Trestles: Day 3

Lowers offers up rippable faces and ramps for the third day of competition

| posted on September 20, 2011

Julian Wilson, midway through one of the most progressive moves of the day, and the highest scoring ride of the event. Photo: Lowe-White

It doesn’t take much of a swell for Lowers to turn into the high-performance wave park that has been setting the standard for over 20 years now. The modest increase in swell today was just enough for those that wanted to project into the lip or high into the air (Kerr, Julian, Simpo, Adriano) to cut loose. While those who would rather use all that face to carve all over the place (Kelly, Parko, Mick) could put on quite a show as well.

All the varied action in the water has led to some very close heats that were extremely difficult to select a clear-cut winner. More than ever, the judges have been challenged to differentiate and decide how to score the many different styles of surfing on display. The two surfers who have combined the best of both worlds thus far, and are still going in the comp are Taj and Owen.

When Owen paddled into an end-of-the-heat bomb needing a 9, he never thought air for a second. Instead he methodically/surgically/brutally placed every turn in the perfect spot. It was a work of art, well above the other 8-point plus rides of earlier in the heat, and very deserving of a 9.77. Surfing that good, while on the wave face, will always get scored. Knock on wood.

Taj surfs at a much faster speed than everyone else—always has. He now buries his rail from start to finish when he’s not in the air. He’s been the future of surfing for 10 years or more already. Now that he’s added the power, Taj is showing us were the next 10 years or more needs to head. I’m thinking Taj for the win tomorrow.

Except Kelly threw down the two most radical, tight, arcing carves I’ve ever seen today, on a board that looked to be an extension of his feet, directly wired to his brain. One hundred tail-pop, air reverses on slopey faces dosen’t add up to one of those turns. And if anyone is making the final tomorrow, they will have to contend with the very non air-friendly morning conditions of Lower Trestles.

It started of Slowers the first two days, with everyone being extremely on edge—whether it be a last ditch struggle to put your name up there in the World Title race, or even a confused webcast viewer trying to figure out why the rides he sees and the scores dropping aren’t adding up correctly in their heads (get yourself a twitter account and start following every surfer you can find, or just Kelly, and you will see how truly subjective the sport of surfing actually is). For as long as I can remember, my friends and I have watched every heat, closely examining every ride, score given, and then expressed our opinions—sometimes in the form of vulgarities hurled towards the judging panel. Sorry. Social media has opened up those conversations to the world.

So tomorrow, as the swell peaks and 11 very capable surfers attempt to pry the Lowers title from Kelly, embrace your inner sports fan, cheer for what you like, and let ‘em know what you don’t—have an opinion. With the world shrinking capabilities of the internet, online forums, social media, and comments below this post should crackle with debate. Even if you’ve never surfed and live in Istanbul, you have an audience, and as a fan your opinion matters more than mine. I still get my clothes and boards for free.

Kelly Slater, in a holy alliance with his board throughout the day. Photo: Lowe-White

With Lowers peaks varying from vertical ramps to slopey faces, there was something for everyone to work with. Photo: Lowe-White

You know you've got a tough heat when a 15-point total puts you in third. Alas, such was the case when Mick Fanning came up against Julian Wilson and Joel Parkinson. Photo: Lowe-White

Damien Hobgood came up just short against Owen Wright in an all goofy-footer Round 4 match-up. Photo: Lowe-White

Josh Kerr was pushing the competition on the progressive front with a variation of airs, including a massive bigspin in his Round 4 heat. Photo: Lowe-White

Julian Wilson showed his extensive repatoire today with full-rail carves and slob grabs such as this. Photo: Lowe-White

Owen Wright has nothing but momentum coming into this event, and with a ticket to the quarterfinals he shows no signs of slowing. Photo: Lowe-White

In what had to be the most intense heat of the day, Joel Parkinson threw down an at-the-buzzer high score to barely topple Julian Wilson and earn his way to the quarters. Photo: Lowe-White



  • Fred the shred

    Good article Shea, really enjoy these pieces on the tour. Personally I thought Julian got robbed in the last heat!

  • TR

    Josh kerrs huge bigspin finished with a sick tail drift was the most underscored wave of the year…

  • Dave Mailman

    Shea, dig your stuff, and love your work in the booth, but double check your sources when making the trick calls. Sal over frothed that one. Great backside varlal, but far from a Big Spin…
    Here’s Chippa’s for reference:

  • shea

    Dave, I was surprised when Sal missed that call. Big Spin – board rotates a complete 360, body does a 180. Board Varial – board rotates only 180, body stays put. Body Varial – basically switching stance. Both Big Spins ans Board Varials are nearly impossible to do properly above the lip. Dane, Kerr, Julian, Medina can do soild varials because they can land, and ride out, switch. Chippa and Eric G. can somehow pull a big spin once every blue moon. My brother and I skated in comps long before we surfed in them. If you can do any skate trick on a surfboard, it is going to be a pretty basic one at that. A Big Spin would be the most technical skate move pulled on a surfboard. But, the ones pulled have been pretty weak, and on meager waves.
    Thanks for the compliments Dave and Solo

  • Ben

    Hey Shea, just curious, when are you going to admit that Slater is STILL easily the best surfer? Best turns, best tubes, and when forced, airs as good as anybody’s. Only healthy Dane and Jordy combine power and air as well and neither can tube-ride like Slater.

  • Marcelo

    Good work from Shea! as usual… kelly vs Owen in the final again, write it down

    Though Sal is a nice guy, he should only be the interview guy, at most.

  • shea

    Ben, Slater is the most complete surfer on tour, the best competitor by a mile, and a much better sport than Parko. When Parko devalued the varial from Julian for going switch momentarily, he alienated an entire generation of Julian fans that think Julian’s varial was a million times better than Parko’s 10 or so off-the-lips. Progress or get out of the way when it comes to a wave like Lowers. Slater not being afraid to go out on a limb and experiment with different equipment and new maneuvers the last few years is why he’s distanced himself from the pack…again.

  • Nav

    Shea, compliments on your post. As usual fair, balanced, insightful article written with interesting and colorful flair, I am always looking for your words on Surfer.
    This contest has been spectacular on the surfing front, but quite dismal on the judging front. In a number of heats the judges have undoubtedly lost their compass repeatedly when they either over scored or underscored rides in a big way, but the worst outcome has been when the deserving surfer has lost in the heat i.e. Conner, Miguel, Julian …
    As the commentators state and as one should expect given the “subjective factor” in this type of judging, the scores can be debated however the deserving surfer ultimately gets through or should get through. At Hurley Pro these judges have failed at ensuring that this cardinal premise is not broken, they have failed Conner, Miguel, Julian and ultimately the viewing public.
    One suggestion I would have for ASP is to prohibit “claims” which can be easily done by implementing a rule of automatic 1-point deduction. I think it places an uncalled for burden on the judges who at the end of the day are humans and subject to influences by their environment or at the most allow for the muted and subtle finger snap that Medina or Pupo tend to do w/o looking at the judges tower. None of this BS that Adriano, Davo do or what Mr. Parkinson pulled in R4 should be allowed to try to influence the judges in their favor ….

  • Marcelo

    Shovets and varials should not even be scored, the waves must be surfed, they are not silly tricks ramps

  • Me


    You probably cant do these type of manouver, right ol’ hunckey?
    You must be a 45 yo bitching about something that you cant do.

  • JC

    Great contest. Amazing surfing from Julian, Miguel and Gabriel…….Bobby who?

  • Mik

    Great read Shae. Your writing has elevated into a new realm of insight. Digging it. Especially the Taj comments. So bummed he lost today, but the reality is emerging that Kelly is destined to be Ke11y… And Kelly too has elevated further.

    What an amazing surfer, athlete, human being, and beyond magnificent representative of the Sport of Kings. The rest of the Tour has growing to do, except for Taj, Owen, and maybe Kerr, who are really starting to emerge as the worthiest rivals. I’d add in Adriano, who has progressed dramatically, but he needs to de-claim. It is counter-productive. It may be costing him points.

  • Zach

    Shea, thank you for your commentary, can I just say that I am still pissed PISSED (and I may be wrong) that Joel Parkinson got the win over Brett Simpson in their round 3 heat. Parko surfs very well, but it was also very average in that heat and it was the same exact surfing we’ve seen the last 10 years. Meanwhile, Brett showed a fantastic combination of power and innovation, and it was so refreshing after watching Parko surf the same way that competitive surfing has forever. He displayed EVERY aspect of surfing that the judges are looking for. If it had been a more “hyped” surfer (Dane or Owen) they would have certainly gotten the scores given how well Brett surfed. It seems that the favored surfers are exactly that and it seems to bleed into the judging. They need to focus some serious attention to this issue if they don’t lose fans and legitimacy. Another example, in New York, Cory vs Kieran Perrow, WTF? Your brother (and I admit he has always been a favorite of mine) surfed WAY better than KP, who was doing the most basic contest surfing at that, and KP takes the win. when I see things like this, I cant take Surfing seriously as a professional sport. Hopefully some things change soon…

    ps. the right person still won the contest.

  • Bobs

    Never seen someone as hyped as slater in any sport!!!!!!