Taj Burrow was in fine form to roar past San Clemente local Pat Gudauskas and World Tour wildcard Gabe Kling. Photo: Ellis

After getting a 33rd in Tahiti, Taj Burrow won his Round 1 heat with a total score of 16.10. Photo: Ellis

There are two types of breaks on tour that separate the phenomenal from the very talented; the large and life-threatening (Teahupoo and Pipeline), and the perfect rippable wall (Snapper and Lowers). When these waves are on, everyone strives to be phenomenal but in reality only a certain group of surfers have that kind of ability. The new judging criteria further separates the two, and as a result we're seeing fewer scores dropping in the excellent range (7.5 and above). In Round 1 of the Hurley Pro, with perfect right and left walls peeling down the cobblestones, only Taj, Jordy, Andy, Michel, and Jadson had heat totals in the excellent range, and only Jadson went to the air for his scores. The bottom line is this: catching a good wave shouldn’t be a reason for an excellent score, it should be a reason to perform well enough to deserve an excellent score. Today, the judges consistently reinforced that philosophy with a phenomenal performance from the tower. Expect everyone in the newly-minted top 34 to take note of today's scoring and adjust their surfing accordingly.

Coming off the emotional rollercoaster in Tahiti, the talk around the contest tower centered around the new tour format. And I have to admit that as much as it sucked kicking so many guys off tour after Teahupoo, the first round at Lowers showcased a much higher level of talent than the previous events have. And with the forecast calling for even better waves, the match-ups will only get heavier from here on out. Now it will be interesting to see how the three man heats in Round 4 will effect the flow of the event.

This searing cutback by Dane Reynolds helped earn him the highest heat score of the event so far. Photo: Ellis

From what I saw today the 10 surfers who looked the best to me were, in order: Dane, Jordy, Andy, Jadson, Taj, Kelly, Mick, Davo, Michel, and Adriano. Several others showed glimpses of putting it all together and I’m sure others will come back Thursday with a much better performance after having a few days to find that missing element.

Kelly Slater who put on a very professional performance in Round 1, has been the face of surfing in America for two decades. But Dane Reynolds, the only person capable of replacing Kelly, stole the show on day one with the highest heat score. In the first round, Dane rode 11 waves and it wasn't until waves nine and ten that he completed a wave and scored a couple mid-6's. But he treated his Round 2 heat against Kolohe Andino with a seriousness that we're not used to. He switched boards, had a warm up session before his heat, and was aggressive beyond his normal nonchalant self. The results spoke for themselves. On a couple average set waves, Dane was able to post the highest heat total of the event without ever going to the air. Not only is his aerial surfing untouchable, but so are his power hacks. Now if only he'd surf for 8's and 9's on every wave instead of 10's we'd have another world title contender in the mix.

With a new swell predicted to arrive Wednesday evening. Event organizers are expecting to get underway first thing on Thursday morning with the remainder of the second round.

Heat 1:Chris Davidson (AUS) 13.33, Dane Reynolds (USA) 12.94, Luke Munro (AUS) 10.33
Heat 2:Adriano de Souza (BRA) 14.50, Adam Melling (AUS) 14.46, Brett Simpson (USA) 13.83
Heat 3:Mick Fanning (AUS) 14.40, Taylor Knox (USA) 13.30, Travis Logie (ZAF) 13.04
Heat 4:Taj Burrow (AUS) 16.10, Gabe Kling (USA) 12.67, Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 11.70
Heat 5:Jordy Smith (ZAF) 15.16, Rob Machado (USA) 11.47, Kai Otton (AUS) 9.67
Heat 6:Kelly Slater (USA) 13.27, Luke Stedman (AUS) 10.10, Kolohe Andino (USA) 8.43
Heat 7:Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 13.50, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 13.26, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 12.93
Heat 8:Michel Bourez (PYF) 16.24, Daniel Ross (AUS) 15.23, Bobby Martinez (USA) 13.33
Heat 9:Jadson Andre (BRA) 17.03, C.J. Hobgood (USA) 11.46, Dusty Payne (HAW) 8.10
Heat 10:Andy Irons (HAW) 15.04, Tiago Pires (PRT) 12.57, Tom Whitaker (AUS) 5.23
Heat 11:Adrian Buchan (AUS) 14.47, Owen Wright (AUS) 13.66, Roy Powers (HAW) 8.50
Heat 12:Damien Hobgood (USA) 12.93, Kieren Perrow (AUS) 12.67, Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 11.26

Heat 1:Dane Reynolds (USA) 17.70 def. Kolohe Andino (USA) 11.10
Heat 2:Bede Durbidge (AUS) 12.33 def. Rob Machado (USA) 10.77
Heat 3:Gabe Kling (USA) 12.17 def. Bobby Martinez (USA) 11.44
Heat 4:C.J. Hobgood (USA) 12.16 def. Travis Logie (ZAF) 9.93
Heat 5:Brett Simpson (USA) 10.93 def. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 10.77

Heat 6:Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Luke Munro
Heat 7:Tiago Pires (PRT) vs. Daniel Ross (AUS)
Heat 8:Jeremy Flores (FRA) vs. Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 9:Adam Melling (AUS) vs. Tom Whitaker (AUS)
Heat 10:Taylor Knox (USA) vs. Roy Powers (HAW)
Heat 11:Patrick Gudauskas (USA) vs. Kieren Perrow (AUS)
Heat 12:Kai Otton (AUS) vs. Luke Stedman (AUS)