’s “Coming Out” is comedic. Kolohe rips the small stuff but has NOTHING on John John in waves on consequence. John John dominated in waves that would make 99% of the words surfing population poop their pants. Even at Trestles John John has better style and just as technical. I like how last year at the Puerto Escondido contest put on by Quiksilver Kolohe “MAGICALLY” did NOT show up….hmmmmm maybe cuz the waves were pumping?!?!?!? They hyped him surfing it for months before. The kid rips but is given too much credit. He needs to prove himself in Hawaii before I will put him in a class with John John.

  • Dirt

    If Kelly wants something, he gets it. You dont have to tell us Shea, we all know it. Like you said Kelly is worth big $$$ to the ASP, and they will do anything to keep him there. Kelly threatened to quit the tour after his poor showing at Bells, a smart move on Kellys part. Expect the ASP judges to throw some high scores his way in Brazil. 11th world title is on its way. Sorry Taj, Parko, Jordy and Mick, your superior surfing is not worth as much as Kelly’s pizza throwing. Its about $$$ remember.

  • Ben

    Dirt that was stupid. The other contenders also don’t free fall into barrels and emerge like Slater does. He still does stuff the others cannot.

  • munch

    I don´t think Florence has much of a chance at Lowers.

    Skate park wave = kolohe/medina = tricks
    pipe = john john = surf

    We all need a little money huh.

    And Dirt, maybe the same way Shea doesn´t have to tell us about Kelly, you don´t have to say anything about $$$! Cuz like yourself said it: “we all…”

    Kelly needs to do his part though, and Rio might be a tough venue to “find” some good scores.

  • munch

    Is Dane back btw?

  • dippy

    yall is crazy, you say how hard gabe kling ripped at bells, its obvious hes going back to back at lowers!!

  • Dirt

    @ Ben. Not true. For example, Parko will take a critical turn or tube ride and make it look easy. Kelly does the opposite, he will often make a more simple turn or tube ride look more critical than it actually is. This is deliberate. Like i said before, Kelly is smart.

  • Jeff

    @Dirt – I don’t buy into that comment. Last year when Dane beat Parko at Snapper it was radical surfing versus smooth surfing. It was tight radius quick pocket turns verses arching turns. It was above and with the lip surfing verses around the lip and open face surfing. Parko is not on either Dane’s or Kelly’s level as far as “high performance” surfing. You can argue that perhaps he might have an edge on Dane in bigger surf, simply from his successes, but he, I believe, way overscored for tube rides. If you watch that year he did well it all started with macking Snapper and barrels and then when it came to high performance his wheels fell off. Of course he blows 99.99% of the people away but I don’t want to see someone surf “LESSER” than Tom Curren – who I think Parko is a weak version of Curren. I want to see stuff that I can’t do like Dane and Kelly. I surfed through the 80’s. It’s over.

  • shorepound

    @dippy f yeah, go gabe!

  • Whamo

    Let’s just hope they get a decent swell.

  • Dirt

    @ Jeff. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, however your comments are flat out wrong. Do some homework, check out Parko’s section in “Stranger than fiction” , then come back and say that he is inferior to kelly in high performance. Also, parko hurt his foot in 2009 after j bay, it cost him the world title. And calling Parko a lesser Curran is silly, comparing surfers of different generations is stupid and unfair. Curran is one of the greatest surfers ever, yet his performances in the 80’s and 90’s are nowhere near where parko and co are at today. BTW Curran does not deserve the indignity of having this pointed out. Parko is the surfers surfer. The better a person surfs, the more likley he will appreciate Parko’s surfing. Kooks dont see the fuss.