I’d like to begin by thanking everyone that joined us this week. Whether you were physically on the beach at Lowers enjoying the perfect stretch of SoCal weather, or online for the webcast anchored by the larger-than-life Peter Mel, we were all able to walk away from this event knowing that it was truly one for the ages. Now for the action. You see, what you just witnessed was surf contest’s version 2.0. For roughly the past 20 years, surf contests have been held back by their own past. Unable to break from the age-old adage, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” events inched forward with their progression while the standard of surfing went through the roof.
Evidenced by the action at Lowers over the past week, the judges are making it painfully obvious that they want to see the cream rise to the top, and there is no better venue on Earth more suited for this than Lowers on a clean 4- to 6-foot swell. Offering huge scoring potential on either the right or the left, if you weren’t able to link multiple rail-burying carves or fin-flying lippers, there was little hope of scoring above the 5-point range. If those turns, however impressive, didn’t hold water against those performed by Andy Irons, then you weren’t staring at anything above a 7. End of story. The new criteria has forced everyone to grow wings, or in a few cases, open up their wings and demonstrate what they’ve been holding back. Every day, every heat, a new performance barrier was being shattered as—insert one of a dozen plus guys’ names here—were linking multiple big moves and aerial combinations all the way to the famed cobbles. Highlights of the best rides are still bouncing around in my head like memories of my favorite surf video. In one 30-minute heat alone, Jordy Smith put together enough clips for his own stellar video part. In another, the air combos John Florence seamlessly linked were big enough for him to bypass the name John John and become Johnny Boy, all in the course of a single wave.
As has become the status quo, there were quite a few groms who used the perfect lips at Lowers to show the world that they’re worthy of the hype. Kolohe Andino performed dynamically enough to post an 8.83 on one wave, and through multiple heats he managed to take down some very seasoned surfers with his eclectic mix of progressive and technical surfing. Along with Evan Geiselman and Gabriel Medina, these kids are going to make things extremely tough in the very near future for everyone on tour…even the much heralded rookie class already causing a stir on the WT. The new breed is never very far away.
Even with the focus squared away on progressive surfing and the new talent morphing the face of competition, in the end, it was eight proven WT competitors who fought their way into the quarterfinals. Showing that wherever the judges choose to place the emphasis on in the criteria, the best surfers in the world will adapt and rise to the top. With WT vets Chris Davidson and Gabe Kling slated together in the final, ironically enough, the main event proved to be a battle of fundamentals. It was a fluid mix of precision on beautiful set waves. It was spray-throwing combinations of top-turns, lip-blasts, and roundhouses—the very surfing that proves that no matter how far above the lip and technical surfing advances, the true benchmark of a great surfer is what he does while on the wave’s face. And at the end of the day, that surfer was Florida’s Gabe Kling.
Gabe’s win today was a testament to hard work, to putting your head down and fighting your way through the many challenges life presents you with. Today he fought right through Cory Lopez, Jordy Smith, Andy Irons, and Chris Davidson. This effort has put him in prime position to reclaim his spot on the WT, the same one that he lost to a questionable injury wildcard decision. Congrats, Gabe.
6.0 Lowers Pro Final Results:
1- Gabe Kling (USA) 16.50
2- Chris Davidson (AUS) 11.77
6.0 Lowers Pro Semifinals Results:
Heat 1: Chris Davidson (AUS) 14.93 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 14.53
Heat 2: Gabe Kling (USA) 12.86 def. Andy Irons (HAW) 12.64
6.0 Lowers Pro Quarterfinals Results:
Heat 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 16.27 def. Heitor Alves (BRA) 8.44
Heat 2: Chris Davidson (USA) 14.93 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 13.40
Heat 3: Andy Irons (HAW) 18.57 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 11.93
Heat 4: Gabe Kling (USA) 16.50 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 15.77
6.0 Lowers Pro Round of 16 Results:
Heat 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 13.77 def. Alejo Muniz (BRA) 13.33
Heat 2: Heitor Alves (BRA) 14.43 def. Nic Muscroft (AUS) 12.00
Heat 3: Chris Davidson (AUS) 13.06 def. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 7.50
Heat 4: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 13.90 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 12.17
Heat 5: Andy Irons (HAW) 13.33 def. Owen Wright (AUS) 12.60
Heat 6: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 13.94 def. John John Florence (HAW) 8.40
Heat 7: Gabe Kling (USA) 12.90 def. Cory Lopez (USA) 10.60
Heat 8: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 12.67 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 12.10
Oakley Pro Junior Final Results:
1- Andrew Doheny (USA) 17.10
2- Nat Young (USA) 15.40
3- Dylan Goodale (HAW) 14.17
4- Tyler Newton (HAW) 13.60
Oakley Pro Junior Semifinals Results:
Heat 1: Nat Young (USA) 17.33, Tyler Newton (HAW) 12.33, Evan Thompson (USA) 10.44, Conner Coffin (USA) 10.34
Heat 2: Dylan Goodale (HAW) 16.46, Andrew Doheny (USA) 14.84, Evan Geiselman (USA) 14.83, Kiron Jabour (HAW) 8.53