Action intensified as the Oakley Lowers Pro, the first World Surf League (WSL) 10,000-point Qualifying Series (QS) of the 2015 season, charged into Round 2 in waves from 3-to-5 feet (1-to-1.5 meter) at Lower Trestles.
Attracting a cross-section of elite Championship Tour (CT) surfers looking to secure positions among the world's best as well as a bevy of hungry up-and-coming talent. Eleven-time World Champion Kelly Slater (USA) has been competing professionally at Lower Trestles since 1990. The legendary naturalfooter's timeless power, progression and flow were on display as he capped off Round 1 with a commanding heat win.
"My first event here at Lower Trestles, the waves were perfect," Slater said. "It was my second week of my senior year of high school and it was a perfect week for me. I had a lot of fun. Things have changed a lot since then but this is a special place."
"All the heats are competitive at this point and with priority everyone gets chances with good waves," Simpson said. "I just want to surf well and be relaxed. I feel like I've been frustrated at times on the Tour and put a little too much pressure on myself."
Filipe Toledo (BRA), current World No. 3, continued to dazzle at Lower Trestles in Round 2. He hammered section after section on his backhand, stomping massive, full-rotation aerials and executing incredible combinations.
"The waves are so fun and I was freaking out and frothing to get out there and do my best," Toledo said. "I maybe made a couple of mistakes at the start, but settled into a rhythm soon."
Former CT surfer Tanner Gudauskas (USA) proved to be another local standout in Round 2 of competition, utilizing years of experience at the break to notch high scores on both his forehand and backhand. Gudauskas was advanced through alongside older brother Patrick, who finished second in the same Round 2 heat.
"With the priority system out there it's really fun and I got lucky with the waves," Gudauskas said. "These guys shred so it's lots of fun out there to see what's going to happen. I get really fired up going out in the water especially with everyone out here watching. There's so much history here and this event is a great springboard for those on the QS."
Not all went well for the local San Clemente contingent, however. CT surfer Kolohe Andino (USA) was ousted from competition after an impressive showing by Wade Carmichael (AUS). Carmichael's power-based approach on his forehand and backhand earned the young Australian an 18.40 two-wave total, the highest of the day.
"It's been a great trip to Southern California so far," Carmichael said. "I've been surfing a lot and have some good boards under my feet so I feel confident and ready. Lots of lefts leading up to that heat so I grabbed one earlier on but was fortunate to get a great righthander towards the end of the heat. Stoked to be into Round 3 and hopefully we keep getting fun waves."