Just when you thought you knew how to pick your team for Trestles, you take a glance back to 2016's results. Do Tanner Guduaskas, Brett Simpson and Alex Ribero ring a bell? What seems like a no-brainer usually isn't and there are few "sure things" when it comes to these famous cobblestones.
As of now, and for the first time this season, the forecast looks below average. Sure it's Lowers and it doesn't take much more than a 1.5 foot swell to produce the juice, but the smaller conditions might come into play when choosing your fantasy team. There is some hope, too, for fun surf toward the end of the waiting period.
It's hard to talk about Trestles without speaking of The King, Kelly Slater. Sixteen total events surfed, with 13 Quarterfinal appearances and six wins. It's ridiculous what this man has done at Southern California's most rippable peak over his career. You will be sorely missed, Kelly.
Luckily for us though, the torch might have already been passed. Jordy Smith has turned on the heat. Over the past five years he hasn't missed the Quarterfinals and owns two wins, which might have been three had he not missed 2015 with an injury. This really feels like the year Jordy could take home a Title. But if he wants to run the Jeep Leaders' jersey into Europe, he'll have to get on his grind to get that 6'2 frame moving at smallish Lowers. Stats-wise, Jordy can lean on his 2nd overall Heat Win Percentage here, which sits at 68 percent.
One man who's looked especially sharp in his pre-event freesurfs is Billabong Pro Tahiti champion, Julian Wilson. If you recall the last time Trestles' forecast was bleak, Julian turned in his best-ever result, finishing runner-up to Taj Burrow in 2013. His stat line here is nothing significant, only breaking into the top ten in one major statistical category. Julian owns seven Excellent Heats, but if his comeback win over Medina in Tahiti doesn't spark something inside, what else will?
Speaking of Medina, we're still in awe of what he did on his way to winning the Nike Lowers Pro QS in 2012 but so far it hasn't translated so smoothly onto the big stage at Trestles. Gabby has been solid, making a Semi and a Quarterfinal in two of the past three years but got edged out by local wildcard Tanner Gudauskas last year and has looked beatable at times. His Heat Win Percentage here is 10th on Tour (52 percent), which is five spots lower than his 5th place Average Heat Score of 14.88. This tells us he's leaving some meat left on the bone and could be expected to finally make the run that we know he's capable of.
If you're on Team Wilko, this may be the time of year you tone it back. His AHS is the worst here at 11.85, while his HWP sits at 24 percent. Wilko has surfed the Hurley Pro eight times without making it past Round Three. Definitely not the safest bet in Tier A but Lowers can be anyone's time to get hot.
Tier B is home to the most coveted pick in the entire event, Filipe Toledo. After moving to San Clemente from Brazil with his family in tow, it didn't take long for Filipe to feel right at home at Lowers. The last two events he's been knocked out for 3rd place finishes, but at 16.4, Toledo owns a 1.39 point advantage in AHS to the next-best surfer in the event (Mick Fanning's 15.01). He lays claim to 10 Excellent Heats in only five attempts. That's a clip only Kelly Slater can best. We can pretty much shut up about Toledo now as chances are he's starting on your team already.
Mick Fanning is the most accomplished surfer in this tier as a 2x champion and a 68 percent HWP. Unfortunately for Mick, his HWP for the season is down to 50 percent and after a year off, he might be a touch off in the motivation department. Still, Fanning at Lowers is a thing of beauty and you can expect him to be another favorite on a high percentage of rosters.
Another promising Aussie veteran here is Adrian Buchan. Of his 12 events at Trestles, all three of his Quarterfinal appearances have come in the past five years. If you're worried about his small-wave game, we watched him detonate a waist-high runner on Friday morning that would've been an excellent score, considering the canvas.
How can we mention three other surfers in Tier B before touching on Kolohe Andino? It's starting to become Michel Bourez-esque in Tahiti. While Kolohe's worst ride here at age 12 was likely better than most humans will ever surf the break, he still owns as many Quarterfinal results in a Lowers CT as his hero, Clayton Kershaw. Zero. Trestles is an easy enough wave to diminish local knowledge to an extent, but it should still count for something. Especially if there are limited opportunities for quality scores, Kolohe will be up to the task.
Bede Durbidge is the only other surfer to carry a previous event win to his name but there's been some mild success from Tier B surfers like Jeremy Flores and Michel Bourez.
Connor O'Leary has a decent buffer in the Rookie of the Year race sitting in 10th on the rankings, but Frederico Morais (14th) and Joan Duru (16th) are within striking distance. Both have significantly higher AHS' than O'Leary, whose 12.35 points don't quite match his Top 10 HWP at 51.85 percent and may see him slide down a bit as the season wears on.
There are a number of notable threats in Tier C, and Lowers is one venue where this group has a chance to shake things up. Last year we saw wildcards Simpo and Tanner G each knock out Title contenders. This year that task lies with Evan Geiselman and former Vans US Open winner Hiroto Ohhara. Both have one previous Hurley Pro to their names, but neither managed a heat win. Will a few extra years of maturity be the difference?
Either way, there's plenty of potential out there for Tier C. Ethan Ewing can finally rest easy knowing he won't match 2008 Ricky Basnett or 2014 Raoni Monteiro as the only surfers in modern history to record winless seasons. Now that the monkey is off his back can he finally light things up?
Josh Kerr has been on a slump unseen since his early days on Tour. After parting with his longtime sponsor Rusty, you know he's sampled every shaper from SD to SB to figure out a magic board for Lowers. Kerr's reached the Quarterfinals here twice with a mid-range, 45 percent HWP. That experience hasn't helped much in events so far in 2017 but a quick stint on the QS might be the spark he needs.
And finally there's the young Quiksilver trio of Kanoa Igarashi, Leo Fioravanti and Zeke Lau. Each has had an odd successful showing this year but only Kanoa has been able to back himself up on the QS rankings. A Finals appearance would go a long way in the stress relief department for any or all of them.
The event will likely be on call for each day and your guess is as good as Kevin Wallis' as to when they will kick things off for men's or women's. Make sure to have your teams picked and edit later if necessary.