Parko Ups The Ante At Lowers

Memo to the world: There’s more to surfing in California than the “Huntington Hop” and the associated wiggling that goes along with it-it’s called Lower Trestles. Finally there’s a contest in California where the best surfers in the world get to surf excellent waves and show the dedicated fans of California how the best in the business do it. While lacking the deep tubes of Fiji or Tahiti, Trestles can handle its own when compared to any break on the tour, and this year gave the WCT pros plenty to work with at the Boost Mobile Pro presented by Quiksilver.

In case you’re not familiar with Lowers, it’s located in a state park and protected from evil development-try as some scumbags may. There’re coyotes, raccoons, bobcats, deer, and endangered birds running amok, while native plants make it smell like a California Garden of Eden-truly a beautiful place.

It’s safe to say that Darren O’Rafferty is a big fan of Lowers after sharing a wave with a pod of dolphins during a heat against Taj Burrow. With Burrow dominating the heat, “Raff” paddled into an overhead right just as the dolphins did their patented underwater takeoff, and both parties ripped the wave all the way to the beach. The result was a nine-point ride that vaulted Raff into first place-a position he wouldn’t give up for the remainder of the heat. “The dolphins probably made the wave look even better, so they blessed me,” said an appreciative O’Rafferty. “I can’t believe I made it. This is the best thing to happen during my career-so stoked.”

Cool animal stories aside, the surfing was spectacular, especially the effort put forth by Joel Parkinson and Kelly Slater-the two finalists, and the most in-tune surfers of the entire event. Parko’s style, a by-product of endless Gold Coast rights, fits the long, somewhat mushy, rights at Lowers perfectly. In the final against Slater (who Parko has beaten the last four times they’ve faced each other), he belted his first wave so smoothly I was thinking he might get underscored-he just makes it look so easy that it’s conceivable judges would be unappreciative of his performance. But judges are on it nowadays, and Parko was rewarded to the tune of 30,000 dollars-not bad for a day of surfing good Lowers with one other guy out. After being carried up the beach by fellow Aussies Nathan Hedge and Troy Brooks, Parko reflected on the final: “I don’t know what to say. I was waiting for Slater to deliver his final blow. I had an eight, as well as a seven, but those are fairly weak scores these days-especially in a final with him (Slater). I kept trying to better my position but couldn’t, and then that wave came for Kelly at the end and I figured, ‘Well, two finals in two contests is all right.'” Fortunately for Parko, the wave Kelly got at the final buzzer didn’t offer up much, and the six-time world champ was unable to get past him. But perhaps Parko has a secret weapon-his baby daughter Evie. “The first two contests she’s been at I’ve made finals,” said the proud poppa. “Actually, she was in Monica’s tummy during Bells, so she’s been a good-luck charm, and I can’t wait to keep traveling with her.”-Justin Cotà‡

Quiksilver Pro France
An All-Irons Affair

The matchup everybody has been waiting for all year finally happened-Andy versus Bruce. If you have a brother who surfs, you already know the joy-and ruthlessness-that goes along with surfing siblings. I’ve shot my board at my brother, dunked him underwater, teased him to the point of rage, and snaked him every chance I’ve ever had-yet he’s still my favorite surfer in the world. The same can be said of Bruce and Andy. Maybe that’s why Andy is calling his victory at the Quiksilver Pro France the most special of his career. “I’m beside myself. Probably one of the most memorable wins of my whole life,” said the two-time champ. “To have my brother in it and be in the South of France with ten-foot waves was awesome. It was a dream day, and everything worked in my favor.” Not oonly was Andy beaming, but his whole family was watching online from Kaua’i. “I stayed up all night glued to the computer. That was a big day for the family,” said a proud Phil Irons. “It was impossible to sleep, the waves were so good.”

Ten-foot waves in France? That’s right, buddy. Or as they say in French, “Grandes vagues, monsieur!” (Big waves, man!) In fact, the waves were big enough to warrant jet-ski assisted returns to the peak, providing for a bunch of waves being ridden, instead of a bunch of paddling and duck-diving-a brilliant idea. For Bruce, this event marked his highest placing of the year, and while not entirely out of the woods, his requalification status is looking much better now that he’s sitting in the twenty-eighth spot. “I’ve had such a bad start to the year, so to do well here … I’m really stoked,” said the 23-year-old Kaua’i resident. “It was just like we were at home, which was cool. It seems like I got all my good waves in the semi, though, but to beat Kelly, with the kind of scores he usually gets-I was really happy,” continued Bruce, who scored the only perfect ten in the event in his heat against Kelly.Bruce and Andy weren’t the only Hawai’ians enjoying the island-style power. Big Sunny Garcia power hacked his way to a third-place finish-his best result of the year-and compared the surf to that of his old stomping grounds: “When I woke up this morning, I saw perfect waves-it was like Sunset.”

Finishing equal third with Sunny was Kelly Slater-his third third in a row at the same event. “One of the best days ever for surf at a contest in France,” said the six-time world champ. “Bruce had what might be the highest scoring heat of his career and was totally in sync out there. He went off, and there was nothing I could do. It’s good for him, as he needed a result to get back on tour,” he added.

France just provided the surfing world with one of its greatest moments ever, so what do you say we ease up on the Frenchies? No more “Freedom Fry” battle cries, and no more stupid “Boycott France” stickers. Back to the brie! Viva la France!-Justin Cote

Quiksilver Pro France Results
1) Andy Irons (HAW) $30,000
2) Bruce Irons (HAW) $16,000
3) Sunny Garcia (HAW), Kelly Slater (USA) $10,000
5) Peterson Rosa (BRA), Raoni Monteiro (BRA), Michael Lowe (AUS), Victor Ribas (BRA) $8,000

Official ASP Ratings After Quiksilver Pro France
1) Andy Irons (HAW) 7,236
2) Kelly Slater (USA) 6,192
3) CJ Hobgood (USA) 5,856
4) Joel Parkinson (AUS) 5,808
5) Nathan Hedge (AUS) 5,244
6) Luke Egan (AUS) 4,788
7) Damien Hobgood (USA) 4,680
8) Mark Occhilupo (AUS) 4,644
9) Jake Paterson (AUS), Danny Wills (AUS) 4,584 (tie)