Prime events, such as the Nike 6.0 at Lowers, actually offer nearly as many points for competitors as World Tour events. This makes for stacked draws with an exciting mix of WT surfers competing directly against those hoping to take their place.
Historically, the skate-park peak at Lowers has been the place where those pushing the envelope have shined the most. Even with average surf forecasted for the event, it's highly likely that one of the world's best up-and-comers will upset the status quo.
The two most notable names competing for such an upset are Kolohe Andino and John Florence. Those two groms have all the moves at their disposal to make even the most seasoned ASP judge give them big scores. And their day is coming--but whether it's in this contest or not remains to be seen.
The big news this week, however, is the addition of Kelly Slater as a wildcard entry into the event. Kelly was late with his decision to surf Lowers and was lucky enough to be granted the wildcard--likely due to the fact that those in charge know that any event Kelly makes an appearance at sees an unbelievable jump in attendance on the beach, media attention, and webcast viewers. Since Kelly was given the wildcard, you can expect him to make a sincere effort to surf his best.
Nobody, (or no three surfers, that is) deserve to win at Lowers more than those from just down the street, the Brothers Gudauskas. If the swell were to pump, you would have to say the two bigger goofyfoots of the family, Dane and Tanner, would be lethal. And although they both still rip the smaller stuff, it is Pat’s vast repertoire above the lip that makes him my favorite to pull off the homebreak victory.
Lowers is an ideal wave to showcase the talents--and flaws--surfer has in his competitive game. This week, don't be surprised to see a few surfers you may not be familiar with taking down big names with big moves at risky times. Who do you think will win this year's event? Personally, I'm leaning toward the winner being someone in the under-25 crowd. And if I had to pick one surfer, I'd go with Kolohe Andino, who's poised to have his own John Florence-style coming out party at home.