After the fourth straight day incredible action at Lower Trestles, surfers, spectators and staff were all looking a bit shell shocked by day's end. With stakes getting higher every day there was a lot more tension in the air, too. Some of it was palpable, too, depending on how close you were sitting to the competitor's area.
The first heat of the morning between Kanoa Igarashi and Mick Fanning set the pace for day. And what a day it was for Igarashi. First he had the daunting task of beating Mick Fanning -- again -- at Trestles. After beating him in their Round Three on Wednesday, his win was nullified hours later due to a technical priority infraction that led to a re-surf.
That was a tough pill for Igarashi to swallow. After all, Fanning has won the Hurley Pro at Trestles twice, and has racked up more heat wins at Lower Trestles than anyone, except for Kelly Slater. Igarashi, meanwhile, has only won two of four Championship Tour heats at Trestles coming into the event this year. But Kanoa didn't blink. He got straight to work, and earned a commanding win over the 3x World Champion.
He wasn't done yet.
In the very next round the California Kid (who spent many a day surfing Trestles while growing up) cranked up the volume during a strong win over Julian Wilson, earning himself a trip to the Quarterfinals for the first time this season. It couldn't come at a better time. Igarashi entered the Hurley Pro ranked No. 28 on the Jeep Leaderboard, well below the qualification cutoff. Regardless of what happens during his next heat with Filipe Toledo, he'll be in a much better spot to secure his job for 2018.
Speaking of Toledo and Wilson, following their Round Four heat the two surfers exchanged heated words within the cozy confines of the competitors' area, tucked away from the curious crowd, but not beyond prying eyes and ears within the judging scaffold. Apparently, Toledo took exception to Jules choosing not to go on a wave the Brazilian thought he should have.
As usual, it was all but a tempest in a teapot for World Champion John John Florence, who couldn't be bothered by the tension in the air. Florence is a true believer in respecting his elders, as most Hawaiians are. That's especially true when it comes to his friend Bede Durbidge, who was a huge part of Florence's World Title run last year.
Durbidge, you might recall, sat out most of last season due to a broken pelvis. Once he was walking again, John John put Bede to work in the hopes of refining his competitive strategy, and their project worked pretty dang well. Florence captured his first World Title and the Triple Crown.
But this year Bede is back... and in a big way. Durbidge lit Trestles up on Wednesday with an impressive win over rookie Joan Duru. The big Australian is ranked No. 22 on the Jeep Leaderboard, and while he's not worried about requalifying (he's retiring at the end of the season) there's some pride at stake in this, his farewell to Trestles.
John John, of course, absorbed Bede's lessons well... maybe a bit too well for Bede's liking today, because he showed absolutely no mercy for his buddy once the jersey was on in their Round Five heat. In his own way, Bede was ultimately a victim of his own success today.
Carrying on the theme of the day, Adriano de Souza and Ace Buchan tussled to start their Quarterfinal heat. De Souza held the inside position as a set wave stood up, only to back off while Ace scratched but was unable to get into the wave. Frustrated, Ace threw his hands in air looking for a definitive priority call. His pleading fell on deaf ears, however.
It was the second afternoon in a row where a paddle battle tested the newly implemented priority rule, the same rule that forced the Fanning vs. Igarashi re-surf. Neither surfer budged for the next 10 minutes. The judges looked kindly on the pair, however, ordering a heat re-start, much to the chagrin of analyst Martin Potter, who felt they had missed opportunities to catch a wave to start the heat. Nevertheless, Buchan was ultimately able to get the best of their opening exchange. Later, De Souza mounted a determined last-minute charge, but in the end, was unable to turn the heat.
The second Quarterfinal was a Clash of the Titans, featuring two of the biggest He-Men on the Tour -- Jeep Leader Jordy Smith and Frederico Morais. A rookie on Tour, Morais is ranked No. 14 and has claimed a number of highly-seeded scalps already this year. And for the better part of their heat, Smith's brown mop was looking in dire straights. But the man in the yellow jersey clenched his teeth, went on the attack and stamped his authority on what may become a career-defining moment. The judges rewarded him with a 9.43.
After his heat-turning ride, Smith paddled straight back out and sat directly in front of Morais for a few moments, then skulked around the man from Cascais, only to finally settle in on his right hip pocket to slam the door on the heat. Testy, indeed.
Be sure to check back in tomorrow for an exciting Finals Day of the Hurley Pro Trestles and Swatch Pro at 7:30a.m. (PDT).
Hurley Pro Remaining Round 3 (H9) Result:
Heat 9: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 13.26 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 6.73
Hurley Pro Round 4 (H3-4) Results:
Heat 3: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 15.94, John John Florence (HAW) 15.23, Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 11.33
Heat 4: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 16.13, Julian Wilson (AUS) 14.00, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 13.16
Hurley Pro Round 5 Results:
Heat 1: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 16.27 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 14.84
Heat 2: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13.43 def. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 6.84
Heat 3: John John Florence (HAW) 18.40 def. Bede Durbidge 14.54
Heat 4: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 17.00 def. Julian Wilson (AUS) 15.90
Hurley Pro Quarterfinal Results:
QF 1: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 15.57 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 15.30
QF 2: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 17.76 def. Frederico Morais (PRT) 16.60
Hurley Pro Remaining Quarterfinal Match-Ups:
QF 3: Jeremy Flores (FRA) vs. John John Florence (HAW)
QF 4: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Kanoa Igarashi (USA)