SAN CLEMENTE, California/USA (Tuesday, September 5, 2017) - The world's best surfers have arrived in San Clemente, California for the Hurley Pro and Swatch Pro at Trestles. With the waiting period for Stops No. 7 and 8 of the Women's and Men's World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT) opening tomorrow and running through September 17, the 2017 World Title contenders are eager to surf the famed cobblestone break of Lower Trestles.
Current Jeep Leaderboard frontrunners and defending event winners Tyler Wright (AUS) and Jordy Smith (ZAF) are preparing to take on their competitors in Round 1. The CT rankings are extremely tight for this year's World Title races, and this event will be critical for Wright and Smith to each keep their lead on the elite tours.
2016 WSL Champion Wright will face 2016 WSL Rookie of the Year Keely Andrew (AUS) and event wildcard Macy Callaghan (AUS) in her first heat at the Swatch Pro.
"Being in the Jeep Leader Jersey at Trestles is a good position to be in," said Wright. "This part of the year is probably my favorite because it is so interesting and will pretty much tell you who will win in the next contests. I am excited about being in the position I am in now. To be in the Jeep Leader Jersey is my way of saying thank you to the people who have helped me get here and to the people that are continually teaching me to evolve my surfing. I am serious about winning another title. It is what we are all here to do."
Smith will be up against an in-form 2017 rookie Ian Gouveia (BRA) and wildcard threat Evan Geiselman (USA) in Round 1 Heat 6. The South African's powerful approach fits Lowers to near-perfection, but the two-time event winner will have to bring out his full arsenal against a hungry field that each have their advantages in the lineup.
"I'm pumped to be in the yellow Jeep Leader Jersey, it's the first time for me and I really enjoy this wave here," Smith said. "I've never been at the front like this. It's something new for me, but I'm just psyched for this opportunity and where surfing is at the moment. Everyone is pushing themselves and surfing's in a great place. I'm still chasing even though I'm in the front. It's a really tight-knit group and I think from here on out it's going to be the guy who's doing the best in the next four events, so for me it's just head down and keep chipping away. I think Lowers is consistent and it's a really high-performance wave so I can't wait."
On the women's side, Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) sits just behind Wright in the second position on the Jeep Leaderboard. The Australian earned a runner-up finish at this event in 2014 and is ready to take her first win at Lowers and the top spot on the rankings. Fitzgibbons will match-up against Coco Ho (HAW) and Bronte Macaulay (AUS) in Round 1.
"I am so stoked to be back at Lowers," said Fitzgibbons. "It really is the ultimate playground for California. I am excited to really express my surfing and have a great time. I am loving the challenge on the CT. The game of surfing is always changing and there are new motivations and thoughts about strategy and approach. You really do not know what is going to happen and it feels like my first year on Tour again. I feel like my surfing has really come a long way since I was previously in that No. 2 spot."
Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) currently sits in fourth on the Jeep Leaderboard after a strong start this year during the Australian leg. Recently, the six-time WSL Champion received an early elimination from the Vans US Open of Surfing and now looks to Trestles to revive her 2017 World Title Campaign. Given Gilmore's past results at this event, a runner-up finish in 2016 and a win in 2014 (the year of her sixth WSL Title), the Australian superstar is undoubtedly a favorite to take out this event.
"Lowers is one of the greatest waves in the world in my book," said Gilmore. "It is just so fun, playful and perfect. It is one of the world's greatest arenas for professional surfing because it lets every surfer showcase what they want to do on the wave. Lowers has been so good to me. I've won here before and made a Final last year. Lower Trestles shows every little imperfection in someone's surfing. It brings out the worst but it also brings out the best, and you have to surf at a new level and have to pay attention to those fine details. You have to be an entertainer. That is what this event is, you have to be the most entertaining surfer out there."
Courtney Conlogue (USA), Santa Ana local, is the hometown hero at this event. The current World No. 3 feels in great form after a break between events and is committed to performing throughout the Swatch Pro. A win here will mark Conlogue's first CT victory in her home state, but she will first need to defeat fellow Californian Lakey Peterson (USA) and Laura Enever (AUS) in Round 1.
"I've been surfing Lowers since I was six years old and this place is really special to me," Conlogue said. "We would come here on the weekends when I was growing up so I definitely have a great relationship with this wave. My focus is to surf and perform my best in every single heat. I've been working a lot during this break and I'm looking forward to putting my jersey back on."
Reigning Men's WSL Champion and current Men's No. 2 John John Florence (HAW) comes into the Hurley Pro with two equal 13th-place finishes already and faces off in a hefty Round 1 Heat 5 match-up against former Rookie of the Year Italo Ferreira (BRA) and dangerous wildcard Hiroto Ohhara (JPN). However, Florence's past performances here make him one to watch with his incredible aerial antics and powerful rail game to match his driven mindset.
"The waves have been really fun the last couple days even though the forecast said it was going to be smaller, so I'm super excited we'll probably have waves for the event," Florence said. "I've made the Finals here before and I feel like this event is such a cool one because it really suits a lot of guys' surfing on tour. If you do make the Finals of this one or win it, you're doing something right. It's probably the closest thing to a wave pool we have on tour -- it's just such a machine. The goal is to win the event, but it boils down to the smaller things that add up to the bigger picture and that's what I've been focusing on since I got here. It's such a close year and everyone's been on their game so it'll take something special to really get ahead moving into the last few events. The level of surfing is pretty insane right now, which makes it that much more exciting to see what happens next."
Current No. 5 on the Jeep Leaderboard Julian Wilson (AUS) is a former runner-up at this event in 2013 but hasn't done better than equal 13th since. However, Wilson comes into this year's event with plenty of momentum after winning the Billabong Tahiti Pro and will face a Brazilian duo of Caio Ibelli (BRA) and Jadson Andre (BRA) in Round 1 Heat 2.
"It was a little while between wins so it's really nice to get that winning feeling back and I'm happy to be here at Trestles again," Wilson said. "I've had some moments in the past out here where I feel like I've been a little more creative and gotten some good scores doing it, so I'll keep my mind open this week and look forward to the opportunities. I'm definitely back in the conversation coming off a great string of events after a pretty slow start to the year. I honestly feel like the Tour is at the strongest place it's ever been and I think that is reflected by the seven different winners we've had. This year makes it super exciting with every single heat having something to talk about so you have to bring your A-game more than ever at the moment."
Matt Wilkinson (AUS) already has a win of his own in 2017 at the Outerknown Fiji Pro, but is also counting an equal 13th result toward his Title campaign (he will drop his equal 25th place finish from Margaret River earlier this year). The goofyfooter's strong backhand attack make him one to watch on the rights of Lowers and is something he'll have to count on once more against the world's best. Wilkinson must start off his Trestles campaign in Round 1 Heat 4 against the powerful Bede Durbidge (AUS) and rookie Ethan Ewing (AUS), who's itching for his first real result of the season.
"It's crazy to have almost the whole Top 10 in the Title Race coming into the back end of the year and the Top 6 are real tight so to come into this event it might be time to double up on a win and hopefully that's me," Wilkinson said. "As a goofyfooter you have hold off the temptation of going left a little bit. It's one of the most rippable waves on tour and I think just keeping tempo on the waves is pretty key to hunting big scores out here. Last year I started so well then slowly just let it slip away but I definitely gave my best and learned a whole lot about myself. Now, being in that leading pack just makes me a little more hungry to get some more ground on people."
2017 Oi Rio Pro winner Adriano de Souza (BRA) adds to the stacked list of event winners in 2017 and currently sits at No. 6, in need of a result here at Lowers to propel him back into the conversation of a major World Title threat once more. The 2015 WSL Champion kicks off the match-ups at Lowers in Round 1 Heat 1 against fellow countrymen Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) and Miguel Pupo (BRA).
"Trestles for me is special because I lived down here a couple of years back and I have a great relationship with everyone here," De Souza said. "I have respect for the wave, the people, the place, so I feel comfortable. I think this is one of the most high-performance waves we have on the tour. It is a very tight group right now in the World Title race. The next three events will be really important for us to step up."
Surfline, official forecaster for the Hurley Pro at Trestles, are calling for:
The first few days of the waiting period look slow at this time with a small mix of southerly swells and local NW windswell. The second half of the waiting period looks a bit more promising with potential for fun size S swells and favorable conditions.
The Hurley Pro and Swatch Pro at Trestles will be broadcast LIVE via WorldSurfLeague.com, the WSL app and on Facebook LIVE via the WSL's Facebook page. Also check the local listings for coverage on CBS Sports Network in the U.S., Fox Sports in Australia, ESPN in Brazil, Sky NZ in New Zealand, SFR Sports in France and Portugal, Sport TV in Portugal and the EDGEsport Network.
For more information, check out WorldSurfLeague.com.
Hurley Pro Round 1 Match-Ups: Heat 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Wiggolly Dantas (BRA), Miguel Pupo (BRA) Heat 2: Julian Wilson (AUS), Caio Ibelli (BRA), Jadson Andre (BRA) Heat 3: Owen Wright (AUS), Jeremy Flores (FRA), Josh Kerr (AUS) Heat 4: Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Bede Durbidge (AUS), Ethan Ewing (AUS) Heat 5: John John Florence (HAW), Italo Ferreira (BRA), Hiroto Ohhara (JPN) Heat 6: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Ian Gouveia (BRA), Evan Geiselman (USA) Heat 7: Gabriel Medina (BRA), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Nat Young (USA) Heat 8: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Conner Coffin (USA), Stu Kennedy (AUS) Heat 9: Filipe Toledo (BRA), Joan Duru (FRA), Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) Heat 10: Connor O'Leary (AUS), Sebastian Zietz (HAW), Kanoa Igarashi (USA) Heat 11: Kolohe Andino (USA), Frederico Morais (PRT), Jack Freestone (AUS) Heat 12: Mick Fanning (AUS), Michel Bourez (PYF), Ezekiel Lau (HAW)
Swatch Pro Round 1 Match-Ups: Heat 1:Johanne Defay (FRA), Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW), Pauline Ado (FRA) Heat 2: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Carissa Moore (HAW), Silvana Lima (BRA) Heat 3: Tyler Wright (AUS), Keely Andrew (AUS), Macy Callaghan (AUS) Heat 4: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Coco Ho (HAW), Bronte Macaulay (AUS) Heat 5: Courtney Conlogue (USA), Lakey Peterson (USA), Laura Enever (AUS) Heat 6: Sage Erickson (USA), Nikki Van Dijk (AUS), Malia Manuel (HAW)