Round Three of the Hurley Pro was a showstopper Tuesday at Lower Trestles. While there were plenty of key matches, nothing topped the battle between Owen Wright and the ASP’s newest rookie, John Florence.
In the end, Owen survived a huge challenge from the flaring Florence with some fireworks of his own. And with that, the last of the super-rookies were removed from the competition. All three in very painful fashion.
Owen started off with a few mid range scores, holding the lead until John John found his footing and blasted a series of air-reverses on zippery right-handers for a pair of well-deserved 8.5′s. Suddenly Owen was needing a 9.06 and staring down the barrel of a throw-away result, with five minutes to shake the nerves and drop a bomb.
The ocean cooperated, sending a solid one-wave set right to Owen, who was able to connect the dots with two massive inverted backsie turns and a floater. While it lacked the variety and flair of John John’s waves, it really seemed to tickle the judging panel’s pickles, as they gave it a near perfect 9.77 to take the heat from Florence. The debate about that score will likely never be settled.
Gabriel Medina suffered a similar, albeit less impressive, defeat this morning in heat five at the hands of Josh Kerr. The waves were a bit lully during this clash, with both surfers struggling to break into the “excellent” range on any of their scores, and both surfers lacking the aerial consistency that they are generally renowned for.
As the heat wound down to the 1 minute mark, Gabriel held the slight lead with a 5.5 and a 6.5, Josh needing a 6 with priority. Luckily for Kerrzy, a one wave set came right to him. He is on a brand new board after putting his foot through the tail of his favorite stick on his previous wave.
Noticeably shaky, Kerr tags a few turns, nothing spectacular, but he is able to keep momentum through the inside and uncork a frontside air-reverse to finish off with a 6.5 and Gabriel was forced to sit out the back and watch Josh walk up the rocks to sign autographs.
Miguel Pupo suffered possibly the most heartbreaking of the three deaths, in Round Two yesterday against fellow Brazzo Heitor Alves.
The heat started slowly, but would end in a shootout, with both surfers trading air reos and fist pumps. Heitor even threw out Jordy Smith’s ‘autograph-signing’ claim after what would be his winning wave.
The heat came down to the final exchange as Pupo held a 7.5 and a slight lead. Alves would unleash a series of turns capped with a rotating air reverse on a lumpy left for a 7.87, putting him in the lead. Pupo’s answer was basically the same as Heitor’s except for one small bobble between turns that would cost him the heat. Despite still launching and landing an air reo to finish the wave, he would get a 7.30, losing by 0.07.
You can watch all the heats here.
I guess the lesson here is that rookies have to pay their dues in the big leagues. Even though none of them made it out of the third round, they all put in great performances here and it took heroic performances to take them down. Thankfully France begins in less than two weeks, so the boys don’t have too much time to dwell on their misfortune before getting another chance to blow up.