Nestled on a swath of protected land, Trestles is a surf sanctuary. With a rock bottom, the pride of San Clemente produces consistent, world-class waves at multiple breaks. After former President Richard Nixon signed a bill to ban development there, surfers flocked to the new mecca and it became known as a home for progression in the sport.
The 2015 Hurley Trestles Pro will be the 15th Championship Tour (CT) event at Lowers, the most hollow of the area's breaks. The contest has seen dozens of pros push the level of surfing on the spot's perfect faces. In 2012, Kelly Slater (USA) won there for the sixth time, marking the 50th event win of his career. The photos that follow feature him and the some of the others who have changed ideas of what's possible at the progressive break.
In 2002, Mick Campbell (AUS) finished runner-up in Trestles with it was the Boost Mobile Pro. Despite a strong performance in the Final, he was out-performed by then-World No. 8 Luke Egan (AUS), who clinched the title.
Richie Lovett defeated fellow Aussie Taj Burrow at the 2003 Boost Mobile Pro. It was an emotional win for Lovett and his first Final after eight years on Tour. "It's been a source of frustration for me the past six or seven years,â€ he said at the time. â€œI just hadnâ€™t been able to crack it, so to have everything fall into place today and to get the win, I canâ€™t even put it into words."
Slater holds the record for the most event wins at Trestles. But in 2004, he lost narrowly to Joel Parkinson, who at the time had never lost to Slater in a Final. "The opportunity was there for me but I just blew it," Slater said afterwards.
For much of his career, the late Andy Irons (HAW) was one of the few true threats to Slater's supremacy on Tour. In 2005 he had a strong start at the Boost Mobile Pro presented by Quiksilver, showing off his powerful carves. But Irons was ousted in the Quarterfinals that year and Slater, unsurprisingly, went on to win.
In 2006, Aussie Bede Durbidge had yet to make a big splash on the men's Tour. All of that changed at Lowers, where the young gun ousted one heavyweight after another to win the event (known that year as the Boost Mobile Pro Presented by Hurley).
Durbidge's win was all the more exciting because he topped the unstoppable Slater. "I knew the crowd was going to hype it up," Durbidge said of the Final, "and I knew that if he got anywhere near [a last wave], he was going to get it. I was just praying that no waves would come and it all happened for me."
Aussie beer Fosters was the 2006 men's CT sponsor, so when Durbidge won he was showered in it on his victory march. It was his first-ever win on the elite Tour and he jumped to 10th place in the rankings.
By 2007, Slater had eight World Titles under his belt and hardly needed to prove his global reign. But he won the Boost Mobile Pro at Trestles yet again, breaking the record for the most contest wins in the event's history.
2008 saw yet another jaw-dropping win from Slater. Trailing Taj Burrow (AUS) in the Final and needing an 8.93 with just two minutes left, the Champ pulled into a last wave and threw an air-reverse, a 360, a tail-slide and rode out a switch for good measure. Slater won -- again -- by mere tenths of a point. Pressed for a response after the event, Burrow told Surfing: "I donâ€™t even want to talk about it."
In 2009, Trestles saw the rise of Dane Reynolds (USA), whose style was practically made for the peaky break. Among the most innovative surfers of his generation, the Ventura, Calif., local took his big airs and imaginative maneuvers all the way to the Final for a spotlight on his signature approach.
In a rare display of fallibility, in 2009 Slater fell to Mick Fanning (AUS) in the Semifinals despite solid surfing throughout the event. "Some day you feel it and youâ€™re on and sometimes not," Slater said. "I kind of struggled through my first couple of heats anyhow."
Aussie Owen Wright (AUS) faced Slater in the Final at Lowers in 2011; it was their third Final faceoff in a row, a first in elite Tour history. At more than 6 feet tall, the young gun has power to spare and proved his progressive prowess with launches like this.
While progression is the game of surfing's youth, Slater's been among the pioneers. In the dying moments of his Final against Wright, the then-10-time World Champ showed yet again why he's dominated year after year.
And yet, Slater reigned: The 2012 event marked not only his sixth win at the break, but the 50th of his career. â€œIâ€™ve had so many good years at Lowers,â€ Slater told Transworld Surf. â€œI won my first event as a pro here, so it feels like a nice wrap-up.â€