(For complete Quicktime video click the links in the right hand column.)
Former three-time ASP World Champion Tom Curren showed he has lost little or no competitive savvy following his last second come-from-behind victory over Florida’s Shea Lopez in the Quiksilver Pro at Lower Trestles, the first stop on the Professional Surfing Tour of America’s first stop in 2001.
Curren’s win follows closely on the heals of his WQS victory in Panama just two months ago, and he said he has no intention of slowing down nearly 20 years after winning his first pro surfing event –at Lower Trestles.
“It’s great to be back, I really enjoyed my time here,” said the soft-spoken Curren. “The waves were good and it was a really fun contest. I’m really happy with my boards and my family is here supporting me. I still enjoy competing even after a long time. I look at it a little differently now, experience counts for a bit, fortunately for me — there’s so many good surfers nowadays, and it can be kind of intimidating to see a lot of the new maneuvers and the push coming from Australia and Brazil. So fortunately experience counts, and I’ve been inspired by the younger generation of surfers.”
In the Final, Lopez led Curren, Pat O’Connell (CA) and Jeff Deffenbaugh (CA) most of the way thanks to solid rides in the quickly improving 3′-4′ waves at “Lowers,” considered one of the best hotdog waves in the world.
After a few missed lip bash opportunities on smaller lefts, it appeared Curren’s run was about to be denied. But on a large set wave right, the former world champ connected a seemingly impossible series of sections, ending with a huge snap layback and scoring 7.25 positioning him firmly in second behind Lopez, whose quick start began to slow due to a lull and the decision to ride a few smaller inside rights. Meanwhile, O’Connell and Deffenbaugh tried their best to keep up — the diminutive O’Connell in particular was among the fastest surfers at Trestles this day.
With less than five minutes remaining in the 30-minute final, Curren broke off a solid left with big re-entries, getting a 7.25 and taking the lead from Lopez, who then needed a 7+ score. With one minute remaining, Lopez was able to pull ahead on the first wave of the final set, a long left he surfed as hard and vertical as possible. Behind that, the second wave of the set loomed up in front of Curren, who rode it to the beach with seconds to spare. The wave closed out on the inside and was not a clear heat winner, leading to an outcome so in doubt that even veteran pro surfing announcer Mike Morgan admitted the final was too close to call.
“I knew it was going to be very close with Shea, and with the set coming right there — I really had no idea what the final outcome would be,” recalled Curren.
Lopez agreed. “I think they said it was Curren’s last wave with ten seconds to go. I passed him, and then he passed me on the last one. He was out the back and got one more. I just kept getting waves and trying to surf hard, that’s all I could do.”
Winning the Quiksilver Aerial 2001 out of a field of nearly 80 entrants was Randy Welsh of Hawai’i. Finishing second was fellow Hawaiian Gavin Sutherland, followed by California’s Joe Crimo and Dave Post.
Luckily, the aerial finals enjoyed improving conditions, as an early morning onshore wind died and a filling tide made for some clean launching ramps and multiple airs on single waves. In the 30 minute final, 25 aerials were registered, which might be a record if they kept records like that.
Curren’s win capped a week of highly competitive conditions at Trestles, including Tuesday’s epic 3′-6′ hot and glassy waves, even as such top spots as Salt Creek and Oceanside were barely showing.
“The event was insane, it was everything we’ve been planning for,” said Quiksilver Director of Marketing Taylor Whisenand. “To see five days of great surf, and for it to glass off and clear up for a great final, and to have Curren win it with some world class competitors, it’s a great kickoff to the PSTA tour. It’s good incentive to get some money put into this on a bigger scale, to boost it up to a 4 Star (WQS Rating) or above. Quiksilver is proud to be a part of the Lower Trestles PSTA and we’re looking forward to holding the Quiksilver Pro here next year.”
Quiksilver Pro Lower Trestles Semi-Final – Heat 1
1st. Pat O’Connell (US) 17.25
2nd. Shea Lopez (US) 17.25
3rd. Ryan Simmons (US) 13.90
4th. Dean Randazzo (US) 10.00
Quiksilver Pro Lower Trestles Semi-Final – Heat 2
1st. Tom Curren (US) 22.80
2nd. Jeff Deffenbaugh (US) 20.85
3rd. Fred Patacchia (HA) 20.15
4th. Bron Huessenstamm (US) 17.25
Quiksilver Pro Lower Trestles – Final 1
1st. Tom Curren (US) 22.85
2nd. Shea Lopez (US) 22.65
3rd. Pat O’Connell (US) 21.10
4th. Jeff Deffenbaugh (US) 20.60
Quiksilver Aerial Pro 2001-Final
1st. Randy Welsh (HA) 18.75
2nd. Gavin Sutherland (HA) 17.40
3rd. Joe Crimo (US) 13.65
4th. Dave Post (US) 6.25