The 2009 Hurley Pro at Trestles concluded on Saturday in inconsistent conditions, running through all of round four and the finals. While waves and conditions were less than stellar, the final day's performances were solid.
Former world champ Mick Fanning returned to his machine like form, taking down all challengers and improving his chances in the title chase. Many think Mick was just focused on shutting down the other hopefuls, to help his good mate Parko have a clear run at the title. Unfortunately for Joel, Eugene is way more competitive than that. Having moved into second place in the rankings, you can bet your ass Mick'll go for title number two.
Mick took down an impressive array of guys on his way to his high scoring finish, including the frothing rookie Tahitian Michel Bourez in the quarters; a back in form nine-time world champ Kelly Slater in the semis, and a recharged Dane Reynolds in the final.
Fanning may have won the day, but Dane Reynolds was the real entertainer. Mick's surfing is impressive beyond words and consistent beyond understanding, but about as predictable as gravity. Dane was the standout performer of the event. He raised the bar in every heat, grinding through sick turns, big hacks, and effortlessly punting air reverses. Every wave he paddled for had the crowd on their feet, with everyone dying to see what Dane would do. Building on his third place finish in South Africa, Dane is coasting up the rankings. If he learns to apply his raw talent with more consistency, he'll be a fixture in the top ten for years to come.
Kelly Slater had internet fans and his swollen beach crowds on their toes as he destroyed the competition in old school Slater style. He posted several of the highest heat scores and totals of the event, with an 18.50 in his first heat. He stomped out the local wildcard challenger Brett Simpson in round 3, sending Simpo back to finishing school; slightly edged out the rookie Hawaiian Kekoa Bacalso in the next round; and left Brazzo darkhorse, Heitor Alves searching for a near perfect score in the quarters. Slater fell out of form and out of sorts in the semis, while Fanning, in true robot form, cranked out two scores in the excellent range, shutting down Kelly's hopes of a second win this season. Though his third place finish was his second highest in 2009, Slater has a lot of ground to cover and a lot of voodoo to cast on his fellow ratings leaders if he wants to take home a tenth crown this year.
Everyone's favorite wildcard, Rob Machado dashed dreams on route to his defeat at the hands of Dane. Rob ousted Taj Burrow in the second round, leaving Taj with his lowest finish in 2009 and a much harder fight for a world title. Next, the Drifter edged out Joel Parkinson in their round three matchup. Parko fans are up in arms as Joel squeezed in a wave as the buzzer sounded, but the judges said the glove don't fit and the score don't count. Parko still leads the overall rankings going in to Europe, but some of his closest competitors were able to shorten the gap.
A big honorable mention goes to Michel Bourez, who proved his big boy water cred at Trestles, showing the world why he made it to the big show in the first place. Bourez aced Jordy Smith, Dean Morrison and CJ Hobgood on the way to the spanking he received from Fanning.
See ya in France!