Author Archives: ASP Addict

About ASP Addict

Our ASP Addict has been surfing since he was a grom, and, as you can see, he can shred pretty well himself. He started surfing on a boogie board as a kid, but much prefers his current quiver, from a 5'11" Firewire Flexfire to a 7'2" Sauritch gun. In addition to surfing, Addict follows the ASP World Tour religiously. He's surfed everywhere from California and Iceland to Long Island, Rhode Island, Brazil, Mexico, Puerto Rico and France.

Is the “Momentum generation” still relevant?

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While watching each World Tour event over the past few years, I’ve found myself in a constant state of struggle over supporting the new guard versus the old. I grew up with the Momentum generation. I was in high school while they were hitting their stride on tour. They were the innovative youngsters, changing the way we all looked at surfing… even the judges.

Fast forward twenty years. Only two of those heroes from my youth remain on the elite tour today. On one hand you have Kelly Slater, whose freakish ability to continue innovating and staying at the cutting edge of surfing is awe inspiring and surreal. On the other, you have Taylor Knox, who continues to say he’s surfing better than ever before, though his performance is hardly inspiring. Like a tired old warhorse, he trudges on, but a quick preview of his sections from almost any surf video of yore will prove that his best days are far behind him.
Purists will argue that Taylor’s patented cutback, fluid style and powerful hacks should be embraced by judges and studied by the younger surfers on tour. Purists be damned. I love Taylor’s steez and wish I had it, but I’ll bet you Taylor wishes even more that he had an air game. I wanted to root for him the past few times he drew Gabriel Medina or one of the other young talents in a heat. I really did want to cheer him on, this hero of my youth. But… I found myself jumping out of my seat with excitement at every ridiculous punt Medina lofts.
Medina and Taylor are a perfect comparison of where surfing is now versus where it came from. The difference between their approaches is night and day. Youth versus age. Excitement versus get ‘er done. Explosiveness versus tried and true. The fact that Medina is the better of the two is obvious. Yet, perhaps ironically, Knox and Medina are only a few spots apart in the back of the World Tour rankings. Rankings aside, any guy on tour will tell you, Medina will win his first World Title soon, while Taylor clearly missed his window. If Medina has the staying power of Slater, he can still be earning titles long after Taylor is eligible for AARP membership.
Is the Momentum generation still relevant? It’s legacy most certainly is. Kelly Slater definitely is.  But, Taylor Knox might want to consider the path of the rest of his peers and leave the highest level of performance to those who are performing at the highest level.

Global Surf Industries Goes Coconuts!

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Ya see that board over there that looks like it’s made of brown marble?

Yeah?

 

 

Coconut.

 

Coconut? No shit!

 

 

Yep. Coconut.

 

Why didn’t I think of that?

 

 

Cause you keep yapping on about hemp boards, then smoke all the materials.

Global Surf International dreamed up coconut mat boards and brought their patent pending idea from concept through production. As coconut water has rapidly become the new water, we’re left with mountains of empty coconut husks itching for a second life. This waste was a daily reality for the Thailand based GSI employees on their daily treks past coconut fields to the GSI factory. The question was, what could be done with all those shells? A little creative thinking and testing had GSI turning them into eco-friendly surfboard materials.

The final product looks like a standard PU board with brown marble paint jobs on top and bottom. The coloring is not paint at all, but is actually brown coconut husk strips from a loose shake that are patted flat and glassed onto the board. This is no woven fabric, nor synthesized product. It’s just 100% pure coconut goodness spread around the top and bottom of the board. Why do this, you ask? A) it looks cool as shit; and B) the coconut strips offer a stronger, lighter alternative to even carbon fiber cloth, giving the board a super-natural strength.

I’m sold on the concept and I’m sure it won’t be very long before other shapers start incorporating some type of coconut mash into their designs. Check the coconut mat boards out at GSI’s website and stay tuned for more coconutty concoctions in the near future.

Did Freddy P really interfere with Michel Bourez’ wave?

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The backdrop:

Bells Beach during the 2012 Rip Curl Pro. Second round, heat five. Fred Patacchia vs. Michel Bourez.

The wave:

A clean head-high line unloads on the bank. The Spartan strokes into it in the pocket, while Freddy P. paddles in just a few yards inside, all eyes on where he’s going, without even a glance toward the pocket.

The incident:

Freddy P. gets to his feet and takes a quick look back, only to see Bourez charging towards him. Freddy quickly hits eject and kicks over the back. Michel, undeterred, goes on to hack the wave to pieces.

The call:

Freddy got hit with an interference call, meaning his second highest score in the heat would be halved.

The result:

A hobbled Freddy P. tore the bag out of everything he could get, while the rattled Spartan dropped the oversized ball and couldn’t put enough of a score together to take the win. Even with the interference, Fred survived to surf another day.

Why the interference?

If you look carefully at the moment of the incident, you can see an ever so subtle hesitation on the part of Michel Bourez. But, even a millisecond of hesitation can make or break a score. The line Michel might have drawn had Freddy not paddled in may have very well been the same, but… allowing Freddy’s pop up sans interference would open the door for others to do the same.

You might not agree with the call (especially after seeing Bourez proceed to demolish the wave), but that’s how priority positioning works. You wait your turn and take your wave. You never interfere with the surfer with priority’s scoring potential. And, whether you have priority or not, you always, always, always keep an eye on where the other guy is.

The lesson:

Mistakes happen, but cooler heads always prevail.

Give back to surfing by donating for surf history

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Surfing is one hell of a selfish pursuit, but we all give into it. Every now and then we get a chance to give back, but how often have you blown off a beach cleanup, a Surfrider Foundation meeting or the like for a surf? Now, there’s a perfect opportunity to give back. Now, you can donate and be a part of surf history by helping fund an award winning filmmaker’s drive to complete a previously untold surf story.

Thomas Brookins, my good friend, neighbor and the award winning director of the New York City surf history documentary, Shadows of the Same Sun, has taken to Kickstarter to raise the necessary funds to complete his latest surf documentary, Fire and Water.

Per the official Kickstarter page:

This is the story of Don “Gums” Eichin, from Long Island NY, who was one of a handfull of pioneering surfers in the late 1950’s and 60’s that set out to make a life in Hawaii. Don was joined by some of surfing’s greatest legends, testing their skills in the big waves of Hawaii’s Northshore; surfing Oahu’s Banzai Pipeline, Wiamea, and “Gums”, the infamous spot named after one of Don’s worst wipeout. Returning to NYC in the late 60’s, he became a New York City Firefighter during one of the most dangerous times in NYC history. Living a life that is no less than legend, his passion for surfing, the ocean and firefighting passed through a generation inspiring his family and friends to surf and become FDNY Firefighters.
This film is an important lost surfing tale that is still being written today as Don’s sons, Eric & Randy follow in their father’s footsteps alongside good friends Brian Walsh & Casey Skudin. It is an eye opening look at how surfers from New York have always been there and how these surfers gained respect amongst surfers from all over the world.

Thomas Brookins has worked tirelessly to piece this story together, breaking his wallet and even battling cancer along the way. He’s now turning to all of us, the surfers, to help fund the film’s finish.

Bring out your inner Aloha, get out your credit card, head to the official Fire and Water Kickstarter page and take an active part in seeing this unique surf story find its ending.

Shame on a Hobgood who try to run game on a Hobgood

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I was watching the second day of the 2012 Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach and I can’t understand for the life of me why they would put both CJ and Damien Hobgood in the same heat.

Granted it’s only the first round, which is essentially just a warm up round. But, the winner, in this case Damien, went straight through to round three, while second and third place finishers – CJ and Michel Bourez were forced to fight for survival in round two.

After the falloff of Tanner Gudauskas, the retirement of Bruce and passing of Andy Irons, the Hobgoods are the only remaining brothers on tour. Seeding aside, it seems silly to have the twins face off in the first round of competition. Wouldn’t the fans rather see them duke it out at a more critical point?

I’d personally rather see Damien and Ceej paddle battle through a man-on-man heat, throwing elbows to the face and caution to the wind. Instead, the brains at the ASP gave us a premature evacuation, throwing the ‘Goods in a no loser round.

The silver lining is that CJ overtook Miguel Pupo in the loser round to make it into round 3. So if he and Damo hold out, I may just get my wish.

Mark Kelly shares the latest and greatest from Global Surf Industries

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I just caught up with Mark Kelly, the brains and brass behind Global Surf Industries, to check out GSI’s 2012 lineup. If 2012 is the year the world ends, Kel’s latest additions offer a fine way to end it. Kel has dropped a major new line, a material revolution and the foamie everyone wants to give a go.

GSI has gone new school-advanced. They have just launched a range of high performance boards from HaydenShapes. Yep. The Hayden. Hayden Cox. AKA the guy who makes Craig Anderson’s magic boards. If you like your boards under 6 foot or fancy yourself a red hot rippah, this is the line you’ve been waiting for.

GSI has gone coconuts. They are substituting coconut husks for carbon fibers to produce one of the most eco-friendly forms of structural support to date. How effing cool is that? Coconut husks. File that under: “why didn’t I think of that?”.

GSI has gone experimental foamie. They just brought the too-cool-for-school, finless Tom Wegener Seaglass Tuna board to a much wider audience with the introduction of a foamie version. At just around $250, it’s a must have item for every well rounded quiver. It looks absolutely stunning in the flesh.

GSI is soon to release the Meyehoffer Horse Pill. It’s a shorter, thicker version of the Meyerhoffer Pill that’s just dying to be ridden. Keep your eyes peeled for the release.

GSI has a killer iPad app coming out soon. Kel walked me through the beta version and it is shweet! It puts the various GSI board lines at your fingertips in the most accessible interface imaginable.

GSI has lots of good stuff released and dropping real soon. I’m already lining up for a couple  Haydens, a Wegener foamie and a Meyerhoffer Horse Pill. Head on over to Global Surf Industries’ website to check out the latest and greatest. Can’t wait to see what Kel and crew have up their sleeves next!

ASP posts the NEW Top 34 Surfers

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The ASP just finalized its selection of the 2012 top 34 and there are a few notable departures, additions and survivors. Let’s take a look.

The biggest single departure would be Dane Reynolds, though it can almost be argued that he wasn’t really even on tour in 2011. Dane was “injured” for six events, completely blew off another two, and placed 13th, 25th and 37th in the three events he deigned worthy of his presence. We all know what he’s capable of, but clearly his mind and health (or mental health) weren’t there this year.

Fred Patacchia, Dan Ross and Chris Davidson have also fallen off the tour, though we’ll likely see Freddy P and Davo as injury replacement surfers throughout the first half of the year.

The 2012 season will also see a few exciting additions. 17 year old Kolohe Andino broke into the big leagues. Brother has been hyped for years and has quickly lived up to it. It will be great to see him mixing it up with the world’s best. Joining Kolohe is Yadin Nicol who was granted an injury wildcard. Yadin gave up a hard won midyear seed on tour in September after an injury sidelined him for over 3 months. His wildcard is well earned and he’s also sure to bring some excitement.

CJ Hobgood is back on tour after briefly failing to requalify during the 2011 midseason cut. The gray man of the tour, Taylor Knox managed to hold on for another season with a late season push and some strong results in France and San Francisco. Kieren Perrow was deep in the danger zone. He pulled off a real end of season fairy tale ending, saving his hide with his well earned Pipe victory.

With Snapper Rocks just two months away, here are the 2012 top 34 (courtesy of the ASP)-

2012 ASP TOP 34:
1. Kelly Slater (USA)
2. Joel Parkinson (AUS)
3. Taj Burrow (AUS)
4. Gabriel Medina (BRA)
5. Owen Wright (AUS)
6. Adriano de Souza (BRA)
7. Julian Wilson (AUS)
8. Jordy Smith (ZAF)
9. Alejo Muniz (BRA)
10. Michel Bourez (PYF)
11. Josh Kerr (AUS)
12. Damien Hobgood (USA)
13. John John Florence (HAW)
14. Mick Fanning (AUS)
15. Jeremy Flores (FRA)
16. Heitor Alves (BRA)
17. Miguel Pupo (BRA)
18. Adrian Buchan (AUS)
19. Kieren Perrow (AUS)
20. Bede Durbidge (AUS)
21. Raoni Monteiro (BRA)
22. Brett Simpson (USA)
23. Adam Melling (AUS)
24. Kolohe Andino (USA)
25. C.J. Hobgood (USA)
26. Tiago Pires (PRT)
27. Jadson Andre (BRA)
28. Matt Wilkinson (AUS)
29. Patrick Gudauskas (USA)
30. Dusty Payne (HAW)
31. Travis Logie (ZAF)
32. Taylor Knox (USA)
33. Kai Otton (AUS) *surfer wildcard (next on the ASP World Rankings)
34. Yadin Nicol (AUS) *surfer wildcard (injury)
1st Alternate: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW)
2nd Alternate: Willian Cardoso (BRA)
3rd Alternate: Chris Davidson (AUS)
4th Alternate: Thiago Camarao (BRA)

Pipeline Delivers an Epic Finish to the 2011 Season

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20111212-101933.jpgIt’s a wrap folks. The 2011 Billabong Pipeline Masters and the 2011 season are done and dusted. What could have been an anticlimactic final event turned into the must see event of the season, with Pipe providing jumbo sized barrels throughout the event.

Going into Pipe, Kelly Slater had already snagged the World Title and the seats on next year’s Tour were mostly filled. Leaving Pipe, Kelly Slater is still a master, Kieren Perrow saved his spot on Tour, the local boys charged hard and the Aussies took the day. The Pipe Master’s title might have once again eluded runner-up, Joel Parkinson, but it was a well deserved victory for Kieren Perrow.

KP threaded through three days of oversized pits to claim his first tour win of his career at what most consider to be the most prestigious venue in the sport. Moreover, his win pushed him back onto next year’s tour. If KP didn’t advance through to at least the quarterfinals, he would have been sent back to the minors. He couldn’t have possibly picked a better way to prove his relevance than to go out and win at big Pipe.

The locals flared throughout the event, stopping the best of the best dead in their tracks and pushing through to the quarterfinals. Two local wildcards, Jamie O’Brien and Evan Valiere, won through to the quarters alongside the local tour rookie, John John Florence. John John, of course, took enough points from his quarterfinal finish to claim his first Triple Crown victory. This is surely only the first of many for the young talent.

Now, the boys of the World Tour are on break until February, when they’ll return to Snapper Rocks for the first event of 2012. We’ll break down just who made the cut and who didn’t for the 2012 season as the wildcards are awarded and the lineup settles over the next few days.

Holding Our Breaths for the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing

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If you’ve been aching to see the Hawaiian season kick off, Monday is the magic day. While other prominent North Shore breaks have been seeing playful surf, Haleiwa has been epically flat since the start of the waiting period for the Reef Hawaiian Pro, suffering under summer-like conditions for over a week.

The real excitement will kick off in round two when current women’s World Champ Carissa Moore will put her talent on the line against the boys. While interest in surfing and the sheer number of female surfers has continued to surge, the dollars for the female professionals just haven’t kept pace. As a result, the women were left without a single Hawaiian event in 2011. Without an event or contest series to call their own, Carissa was granted a one of a kind wildcard into the first two events of the men’s Triple Crown. Carissa will be up against Cory Lopez and two surfers who advance through round one.

Sit back and get ready for some pre-Thanksgiving action packed days as the Reef event now only has three days to run from start to finish. Hit up the official event website and be sure not to miss Carissa Moore’s historic heat in round 2.

ASP Releases the 2012 World Tour Schedule

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The schedule has just dropped for the 2012 World Tour season. Per the official ASP World Tour website, next year’s lineup won’t look a whole lot different than this year’s. The only real differences being that the Rip Curl Search is out and Fiji is back in.

Rip Curl will continue to spin each successive Search event as “the best event ever”, but they need to step up the search a bit. San Francisco was underwhelming, and while it might have been acceptable as just another stop on American soil, as a Search event it fell flat. If Rip Curl feels they need a city event, then they should pony up and add a whole new event to the schedule. If they want to maintain the spirit of The Search, they should keep their eye on far off locales with top quality waves.

Here’s Rip Curl’s statement on the missing Search event:
“We are taking a year off from the front line of running the event and putting a solid 18 months into the planning of the 2013 Rip Curl Pro Search. To take the Search to the next level is always the goal. We do that every year, but following San Francisco and the twist it delivered to the surfing world we feel we need more time and care to really blow minds,” said Rip Curl’s Neil Ridgway. “Throughout the history of the Rip Curl Pro Search we have had everything from ASP world titles to underworld rip offs, terrorist alerts to perfect tubes, great personal and professional difficulty and epic celebration parties. This event more than any other combines the discipline of professional sport with the traveling lifestyle and freedom surfers love. It needs to be nurtured so it grows better than ever. A year tending to it in planning is the right way to develop it.”

On a positive note, the Quiksilver Pro New York is back. The stop quickly became a favorite among the guys on tour and despite the City of Long Beach trying its hardest to kill the event at the last minute, went off without a hitch. If the waves show up again next year as they did for the finals this year, we’re all in for one hell of a show.

Here’s your 2012 schedule:

2012 ASP World Title Series
Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast – Australia (February 25 – March 7, 2012)
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach – Australia (April 3 – 14, 2012)
Billabong Rio Pro – Brazil (May 9 – 20, 2012)
Volcom Pro Fiji – Fiji (June 3 – 16, 2012)
Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay – South Africa (July 11 – 22, 2012)
Billabong Pro Teahupoo – Tahiti (August 16 – 27, 2012)
Quiksilver Pro New York – USA (September 2 – 14, 2012)
Hurley Pro at Trestles – USA (September 15 – 23, 2012)
Quiksilver Pro France – France (September 26 – October 6, 2012)
Rip Curl Pro Portugal – Portugal (October 7 – 17, 2012)
Billabong Pipe Masters – Hawaii (December 8 – 20, 2012)

Rip Curl Pro Search wraps up “Somewhere in San Francisco”

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Yes, Gabriel Medina claimed the win at this year’s Rip Curl Pro Search event, held in the ultra-secret San Francisco. Not only did he take home the trophy, money and points, but Gabriel’s second win on the 2011 World Tour earned him heaps of respect, praise and confidence. Most importantly, his win gave legitimacy to the half-year reshuffle that so many have rallied against.

Gabriel (I refuse to call him “Funky Cold”) Medina bested Joel Parkinson in a seasick final at Ocean Beach. If you have your own horror story of surfing in chunky conditions at Ocean Beach, then Monday’s final was familiar ground. Gabriel surfed through the heavily textured conditions with absolute grace and precision, linking together turns and sections as if he were surfing any other righthand point break. In an amazing display of good ol’ fashion hook-in-the-pocket surfing, Gabriel silenced anti-aerialists, naysayers, anti-Brazilians and other critics by winning the final on his ground game alone.
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In other news, some young whippersnapper named Kelly Slater won his eleventh World Title in San Francisco, then didn’t yet win it, then won it again a few days later. If it’s to be believed, Kelly himself found the error in calculation that handed him the title before he really earned it. In any event, he earned it in spades this season and won it for good in his round four heat against Gabriel Medina and Miguel Pupo. More impressive than his heat and title win was his after buzzer victory lap that sent him hurtling through the longest barrel of the event, only to come shooting out the end section long after most had written him off. Thanks again for the show Kelly. You truly are the people’s champion.
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Beyond Kelly’s title and Gabriel’s ascendancy, one of the other major highlights of the event was Pat Gudauskas’ round three victory over Jordy Smith. Gudang stuck a gorkin flip halfway through the heat, earning him a solid lead and an ankle fracture. He paddled in just seconds later, leaving Jordy out the back with almost 13 minutes left on the clock. Thanks to Pat’s mixed bag of luck, Jordy was unable to put together the necessary score to move on, leaving an empty Gudauskas sized vacancy in rounds four and five.

So how was San Francisco overall? Rip Curl and the world’s best surfers put on a great show, despite the ever changing conditions. But… I think many (other than San Franciscans) would agree that it’s a venue that need not be revisited any time soon. If online polls are an accurate indication, fans want to see more of the flawless perfection of the 2006 Rip Curl Pro Search, when they took us “Somewhere in Mexico”. Wherever it ends up next year, all are looking forward to the excitement of a new location and a great show.

Adriano de Souza takes the Rip Curl Pro Portugal

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If the France event was the European Trestles, then the Rip Curl Pro Portugal was the European Pipeline. Deep, throaty barrels were on tap throughout the event, culminating in epic final day of competition. The trophy race turned into an endurance event on the final day, when event organizers and the surfers decided to power through the remainder of round three and run through to the finals.

Adriano de Souza stole the day, taking home his second event win of the year and a rare win over Kelly Slater in the final. This time around, Adriano’s win was without question and without the highest-scored-floater-in-history controversy that marred his win in Brazil. Interestingly, both of his 2011 wins took place in the only two Portuguese speaking countries on tour. Conspiracy theorists and anti-Brazilians are surely likely to vent about this co-ink-ee-dink.

Adriano’s road to Portuguese victory was paved with the blood and tears of the world’s best. He posted a square win over Kelly in the final (replete with an unrewarded mega-claim), knocked out Bede Durbidge in the semifinals, and ousted Michel Bourez in the quarters, locking in a 10 point ride to seal the deal.

So, what’s the net? Adriano bumps up in the rankings to third, Owen Wright stays squarely in second place and Portugal runner-up in chief, Kelly Slater, increases the height on his cat-bird seat. According to the numbers crunchers at the event, all Kelly needs is a ninth place finish or better at the Rip Curl Pro Search San Francisco to lock in his eleventh world title.

Just under two weeks to go until San Francisco kicks off. Catch your breath, juggle your Fantasy Surfer lineup and hit up the official Rip Curl Pro Portugal website to watch replays of every heat.

See you in San Francisco!

Gabriel Medina invades France and conquers all

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Did Gabriel Medina just raise the bar when he won the Quiksilver Pro France? Get ready to hear this question over and again following the 17 year old Brazilian’s stunning win and performance at the Quik Pro.

Gabriel didnt just raise the bar. He raised it, pushed it higher still, made it his bitch and pushed it higher again.

Gabriel destroyed hopes, dreams and all challengers on his quest for glory, but he didn’t start the event out that way.

In round one, Gabriel took a distant third to hear winner, Travis Logie, and runner up, Adriano de Souza. Not quite ready to exit just yet, he rebounded by ousting Dusty Payne in round two and then Bede Durbidge in round three.

Round four’s three-man format had Gabriel facing off against the king himself, Kelly Slater, and Ace Buchan. Gabriel and Kelly duked it out, while Ace apparently forgot he was supposed to actually catch waves. The champ and the kid posted insane rides and excellent scores, but Kelly managed to squeak by in the end with a 15.83 to Gabriel’s 15.80.

While Kelly slid straight through to the quarterfinals, Gabriel should have had a round five matchup with Jeremy Flores. As luck would have it, J Flo (in typical French fashion) surrendered bowed out due to injury just before his round five heat, granting Gabriel a free ride to the quarters. As a silver lining, the injury probably also saved Jeremy from a thorough thrashing.

The quarterfinals brought the big rematch. The in-form Gabriel drew an in-form Slater, but this time knocked him for a loop, throwing him out of sync and leaving him in combo-land.

In the semis, Gabriel drew the good old tour warhorse, Taylor Knox. Poor Taylor apparently missed the memo that he was in an air show. The elder surfsman stuck to his admirable ground game, but came up comboed as Gabriel continued to huck impossible airs. The kid came up just shy of a combined perfect 20, scoring a 9.57 and a 10.

For the final, Gabriel drew fellow youngster, Julian Wilson, who had been busy scalping heads on the other side of the bracket. Julian put on a little air clinic of his own, effortlessly sticking a 180 shoveit and other punts. Unfortunately, Gabriel went bigger, faster, and with more rotations, edging out the Aussie talent with a score of 17.00 to 16.10.

So was this a glitch in the matrix or a sign of things to come? Well… if you listen to Kelly Slater, it’s the latter. Kelly hath spoken and quickly rallied behind his usurper, declaring him a future multiple-world title winner.

If you missed even a second of the Quik Pro France, hit up the official website where you can catch every single heat on streaming video.

See you in Portugal!

What We Learned From The 2011 Hurley Pro at Trestles

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The 2011 Hurley Pro at Lower Trestles certainly didn’t fail to entertain. It also provided more tinder for the anti-ASP/anti-contest bonfire. All throughout, it offered up more excitement per heat than many other contests generate per day.

Here are a few things we learned from this event:

You can still win heats in the most progressive event on the planet on your ground game. Owen Wright pulled a damn near perfect score (9.77) and a heat win over John John Florence on the strength of a handful of backside off the tops. On a side note, Taylor Knox will still remain underappreciated and underscored for his ground game.

Owen Wright is the new golden child of the ASP. This was more than evident when O’Right won the better of several questionable calls. First it was his ground game win over John John, then it was the Julian Wilson interference call, and later, his split decision win over Mick Fanning. No one can argue that Owen isn’t one of the judges’ little darlings after his treatment at Lowers.

Kelly Slater still has it. Skill? He gots. Pay attention kiddies. When you grow up and put on your big boy pants, be sure to do those same airs and gouges with 150% commitment. That’s how babies are made contests are won.

The kids are alright. While more seasoned competitors took the day, the young’ins brought the excitement. Gabriel Medina, John John Florence and a few of the other kids on tour have compressed the learning curve and showed they are a force to be reckoned with.

“The Brazilians are back, more aggro than ever.” How sick was Heitor Alves? My friends have been praising him for years, but it wasn’t until this year that I went from being a Heitor-hater to drinking the Heitor-ade. I’m a fan.

Josh Kerr finally got the airshow recognition he always wanted. …. and he didn’t even have to compete outside of the tour. Kerrzy, please keep doing those airs that completely mindfuck the judges.

So there you are. It wasn’t the best Trestles and it wasn’t the worst. The tour is getting exciting again, the title race is far from over and the Quiksilver Pro France kicks off in a week. Life is good!

See you in France!

Excitement, Fighting and Scandal at the 2011 Hurley Pro at Trestles

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Tuesday set the stage for the final day of the 2011 Hurley Pro at Lower Trestles, with exciting performances, heated arguments and the second major overscore of the season.

As for performances, the boys were literally on fire, hucking airs and throwing down huge turns in the increasingly playful surf. Taj Burrow and Adriano De Souza looked like they were letting loose in their own backyard beachy. Kelly Slater and Owen Wright showed us exactly why they’re numbers one and two in the world, effortlessly stringing together high scoring maneuvers. Joel Parkinson stamped his claim as a frontrunner, letting Kelly and Owen know there’s still another horse in the race. Finally, John John Florence put on one of the best performances of the event, but had the great misfortune of facing off against the very in form and significantly overscored Owen Wright.

… Which brings us to the second big overscore scandal of the 2011 season. Owen Wright was trailing John John Florence in their round three matchup, needing a huge score to pull ahead in the closing minutes. A clean righthander swung through, Owen paddled in, did a few less than critical turns and the judges handed him a 9.77 and a ticket to round four. You can see the wave in the above video and while Owen’s surfing looks crisp and tight, he shouldn’t have been rewarded anything more than a high mid-range score. A 9.77 suggests Owen’s wave selection and performance were virtually flawless. It might have been one of the larger set waves of the heat, but Owen’s ground game was nothing exceptional and nothing you couldn’t see at your local beachy on a similar day. John John clearly owned the heat, but the judges obviously decided to keep Owen in the world title race, sacrificing the young Hawaiian in the process. Perhaps the judges felt justified in their latest farce after they screwed Owen earlier this year in Brazil, when they gave Adriano De Souza the highest scored floater in history to push him ahead of Owen. Though I love Owen’s surfing and wish him luck in the remainder of the event, I can’t help but feel that he should have been eliminated.

While Owen’s overscore sparked a number of arguments across the web, Adriano De Souza and Taj Burrow exchanged shouts over last minute hassling in their round four heat. Since round four is a throwaway round, no one really loses, but they still had a little paddle battle hassling spat at the end of their heat as they were duking it out to see who wins the direct ride to the quarterfinals. Making things even more interesting was the fact that the king himself, Kelly Slater got involved in the yelling as he paddled out for his own heat. Kelly looked vicious as he unleashed a torrent of shouts and splashes at the Brazilian contender. In his post heat interview, Adriano downplayed the whole episode, but it certainly made for some audience excitement to see a bit of real rivalry on the big love tour.

Check out the event website for a full recap of the third and fourth round action, photos, heat sheets and video highlights. And be sure to log in Wednesday morning to catch every minute of the final day of action.

2011 Hurley Pro at Trestles Starts Cutting Heads

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The 2011 Hurley Pro at Lower Trestles completed its second day of competition on Monday and began sending guys home. The new kids on tour and seasoned pros alike took to the air and flared tail at every turn, sending a dozen surfers packing as the event heads into round 3.

Making Lowers look like a playground, John Florence, Gabriel Medina and Jadson Andre stole the show with the highest heat totals of the day and huge spreads over their fellow competitors. Florence obliterated Alejo Muniz, while Medina destroyed Travis Logie and Jadson KO’d Dusty Payne.

Also packing their bags on Monday were wildcards Rob Machado and Connor Coffin; Aussies, Bede Durbidge, Dan Ross and ADam Melling; Brazilians, Miguel Pupo and Raoni Monteiro; Portugal’s Tiago Pires; and local boy, Patrick Gudauskas.

Check the official event website for photos, heat sheets and video highlights from round 1 and 2, and be sure to log in Tuesday to catch all the live action.

Balaram Stack’s Lucky Wildcard a Tough Draw

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Balaram Stack won the surfing lottery jackpot when he was gifted a spot in the main event of the Quiksilver Pro New York. As a top Quiksilver teamrider and a New Yorker, the gesture from Quik seemed an obvious one but was still a huge accomplishment given the impressive invite list for the trials. The wildcard, like a golden ticket, allowed Bal to leapfrog the closely contested trials to compete against the world’s best in his own backyard.

Wildcards often say, “I was stoked just to get the opportunity to be out there with the world’s best surfers.” Now there are the world’s best and there are the world’s best. In Balaram’s case, he was seeded in heats against the best of the best.

In his first round heat, Balaram had to face off against the 10 time world champ and current ratings leader, Kelly Slater. Dan Ross was also in their heat, but when you’re an up and comer with stars in your eyes and much less competitive surfing experience, Dan Ross is merely wallpaper and Slater is the guy who’s mindfucking you before you even get out of bed that morning.

As could/would/should be imagined, Slater looked like he was having fun out there dominating in the small conditions, Dan Ross posted a strong ground game and Balaram spent the heat watching the others build houses.

So a win over Kelly wasn’t to be, but at least Balaram got a second shot in round two. Right?

Wrong.

Bal had the great (mis)fortune of drawing the only other multiple world title winner on tour, Mick Fanning. And, unfortunately for Bal, round two was for keeps. Mick took the second win of the day over the starry-eyed kid, using his white lightening to knock him out of his hometown event.

Most guys would kill for a 30 minute session with a world champ. Balaram Stack had two. Not bad for a New Yorker who only celebrated his 20th birthday during the event. Other early exits might be down and out, but Bal lost twice yet still came out a winner.

Quiksilver Pro New York Goes Big(ger) for Rounds 3, 4 and 5

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The Quiksilver Pro New York logged another day of memorable performances on Thursday as the swell from Hurricane Katia filled in throughout the day. Plenty of heats were completed but the Kelly Slater-Josh Kerr-Jadson Andre matchup was easily the heat of the day.

Josh Kerr was definitely the day’s standout with his round four performance. Kerrzy put an abrupt stop to Kelly Slater’s total surf domination in their fourth round dustup, sticking a few massive airs including a shove-it and an insane full-rotation alley oop to post a combined heat total of 19.27 out of 20.

Slater put his own big punts in, throwing a giant full-rotation alley oop that he landed in the flats and managed to stick, but he couldn’t make up the spread that Kerr created before the buzzer. Jadson Andre, an aerial wiz in his own right, came to compete but only stayed for the show. He only managed to notch a third place finish in the heat while the Slater-Kerr show went down around him.

Kerr’s win landed him directly into the quarterfinals and, thanks to the second loser-round format, Kelly Slater and his fellow Jadson Andre, got to try their luck again in round five. Both fought their way to their own quarterfinal berths where Slater destroyed fellow Quik teamrider Jeremy Flores and Jadson took out fellow Brazilian, Adriano de Souza.

Beginning with rain, cold and a full roster of guys, Thursday closed with only 8 surfers still standing, ready to take on what should truly be world-class conditions come 7:00 am. Tune in to the official Quiksilver Pro New York website at first light so you don’t miss a single second of the action and be sure to check out the Kerr-Slater-Andre matchup and all of the days heats in the video recap section.

See you on the beach!