Two members of the top five bow out on day one.
To be completely honest, I’d totally forgotten about the Hurley Pro Trestles. Early reports of dire waves throughout the waiting period extinguished what desire I had to watch the event, especially if it meant waking in the middle of the night to do so. That’s my friends, is what the heat analyser is for. Each tedious thirty-minute heat compressed into less than sixty seconds, or however long it takes to watch the handful of top rides from each matchup.
I did however catch the start of round two as I woke from a peaceful slumber. And there were some big upsets.
In the first elimination heat of the contest, world number 3, Matt Wilkinson was matched up against lithe Floridian goofyfoot and wildcard, Evan Geiselman. Wilko needed to make the heat if he was to stay in touch with the title race, but as the heat progressed he watched helplessly as the lightweight Geiselmann expertly dissected a handful of Lowers lefts at a speed the heavier Wilko couldn’t match in the soft conditions. A late score from the Australian did put him back in theoretical striking distance but it was too little, too late. A bummer for Wilko, but it’s good to see Evan back in the mix and doing damage after the horrific Pipe wipeout that almost took his life.
After the heat a clearly dejected Wilko thought the judges might have been a little harsh.
“After my last one I thought they (the judges) might’ve put me back in the heat but they didn’t seem to like it too much. I felt like I surfed it as good as I could. Even if I got another one I wouldn’t have made it, I don’t know, that tripped me out a little bit.
“You wanna win every event, and win every heat you go out in, so to lose that one so early in the contest is definitely tough, but I don’t know, I’ll go to France and try to not lose.”
In the next heat, good friend and Rip Curl stable mate Owen Wright, also a member of the top five, paddled out against Japanese wildcard Hiroto Ohhara. This time it was a strong start from the more established surfer, Owen blasting a left for an opener of 7.50, bettering Hiroto’s first keeper of a 6.83.
But it was the wildcard who once again would turn the tables on his more fancied opponent, throwing down a huge layback to air-reverse combo for an 8.90.
It’s strange how an average beachbreak can so effectively level the playing field. The top surfers looked as lost in the slop as the wildcards would at 8 foot Cloudbreak. The QS surfers exist on this shit. The tour surfers probably rarely even freesurf waves like the ones on offer today.
Owen did fire back with a strong 7.93, but it wasn’t the required 8.23 and for the second consecutive heat, a wildcard had dispatched a member of the top five.
Somewhere Jordy, already safely into round three, is sitting in the Jeep Leader's Jersey and rubbing his hands together. However, when he does face his first elimination heat he will surf against Evan Geiselman, the same man who took down Wilko. That will be a heat worth watching.
The other big news from round two? Ethan Ewing managed to make it through to round three again, after dispatching Joel Parkinson. And Josh Kerr is back baby! Something snapped inside the highflying Australian and he surfed angrily and agile, putting on a dominant display that had shades of Kerrsy at his technical best. He could do some damage if the ramps continue to appear for him.