After an epic Hurley Pro at one of California's most iconic waves, here are five takeaways as the 2014 ASP World Championship Tour heads into the home stretch…
Stephanie Gilmore is back in the race
With all the accolades going out to Carissa Moore of late, five-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore reminded us during the Swatch Pro that's she's a contender for the 2014 title. The long rights on tap at Lowers were the perfect canvas to display her buttery smooth surfing, and with her win, she closed the gap between her and current women's No. 1, Sally Fitzgibbons. "I had a feeling that Sally and I would meet in the final, and I just wanted to get her back from Fiji because I had a really bad performance there," said Gilmore following her victory. "This win is a really definitive moment for me this year, I think. This event is really special, and to be able to compete here is fantastic. I can't believe I won. The world title race just got even harder and more exciting, so I'm looking forward to Europe." Can Gilmore make it six world titles? With the momentum following her win, you'd be a fool to bet against her.
About that venue
There's a reason that the peak at Lowers is usually packed with 60-plus surfers on any given day—it's an insanely rippable wave! The cobblestone-lined pointbreak lived up to its reputation as one of the best waves on the West Coast throughout the event as well—overhead surf poured through for three days in a row. With only two surfers out in pristine conditions, surf fans were privy to a clinic in how to surf Lower Trestles—just don't expect to get a wave to yourself now that the lineup is open again.
The John John Florence show
I know Jordy Smith was handed the check for first place, but the best surfer throughout the event in my mind was John John Florence. The 21-year-old prodigy from the North Shore of Oahu was simply mind-blowing every time he hit the water. Giant airs, fin throws, nose picks, and other futuristic moves may have been too much for the judges to handle, as the scoring in the final seemed wacky at best. Regardless, John John heads into the European leg of the tour on a roll and full of confidence. "Good job to Jordy; he's been surfing good all week. I'm so bummed. I hate coming that close to winning, but it's given me some confidence going in to the next event," said Florence in a post-final interview. With three events left, John John will look to finish strong and gun for a win in either France, Portugal, or his home turf at Pipeline.
A lot of folks were whining on social media that John John got ripped off, which is unfortunate because it takes away from Jordy Smith's dominating performance throughout the event. The big South African punished Lowers with his powerful brand of surfing and lived up to his billing as one of the top five surfers in the world. "I feel unbelievable," said Jordy Smith to the ASP following his win. "To be able to surf against the best surfer in the world at the moment is incredible. I started the heat really well but right toward to the end I started to think about everyone who's been supporting me, and it helped me nail that last wave. I knew I had to do something good. I'm over the moon—it's a dream of mine to win Trestles, especially after moving here," said the new San Clemente, California, resident. With his win, Jordy climbed up the ratings three spots to the No. 11 spot.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a world title race
Unless you're one of Gabriel Medina's ravenous fans, nobody wants to see a lopsided world title race. And after bowing out at the hands of Ace Buchan in the quarterfinals of the Hurley Pro, Medina lost a bit of ground to Kelly Slater as the tour heads toward the finish line. While he's still clearly in the driver's seat, Medina has to be looking over his shoulder as 42-year old-Kelly Slater chips away at his lead. How cool would a Slater versus Gabriel Medina clash be at the Pipe Masters?
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