Defining destiny is a difficult task, but Filipe Toledo appears to have fulfilled his by finally winning theHurley Pro at Trestles. As the athlete many tout as the world's best high-performance surfer on the elite Championship Tour, his win at Lowers seemed preordained. "Finally," sighed Toledo after his win, "It's a really special moment, an incredible feeling!" The Brazilian had just knocked off the current No. 1-ranked surfer and the reigning Hurley Pro champ in one fell swoop.
Flat gray skies and oily glass provide a challenging landscape for competitors looking to pick the eyes out of a declining south swell and dropping tide. When the waves came they were very much in the fun 3- to 4-foot zone and neatly tapered, yet it was frustratingly lully. And it seemed appropriate that the two standout performers all week -- along with John John Florence -- faced off in the Final.
The two San Clemente transplants, one from South Africa, the other from Brazil, unveiled disparate tactics in the Final.
Toledo chose to build his case with a pair of good lefts, but sank the dagger with a radically surfed righthand runner. "In all my heats, all the sets were super slow," he said. "I tried to keep busy, that was my strategy, keep busy and surf all my waves, and it worked. It feels amazing to be the only surfer to win two events so far."
Under the ever-present din of the Toledo Tea Kettle Whistle and the shrieks from a boisterous Brazilian fan club hanging on his every move, Toledo continued to build his scores from the get-go, twisting the screws on Smith, who had precious little time to waste.
Smith dropped anchor and waited for a larger set wave prior to his highest-scoring ride, a wicked 9.00. He dropped anchor out the back again following the nine, his only significant ride of the Final, hoping to find a set wave in the final 10 minutes. But Mother Nature would not oblige. With his 2nd-place finish, Smith will hold onto the Jeep Leaders' yellow jersey as the men's Tour heads to Europe.
Now ranked No. 7 on the Jeep Leaderboard, the win at Trestles will go a long way toward Toledo's World Title chances. It was an impressive rebound from the Billabong Pro Tahiti, where he earned his second 25th of the season, which unfortunately will count toward his final tally.
"It's a crazy run to the World Title," said an elated Toledo, "I just want to thank God and my family for their support, family is super important for me." Then added, almost as an afterthought, "Especially with the second baby coming soon."
An extra mouth to feed, that may be inspiration enough for him to make a ferocious charge toward his first World Title.
Hurley Pro Final Results:
1 - Filipe Toledo (BRA) 15.67
2 - Jordy Smith (ZAF) 9.80
Hurley Pro Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 14.33 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 10.17
SF 2: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 14.90 def. John John Florence (HAW) 12.66
Hurley Pro Remaining Quarterfinal Results:
QF 3: John John Florence (HAW) 14.84 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 13.80
QF 4: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 15.26 def. Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 11.10