Down Under darkhorse Bede Durbidge (AUS) beat Slater in last year's final to join countrymen Joel Parkinson (AUS), Richard Lovett (AUS) and Luke Egan (AUS) on the roster of elite tour surfers to take it all the way at Lower Trestles.
"I'm just really excited to surf Trestles again and to go to California," current World No. 7 Durbidge said. "I really like it there and it's probably one of the funnest waves in the world. Doing well there last year just gives me that extra confidence to do well again because I know I have done it before. I'm really looking forward to the challenge."
Australian and Current World No. 2 Taj Burrow has not won the Boost Mobile Pro before, but he did feature in the 2003 final against Lovett. Burrow's aerial prowess is perfectly suited to Trestles' rippable conditions.
"I love Lowers, it's so good for letting loose," Burrow said. "If you have a good board and feel confident, it's the kind of wave you feel invincible on. It's so playful you can do anything you want. So my approach is to pick the perfect board for out there and start letting loose."
Burrow, who finished World Title runner-up in 1999 and 2002, knows he needs to take it to the next level to avoid another bridesmaid season on the Foster's ASP World Tour.
"I feel like in a way I've cracked the code to winning events a little easier, Burrow said. "I've never won two in one year, so having won two out of five events this year is a great confidence booster. For me to finish No. 1, I need to maintain that confidence."
Burrow won the last Foster's ASP World Tour event in Jeffreys Bay, South Africa as well as the Bells Beach, Australia event in April. The first event of the year was won by current ratings leader Mick Fanning (AUS), with whom Burrow shared the World No. 1 spot earlier this year.
Fanning has also been alluded by a Trestles triumph – a 2003 Semifinal berth being his best result at the venue."I really enjoy surfing the place and find I do well there – I haven't won that event yet but am really looking forward to it," Fanning said.
And Fanning's take on who the most daunting of his closest title contenders is:
"Kelly, Andy, Taj, Joel…They have all done well there so they are all threats."
Boost Mobile Pro of Surf Round 1 Match-Ups
Heat 1: Daniel Wills (AUS), Ben Dunn (AUS), Shaun Cansdell (AUS)
Heat 2: Bobby Martinez (USA), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Mark Occhilupo (AUS)
Heat 3: Dean Morrison (AUS), Luke Stedman (USA), Trent Munro (AUS)
Heat 4: Bede Durbidge (AUS), Adriano de Souza (BRA), Troy Brooks (AUS)
Heat 5: Damien Hobgood (USA), C.J. Hobgood (USA), Neco Padaratz (BRA)
Heat 6: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Fredrick Patacchia (HAW), Gabe Kling (USA)
Heat 7: Taj Burrow (AUS), Kai Otton (AUS), Luke Munro (AUS)
Heat 8: Mick Fanning (AUS), Chris Ward (USA), Dane Reynolds (USA)
Heat 9: Kelly Slater (USA), Pancho Sullivan (HAW), Rob Machado (USA)
Heat 10: Andy Irons (HAW), Cory Lopez (USA), Jordy Smith (ZAF)
Heat 11: Travis Logie (ZAF), Ricky Basnett (ZAF), Dayyan Neve (AUS)
Heat 12: Taylor Knox (USA), Phillip MacDonald (AUS), Victor Ribas (BRA)
Heat 13: Bruce Irons (HAW), Raoni Monteiro (BRA), Rodrigo Dornelles (BRA)
Heat 14: Jeremy Flores (FRA), Bernardo Miranda (BRA), Michael Lowe (AUS)
Heat 15: Michael Campbell (AUS), Greg Emslie (ZAF), Royden Bryson (ZAF)
Heat 16: Tom Whitaker (AUS), Leonardo Neves (BRA), Josh Kerr (AUS)