Like a pack of bloodthirsty hyenas carefully eyeing the remnants of another animal's kill, dozens of local San Clemente surfers bobbed in the Lowers lineup, readying themselves to pounce on the 3-foot glass-riddled peaks the moment the final horn signaled the end of the day's competition. You can't blame them for their impatience; it's never easy to watch from the sidelines as some of the best in the business hold a clinic on progressive surfing in your own backyard. And what a clinic it was.
As one of only two 6-star WQS events held in the United States this year, the opening day of the Nike 6.0 Lowers Pro began Tuesday morning with every surfer in the contest fighting tooth and nail for the valuable ratings points and prestige that follow a good showing at the long-heralded event. Although conditions in the early morning rounds were marred by a light onshore wind and meager swell, as the day wore on the surf morphed itself into near-stellar perfection with head-high sets filtering into the lineup, giving the later-day heats ample opportunity to show the world just what a skatepark Lowers can be.
Hawaii's Seabass Zietz—last year's Oakley Pro Junior champ— put on a blistering-yet-mathematical performance on the lefts that periodically marched into the lineup in his midday heat, setting a lofty example for the rest of the surfers in the event to follow.
"It was a little tricky surfing out there for my heat because I think 15 minutes or so went by in the beginning without a real set coming through," said Zietz. "That can be tough because you want to get a wave right off the bat, but you just have to be patient out there. And that's what I did today and I think it worked." Zietz's collected approach to his heat paid off as he threw down a combined score of 16.76, winning his heat in the process.
Tahiti's Michele "The Spartan" Bourez, earned his gritty moniker today by surfing a tough-as-nails heat in the afternoon glass-off conditions in what would be his first contest in the mainland USA. With what had to have been the most impressive showing of power surfing of the day, Bourez put his compacted and muscle-bound frame to good use, tearing through the peaks with enough raw aggression and fluid energy to make his scarlet-clad Laconic counterparts proud. He would go on to post the highest heat score of the day, an 18.77, and cement himself a reputation as the man to beat going into day two of the event.
In the end, there's no substitute for hometown knowledge, and that theory rang right as rain for San Clemente's own Chris Ward. Historically, you never know what you're going to get with Wardo, some events he'll look like the most spit-shined surfer in the comp, and other days…not so much. After watching Wardo throw down a litany of carves linked to airs in the final heat of the day, it was clear to all who watched that San Clemente's hometown hero brought his A-game to the Lowers Pro. In the heat, Wardo would put on a teeth-gritting show against a very in-form Joel Centeio in their round of 96 battle, but in the end would fall just short of taking the win. Wardo would still advance through the round with a second-place result.
With day one in the history books, we've got our eyes and ears keenly trained to day two's action. Stay tuned to Surfermag.com as we continue to bring you the goods daily from the Nike 6.0 Lowers Pro.
6.0 Lowers Pro Round of 96 Results: (1st and 2nd advance)
Heat 1: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 15.13, Che Stang (USA) 15.10, Kolohe Andino (USA) 12.73, Sterling Spencer (USA) 8.40
Heat 2: Micah Byrne (USA) 15.74, Dusty Payne (HAW) 12.53, Jean da Silva (BRA) 10.93, Paulo Moura (BRA) 9.17
Heat 3: Michel Bourez (PYF) 18.77, William Cardoso (BRA) 9.97, Roy Powers (HAW) 8.04, Alex Smith (HAW) 6.83
Heat 4: Joel Centeio (HAW) 15.23, Chris Ward (USA) 14.87, Jesse Merle-Jones (HAW) 12.46, Rudy Palmboom (ZAF) 9.90
6.0 Lowers Pro Round of 128 Results: (1st and 2nd advance)
Heat 1: Kolohe Andino (USA) 13.83, Paulo Moura (BRA) 13.10, Ezra Sitt (HAW) 5.98, Dean Randazzo (USA) 2.00
Heat 2: Micah Byrne (USA) 11.83, Alex Smith (HAW) 9.67, Kiron Jabour (HAW) 5.77, Nathan Carroll (HAW) 4.47
Heat 3: Jesse Merle-Jones (HAW) 12.33, Brandon Ragenovich (USA) 11.06, Miguel Pupo (BRA) 10.97, Shey Yates (USA) 6.84
Heat 4: Dylan Graves (PRI) 12.93, Mitchel Coleborn (AUS) 12.33, Chad Compton (USA) 11.04, Wesley de Souza (USA) 6.87
Heat 5: Evan Valiere (HAW) 13.90, Eric Geiselman (USA) 13.34, Shane Beschen (USA) 13.10, Dane Johnson (USA) 6.93
Heat 6: Casey Brown (HAW) 9.73, Federico Pilurzu (CRI) 9.17, Guilherme Ramalho (BRA) 3.87,
Heat 7: Kieran Horn (USA) 13.17, Teppei Tajima (JPN) 11.67, Devon Tresher (USA) 8.90, Sam Page (AUS) 7.93
Heat 8: Tomas Hermes (BRA) 16.40, Matt King (USA) 14.16, Mason Ho (HAW) 12.70, Gavin Beschen (HAW) 8.90
Heat 9: Brad Ettinger (USA) 16.33, Evan Geiselman (USA) 13.26, Noi Kaulukukui (USA) 12.50, Asher Nolan (USA) 12.16
Heat 10: Granger Larsen (HAW) 14.83, Charlie Brown (BRA) 13.17, Jason Shibata (HAW) 12.34, Richie Collins (USA) 6.24
Heat 11: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 16.76, Luke Cheadle (AUS) 12.10, Daniel Jones (HAW) 10.89, Adam Virs (USA) 6.60
Heat 12: Bruno Rodrigues (USA) 15.17, Rob Machado (USA) 13.56, Victor Ribas (BRA) 11.10, Shaun Burrell (USA) 7.90
Heat 13: Ola Eleogram (HAW) 14.16, Jason Miller (USA) 11.83, Kyle Knox (USA) 10.94, Charlie Carroll (HAW) 8.25
Heat 14: Parrish Byrne (AUS) 11.67, Ricky Whitlock (USA) 9.43, Gustavo Fernandes (BRA) 6.24, Pancho Sullivan (USA) 2.00
Heat 15: Luke Dorrington (AUS) 16.33, Jesse Heilman (USA) 12.17, Kevin Sullivan (USA) 8.80, Bud Freitas (USA) 6.80
Heat 16: Sean Moody (HAW) 12.50, Shea Lopez (USA) 10.27, Justin McBride (USA) 8.50, Tommy O'Brien (USA) 7.50