Lowers Pro Flares Up As Kai Barger Holds Down Oakley Pro Junior

Day four of the Nike 6.0 Lowers Pro bore witness to a full spectrum of conditions as Mother Nature hurled an order of shoulder to head-high sheet-glass sets to the competitors in the early morning rounds. Unfortunately, the utopic conditions wouldn't last long as an ill-timed spring squall marched towards the coast midday with a barrage of onshore winds. Blue skies or gray, rain or shine, there would be no stopping the Nike 6.0 Lowers Pro and Oakley Pro Junior.

With the Lowers Pro run in the morning, the opening heats of the day were easy on the eyes as the round of 16 donned their singlets to paddle out at picturesque Lowers. Opening the day with a fiery performance, Adriano De Souza surfed a ballistic heat, taking down Aussie Daniel Ross in a brutal victory. De Souza posted a 17.80 to Ross' 6.93. Had it been in other sport, the mercy rule would have gone into effect.

"I've been watching everybody surf today since I lost my heat this morning," said Evan Valiere, "but Adriano was surfing the best. He looked really, really good out there."

Since moving from Brazil to San Clemente in January, De Souza has been sharpening his knowledge of Lowers, surfing the peak on a regular basis.

De Souza wasn't the only surfer on a rampage today. Once again, San Clemente's hometown hero Nate Yeomans proved to be on a roll in his heat today as he edged out Dane Reynolds by a narrow two-point margin. Judging from the beach, Yeomans seems to have the entire town in his corner—couple that with his straight-up backhand attack and a fervent desire to win and you've got yourself a real contender. Definitely keep an eye out on Yeomans to make a do-or-die stand when he surfs against the 2001 World Champ, CJ Hobgood, in tomorrow's quarterfinal heat.

By the early afternoon, the last heats of the day for the Lowers Pro were completed and the groms took to the water for the Oakley Pro Junior. It might be the wave, and it might be the sheer talent of the kids these days, but there were a number of juniors surfing in the event that were on par to be winning 6-star 'QS heats. Among those looking particularly spit-shined was Maui's Kai Barger, the current World Junior Champ. Taking to the open-ended rights on his backhand with a fury, Barger surfed levels ahead of his counterparts and posted a very convincing win.

"I had a really good time surfing out there. I know the conditions aren't amazing and they're a little bit windy, but it's a lot less windy than where I'm from in Maui," said Barger, post-win. "Lowers is one of my favorite waves and I really hope I can keep on winning a few heats."
Another noteworthy Pro Junior performance went to the ever-charismatic Koa Smith of Kauai. Koa was the youngest surfer in his heat by a few years, but sill managed to sneak through to the next round by playing a virtual chess game with his competition. Opting to catch the smaller inside rights that lined up along the cobbles over the bigger, section-marked lefts, Koa took a second-place win to Albee Layer and will move onto the next round.

"I get so nervous watching Koa surf," said his older brother Alex who, along with Granger Larsen and Tonino Benson, was unable to be seeded into the event. "I just told him to go out there and not let anyone hassle him. He's so much younger than everyone else out there. I guess it looks like he listened to me."

We'll be crowning winners in both the Lowers Pro and the Pro Junior tomorrow. Stay tuned to Surfermag.com to see who makes history.