Stab’s Picks For The 2016 Hurley Pro, Lowers
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The WSL, somehow, seems to pull it off every time. Chopes was looking like it was going to be the worst it’s been since Occy won in early 2000’s. It ended up being insane, and the last day of surfing will go down in the record books. But, it could have just been the things that Kelly was doing. It was leaps and bounds ahead of John John or Gabs, and the question everyone has been asking is, can Kelly parlay that into Lowers and get another win? But more on that later. Now, the forecast for Lowers: It could be incredible with the hurricane that’s forming, or it could be waist to shoulder high if that Hurricane doesn’t materialise, in which case they’ll probably try and bang the event out pretty quickly. So with that, here’s who I think is going to be reign supreme at Lower Trestles in 2016.
Gabs breathes the rudders in last year’s quarters.
Whether it’s six feet and pumping rights or two foot running lefts, it’s going to be hard to beat Gabs. His backhand is the strongest on tour and his air game is the most radical, bar Filipe. He’s building momentum this year and with each event he looks stronger than the last. It could’ve quite easily been him in that finals against Kelly and maybe that would’ve been a good thing and John wouldn’t have gotten injured. It’s looking like this year is going to come down to John John and Gabs, and I’d probably be more inclined to bet on Gabs for the title if that’s the case.
If this swell doesn’t materialise it’s going to be hard to beat this guy. His surfing above the lip is the best in the world and he’s such an incredible competitor. These Brazilian guys seem to rise to the occasion when they have the whole family there and with Filipe living just down he road from Lowers, the force will be strong. Watch for Fil to hang wide on the right and wait for those waves that stretch out along the rocks and require down-the-line surfing – these are higher scoring waves because they’re a bit steeper.
Anyone see Jordy’s latest edit? A lot of the footage was older, but the footage from Lowers was all this year. Jordy is the best surfer out at Lowers every time he hits the water. His surfing matches the speed of the wave and it allows him to completely arc his carves. He also happens to be able to break the lip in half out there. Jordy has had a half decent year so far but at Chopes we finally saw luck change and those shitty heats start going his way. This is a powerful thing in pro surfing. Watch for a huge result from Jordy (and remember, he won this event in 2014).
I thought Mick retiring and just doing a few events was going to be him not taking it as seriously. I was wrong. Every time he puts on that jersey, he turns on. Maybe with his relaxed approach this year, things are just going his way, but the way he’s been surfing I can’t imagine him not making the semis or better. Mick took the honourable approach this year by surfing a few events to keep his seeding instead of taking a wildcard spot that every world champ is entitled to if they want some time off. It’ll be interesting to see if Mick’s riding the same piece of equipment from J-Bay…
John John and Kelly
I’m going to do these guys together because there’s a few scenarios that could play out. Firstly – and I feel like a piece of shit saying this, but – Kelly doesn’t surf good enough anymore to win Lowers if it’s under four feet. The young guys’ consistency of completing manoeuvres and big move count per wave is really tough to beat. Also, who knows what he will be riding? If it’s four to six foot and offshore, then he’s got as much chance as anyone. Now, John John. He’s usually in my picks no doubt, but there’s still a maybe above his name. John hurt his knee in the final of Tahiti and has been doing some serious physio to get it to a level where he can compete. If it’s small, John too might struggle with the big rotations, and with the fear of messing it up for the whole year, he might just pull out of this event.
Adriano De Souza
One of the best surfers out at Lowers, he’s had high results here and he’s kind of due for a result this year. Adriano’s rail game compliments Lowers and whenever the wave doesn’t allow any down time, he looks really good. His strength is going up and down, and if he can put himself on the good waves that do this he’ll look razor sharp. Adriano often gets overlooked because of the new breed of Brazilian surfers, but he’s still got the best rail game of them all.
Best Rookie Result: Jack Freestone
If I was going to bet on Jack in one event for this year, Lowers would be it. Jack’s surfing fits the speed of the wave and he has all the above lip work required to get a big result. His backhand is good and he’s a smart competitor. It looks like Jack puts a lot of pressure on himself to perform at the events he’s expected to. For Brazil I picked Jack to get top honours between the rookies, and he did, but I also criticised his boards for being too small. I recently felt one of Jack’s boards and to my surprise they were really thick, like almost Jordy’s board thick. Now I think they might be too thick and sit on top of the water a bit much so when the rail dips it doesn’t sink enough to squirt water. His technique is flawless, but the water coming off the rail isn’t that impressive and that’s something that can be easily fixed. He should try one of Seabass’ boards, potato chips.
2016 Hurley Pro, Lowers Round 1 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Nat young (USA), Keanu Asing (HAW)
Heat 2: Julian Wilson (AUS), Kanoa Igarashi (USA), Ryan Callinan (AUS)
Heat 3: Adrian Buchan (AUS), Miguel Pupo (BRA), Kai Otton (AUS)
Heat 4: Gabriel Medina (BRA), Adam Melling (AUS), Alex Ribeiro (BRA)
Heat 5: Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Conner Coffin (USA), TBD
Heat 6: John John Florence (HAW), Davey Cathels (AUS), TBD
Heat 7: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Wiggolly Dantas (BRA), Matt Banting (AUS)
Heat 8: Kelly Slater (USA), Filipe Toledo (BRA), Jeremy Flores (FRA)
Heat 9: Italo Ferreira (BRA), Caio Ibelli (BRA), Jack Freestone (AUS)
Heat 10: Mick Fanning (AUS), Joel Parkinson (AUS), Jadson Andre (BRA)
Heat 11: Kolohe Andino (USA), Josh Kerr (AUS), Stu Kennedy (AUS)
Heat 12: Sebastian Zietz (HAW), Michel Bourez (PYF), Alejo Muniz (BRA)
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