Jordy Smith © WSL/Kirstin
Jordy Smith (ZAF) secured his fifth Championship Tour win today, and his second at Lower Trestles, following an exciting match-up against 2012 WSL Champion Joel Parkinson (AUS). Smith, the 2014 event winner, eliminated Filipe Toledo (BRA) in the Semifinals before matching up against Parkinson. The result, his best of the season, sees him move up one place to fourth on the Jeep Leaderboard and puts him firmly in the World Title race.
“I’ve had a really good surfboard under my feet this event,” Smith said. “I came into the event with an open mind. I missed it last year when the waves were firing so I just wanted to come in and take it heat-by-heat. I’ve watched Joel [Parkinson] throughout my career and he’s one of my favorite surfers. I’m frothing and I’m over the moon.”
Smith, who looked composed and aggressive, took down Parkinson in the men’s Final with his explosive forehand surfing. The two former event winners went head-to-head, but it was Smith who edged the win by just 0.44 points. The South African unleashed a series of power hacks to earn a solid lead over Parkinson and put him in a combination halfway through the heat. Parkinson countered with a 6.93 and a critical 8.43. Without priority and three minutes on the clock, the Australian needed a 7.27 to take the win, but was not able to land the requirement.
Jordy Smith © WSL/Rowland
“If I can be in with a shot at the World Title this year then that will be great,” continued Smith. “Europe can go either way so I’m just going to try my hardest and see how it goes. I think my Round 4 match-up against Kelly [Slater] was the toughest, so facing him and Michel Bourez was always going to be difficult. Of course that Semifinal against Filipe was a big heat too.”
This event marks Parkinson’s best result of the year and his first Final appearance since the 2014 J-Bay Open where he also earned a runner-up finish. The 2004 Lowers Champion found his form once again, overcoming the in-form wildcard threat Tanner Gudauskas (USA) in a nail-biting Semifinal heat to earn a place against Smith. Parkinson now moves up eight places to sixth on the Jeep Leaderboard.
“I really fell in love with this wave and this town in 2004,” Parkinson said. “This year was another wonderful year at Trestles and I’m really happy to be back here and on the podium -- it feels really good. This event I was so motivated and really keen to notch a win up. The talent of surfing in this event is incredible and I have to give it to Jordy, he’s an amazing surfer and a top World Title contender.”
Tyler Wright (AUS) claimed her fourth Championship Tour victory of the season in an all-Australian Final against six-time WSL Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS). The win sees Wright retain the Jeep Leader Jersey, increase her lead on the rankings and move her even closer to claiming her first World Title. The result puts her more than 7,000 points ahead of her closest rival Courtney Conlogue (USA) heading into the next event on the CT, the Cascais Women’s Pro. Wright dispatched Laura Enever (AUS) in the Quarterfinals, Sage Erickson (USA) in the Semifinals before facing Gilmore and taking her 9th career CT win.
“It’s been quite a journey from this point last year and a lot has changed this season,” said Wright. “It’s all come together and I’m absolutely loving it. I knew I had to get on the better waves facing Steph [Gilmore] in the Final. Surfing against her as someone I look up to is great, she’s still one of my surfing idols and inspires me to go after things my way.”
The two finalists have shared nineteen head-to-head CT match-ups, with Wright taking her 8th win over Gilmore. Wright opened her account with an excellent 8.50 and 6.37 to put the heat on the six-time WSL Champion. Gilmore charged with a progressive grab-rail attempt to combat Wright, but was not scored high enough to escape the combination situation. With time winding down, Gilmore locked in a 6.00, but still needed an excellent 8.87. With two minutes left in the Final, a set provided Wright and Gilmore one last opportunity. Wright was able to improve her 6.37 with an excellent 8.63 and take the win over Gilmore, despite her near-perfect 9.13.
“I set out with a goal this year and that’s to win every heat and win every final and I’ll go into the next events with that same goal and that same attitude,” Wright continued. “I’ve put a lot of work in and have probably the best team in the world right now. I’m really looking forward to the next event but I’m going to stick with my game plan.”
“It’s the World Title and I think I just decided that I wanted to go for it,” Wright said. “As soon as I decided that, I’ve done everything I know how and I went out and learned what I didn’t know. I’ve been in World Title races before but it feels so much different, I feel so much more comfortable and confident. It’s just flowing for me and I just feel good. I’ve got so much love behind me.”
Gilmore, who posted the highest heat total of the Swatch Women’s Pro in Round 4, previously defeated reigning three-time WSL Champion Carissa Moore (HAW) in the Quarterfinals, Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) in the Semifinals before taking on Wright in the Final. Today marks a return to form for Gilmore and is the first time since April last year that she has made it out of the Quarterfinals. The runner-up finish sees the 2014 event winner move up from 7th to 5th place on the Jeep Leaderboard.
“I love this place and this wave so it’s really nice to come here and get a good result,” said Gilmore. “The World Title race is really heating up and it’s great to watch. Congrats to Tyler [Wright]! It’s so rippable here and such a fun wave. My goal is just to win an event this season. Since my injury I haven’t really put together a complete performance so we’ll see what happens heading into Europe and in Hawaii, which is a favorite.
“I was feeling really good, felt like my surfing was really good and Tyler was always going to be the toughest opponent in this event so of course it stings,” continued Gilmore. “I think any loss stings but it’s a great result. I’m happy about it and glad to move up the rankings a bit. I think this is great confidence building for me and I’ll move into Portugal feeling pretty good.”
Event standout Filipe Toledo (BRA) battled eventual winner Smith in the opening Semifinal. The Brazilian landed a massive air-reverse for an excellent 8.33 and strengthened his lead with a solid 6.17 on his backhand. Smith fired back with a series of innovative fin-drifts to garner a commanding 8.00 to counter Toledo, but still needed a 6.51 to regain control of the heat. The South African showcased his power surfing to score a near-perfect 9.23 and put the pressure back on the Brazilian. Toledo was not able to find the required score and will walk away with a 3rd place finish, equalling his best result of the season. Toledo was previously 17th on the Jeep Leaderboard and will now move up to 11th.
Stephanie Gilmore © WSL/Rowland
“I had a few mistakes in that heat,” Toledo said. “The one wave where Jordy [Smith] went right and I went left, I should’ve stayed out back for priority. I would’ve gotten the second wave of the set where he got the 8. I think that one mistake was it for me, but I’m happy with third place. It’s always a good feeling to be in the Finals Day, but of course I’d be more happy to be in the Final. It’s good points for me since I’m sitting low on the rankings so it’s a nice jump. I’m happy and can’t wait to go to France.”
San Clemente local Tanner Gudauskas (USA) was eliminated by event runner-up Parkinson in the second Semifinal. Both surfers battled for the advantage, but it was Parkinson that took the lead with an 8.00. With priority, Gudauskas was left waiting out the back needing a 6.94. Set waves coming through gave the wildcard the opportunity to use his vertical backhand snaps to meet the requirement, but he just fell short with a 6.27. Gudauskas was able to battle back to the takeoff zone to regain priority and try again on another set wave, however his score came in just 0.10 points under the requirement with a 6.83. Gudauskas, who is currently ranked 31st on the WSL Qualifying Series, will leave the event in Equal 3rd place following one of the best performances as a wildcard.
“It was an amazing feeling progressing through each round over the big guys,” said Gudauskas. “That heat was so fun and I was just excited to see how I was going to handle that pressure. My whole mantra this entire event has just been either make the heat or go down swinging with everything you have and I feel like that was kind of a testiment to that. I’m stoked and good on Parko [Joel Parkinson] -- he’s literally one of my favorite surfers and to have that heat with him at Lowers was as good as it gets. This has just been a really refreshing feeling of competition for me.”
California-native Sage Erickson (USA) was eliminated by eventual winner Wright in the Semifinals. Wright got to work with a 3.50 and a 6.17, while Erickson waited patiently to open her account. Erickson’s patience paid off as she secured an excellent 8.17 on her opening ride and backed that up with a solid 6.00 on her backhand. The Australian fought back with a powerful 8.43 to better her situation and force the American to find a 6.44 with less than ten minutes to go. Erickson was not able to find the wave and will leave the event with a 3rd place finish. Today’s Semifinal berth is Erickson’s best result of the season following Quarterfinal finishes at both the Roxy Pro Gold Coast and Vans US Open of Surfing. Erickson remains at 9th on the Jeep Leaderboard.
“It feels good to finish third, but I’m kind of annoyed at the same time,” said Erickson. “It’s been a lead-up, I’ve had two Quarterfinals this year and it felt good to best that out here -- especially being in California. Trestles is such a groomed wave that it gives you a chance to showcase your style, and your surfing, so I love that the girls get to show that. Coming up against Tyler [Wright], you can’t leave it that close. If you want to beat the No. 1 or No. 2 you have to do it super evidently. All-in-all I’m excited and ready for Europe. I tend to do really decent over there so I’m looking forward to just focusing on the CT and not so much the QS.”
Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) was defeated by eventual runner up Gilmore in her first-ever Semifinals appearance. Van Dijk dropped an excellent 8.17 to kick things off in Semifinal 2. The Australian kept busy with a 6.34 backup score, while Gilmore found a set out the back to earn near-perfect 9.50. Needing a strong second wave score, Gilmore locked in a 5.33 to control the heat. With ten minutes on the clock, Gilmore scored another incredible ride, a 9.10, to put Van Dijk in a combination situation. Van Dijk’s 3rd place finish is her best-ever Championship Tour result and sees her move up one place to 11th on the Jeep Leaderboard.
‘It feels amazing to get that Quarterfinal barrier out of my way,” said Van Dijk. “I was so hungry just then to make that Final. I made a couple of mistakes and I was pretty close. I just wanted to better my surfing and I’m stoked I got that 8, and I am just having a great time. I’m stoked to have had a great week and show what I can do. I really just want to keep it going into the next event.”
The next event on the 2016 Samsung Galaxy WSL Championship Tour will be the Cascais Women’s Pro, which will see the world’s best female surfers head to Portugal from September 24th to October 2nd.
Men’s Hurley Pro Final Results:
1 - Jordy Smith (ZAF) 15.80
2 - Joel Parkinson (AUS) 15.36
Men’s Hurley Pro Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 17.23 def. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 14.50
SF 2: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 14.43 def. Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 14.33
2016 WSL Jeep Leaderboard Top 5 (After Hurley Pro)
1. John John Florence (HAW) 41,650
2. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 37,450
3. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 36,500
4. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 35,200
5. Kelly Slater (USA) 29,650
Swatch Women’s Pro Final Results:
1 - Tyler Wright (AUS) 17.13
2- Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 15.13
Swatch Women’s Pro Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Tyler Wright (AUS) 14.60 def. Sage Erickson (USA) 14.17
SF 2: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 18.60 def. Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 14.60
2016 WSL Jeep Leaderboard Top 5 (After Swatch Women’s Pro):
1. Tyler Wright (AUS) 63,450
2. Courtney Conlogue (USA) 46,200
3. Carissa Moore (HAW) 42,500
4. Tatiana Weston-Webb 38,450
5. Stephanie Gilmore 37,300