LOWER TRESTLES, San Clemente, California (Wednesday, May 2, 2012) – The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) PRIME Nike Lowers Pro returned to the high-performance pointbreak of Lower Trestles in San Clemente, California in two-to-four foot waves today. In an event often dominated by aerials, today's action saw power-surfers earn the day's top scores amidst standout performances from an array of international competitors.
Taylor Knox (Carlsbad, CA), 40, has infamously struggled with wave-starved heats at Lower Trestles over the years and his Round 2 heat at the Nike Lowers Pro proved to be no different. In the dying minutes of the heat, a flurry of waves graced the Lowers lineup and Knox wasted little time, carving up the highest single-wave score of the day with his signature arcing turns of 9.57 out of 10 en route to his Round 2 victory.
"I have the most restarts in ASP history at this spot," Knox said. "I don't know how to explain it because I really love this wave and it doesn't want to love me back. I guess it loved me today. Luckily today it gave me something at the end."
Knox relied on his veteran experience to overtake prodigy John John Florence (HAW), 19, who advanced in second, but looks to the next generation for inspiration to improve his own game.
"I just go out there and stick to my own game plan," Knox said. "It's not like I'm going to pretend I'm going to out-air John John (Florence). He's an amazing surfer and going to have a long career. He's a phenomenal talent and it's good for me to learn. I learn a lot from those guys and I'm stoked they're around, they push me to be a better surfer too."
Michel Bourez (PYF), 26, slowly built momentum throughout his opening heat and eventually tore into two steep Lowers righthanders with an array of powerful turns to take the highest heat-total of the day, 17.87 out of 20.
Bourez, a top 10 finisher on last year's ASP World Championship Tour, admitted the four-man heats in Round 1 of the Nike Lowers Pro offer new challenges in comparison to the man-on-man heats he's grown accustomed to in ASP Top 34 competition.
"I didn't know what score I had, I was just trying to try out my boards and see what felt good," Bourez said. "When I heard I had a 9.2 and an 8.6 I knew I was in the lead and let the other surfers surf."
"It's always tough out there with four man heats," Bourez said. "It's kind of freaky because everyone is moving around and there are lefts and rights, so it's easy to get an interference. You really have to read the wave properly and make sure you don't get an interference."
Dane Reynolds (Ventura, CA), 26, who has taken a hiatus from full-time competition, set the pace for the day with his signature style of spontaneous power-carves and explosive aerials during the day's opening heat to take a commanding Round 1 win with at 17.36 out of 20 heat total.
"I'm really stoked to be able to compete here," Reynolds said. "I like this wave a lot and everybody gets to actually surf. It's an easy wave to surf and this year, I'm just choosing events where I really like the wave. This is definitely one of them."
Adrian Buchan (AUS), 29, found an early rhythm in his Round 1 bout, discovering several lefthanders that eventually saw the Australian put the field in a combination situation.
"It's really stop-start and Lowers is like that, even at the best of times," Buchan said. "I managed to find a couple of those steeper lefts and connect on a couple. I was having fun and when you get waves that steepen up on you, you're not thinking too much about scores, you're just trying to put as much into it as you can and it showed on the scoreboard."
Buchan, a standout on the ASP World Championship Tour, is hoping the Nike Lowers Pro will allow him to keep his competitive skills sharp between ASP World Title events and is aiming his sights on the final day of the prestigious San Clemente based event.
"It's good to maintain the momentum for sure," Buchan said. "I try and stay a little bit busy and for me, surfing heats and winning heats is the best preparation. I had a good Australian leg, sparing Bells, I didn't do as well as I would have liked there, but I had a great time and scored some fun waves, so I'm just trying to keep that going. This has developed into a pretty prestigious event over the last few years and I'd love to be here on the last day."
Patrick Gudauskas (San Clemente, CA), 26, started strong at his local break of Lower Trestles to take a dominant Round 1 win with powerful forehand surfing.
"I was stoked to get those waves early because it seemed to stop breaking for about 20 minutes," Gudauskas said. "I got that nice little victory lap at the end and I'm stoked to just get my feet in motion."
Gudauskas capitalized on his local advantage of the Lower Trestles lineup, but admits there is often additional pressure that comes along with competing at home.
"I think you put added pressure on yourself for sure when competing at home," Gudauskas said. "All of your friends and family are down here and you want to surf as well as you can. At the same time I like feeding off of that and it's so nice to be at home and surfing in your back yard. I don't feel much pressure this year, last year I did, but this year I'm not feeling pressured."
Mark Occhilupo (AUS), 45, 1999 ASP World Champion, marched to an equal 3rd place finish at the Australian ASP PRIME event at Margaret River, and his comeback continued today when he advanced out of Round 1 of the Nike Lowers Pro with his iconic backhand surfing.
"The result at Margaret's inspired me to do a few more events, for sure," Occhilupo said. "I couldn't be in the Triple Crown last year and now I'm on my way. You've got to be in the top 96 to get in and I'm on my way now. Hopefully I'll be able to get there. I've always missed competing since I've left the tour and I feel like I'm still surfing good, so I figure, 'why not?' In a few years time it will be all over, so I'm just making hay while the sun shines."
The Nike Lowers Pro holds a waiting period from May 1 through 5, 2012 and will be webcast LIVE at www.nikelowerspro.com
Nike Lowers Pro Round of 48 Results:
Heat 1: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 13.20, Tomas Hermes (BRA) 12.04, Billy Stairmand (NZL) 10.63, Tim Reyes (USA) 9.67
Heat 2: Sebastien Zietz (HAW) 14.40, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 14.30, Evan Geiselman (USA) 13.33, Gony Zubizarreta (ESP) 11.40
Heat 3: Nat Young (USA) 15.94, Glenn Hall (IRL) 12.26, Travis Logie (ZAF) 12.07, Marc Lacomare (FRA) 7.53
Heat 4: Taylor Knox (USA) 15.70, John John Florence (HAW) 14.30, Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) 14.17, Kai Barger (HAW) 6.62
Heat 5: Gabe Kling (USA) 15.80, C.J. Hobgood (USA) 15.00, Adrien Toyon (REU) 13.60, Jeffrey Lukasik (USA) 12.16
Heat 6: Cory Lopez (USA) 15.64, Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 12.87, Mitchel Coleborn (AUS) 10.67, Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 6.93
Nike Lowers Pro Round of 96 Results:
Heat 15: Dane Reynolds (USA) 17.36, Mitch Crews (AUS) 12.87, Kai Otton (AUS) 11.90, Filipe Toledo (BRA) 10.46
Heat 16: Brett Simpson (USA) 13.17, Granger Larsen (HAW) 11.06, Luke Davis (USA) 10.94, Masatoshi Ohno (JPN) 8.47
Heat 17: Heitor Alves (HAW) 16.17, Conner Coffin (USA) 13.40, Nic Muscroft (AUS) 11.36, Alain Riou (PYF) 9.37
Heat 18: Daniel Ross (AUS) 12.50, Jano Belo (BRA) 11.44, Roy Powers (HAW) 7.20, Yadin Nicol (AUS) 5.50
Heat 19: Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 15.44, Kiron Jabour (HAW) 13.00, Tim Boal (FRA) 10.74, Richard Christie (NZL)
Heat 20: Jay Thompson (AUS) 13.50, Alejo Muniz (BRA) 12.73, Shaun Joubert (ZAF) 12.37, Brian Toth (PRI) 12.20
Heat 21: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 16.93, Mark Occhilupo (AUS) 12.63, Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 11.90, Dylan Graves (PRI) 9.67
Heat 22: Nathan Yeomans (USA) 14.70, Blake Thornton (AUS) 12.90, Jack Freestone (AUS) 11.87, Adam Melling (AUS) 9.80
Heat 23: Tom Whitaker (AUS) 14.03, Hank Gaskell (HAW) 12.67, Willian Cardoso (BRA) 9.27, Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY) 7.24
Heat 24: Michel Bourez (PYF) 17.87, Romain Cloitre (FRA) 13.17, Mason Ho (HAW) 11.87, Koa Smith (HAW) 9.80