You wouldn't bet on a slightly overweight car salesman from Detroit to win American Ninja Warrior. He likely hasn't even looked at a gym in over a year and have you seen the wall of death on the final level? It just wouldn't be a smart call on your part. Mick Fanning, on the other hand, would’ve been a lot safer bet. Not to win American Ninja Warrior (although I'll go on record saying he’d definitely be a contender), but to win this year's Hurley Pro at Lower, Trestles - because he just did.
From day one, nobody looked quite as switched on as Mr. Michael Eugene at the cobblestone point. The speed, the precision, everything so sharp, and simply in tune as each wave fell to shards after every one of his careful dissections. Mick was the epitome of a well-oiled machine - and sure enough, that machine chugged itself all the way to victory.
The Final saw a perfectly staged battle between former world number 1 Adriano de Souza and number 2 Mick Fanning. We couldn’t have asked for a better pairing to add to the drama of this year’s World Title scramble - simply storybook by all means. But let's not forget the venue for this slugfest - Lowers. The place that’s constantly deemed as the "most high performance wave in the world", "the hotbed of progressive surfing", or “that wave I’ll never f**king surf again”. Yet, who were the star patrons of today’s series ender? Two of the tour's most notoriously conventional surfers.
Not to take anything away from their surfing, because it was outright amazing and an absolute joy to watch, but neither Mick nor Adriano have themselves a reputation for mind-blowing antics. Their pocketbooks don't contain an inverted full rotation and they can probably count on both hands how many times they've grabbed stalefish. But they still entertain, and more importantly, win in the process.
So let's remember that as much as we love seeing the most progressive surfing in the world (which we do), dynamic convention will always prevail. Progression holds a special place in the heart of pro surfing, but the kind of talent we saw today is the blood that pumps through the veins of this tour.
The World Title race this year has been wildly confusing to say the least, and as the season rounds the bend into the European homestretch, every heat bears just a little more weight than the last. Today’s Final between Mick and Adriano seemed the very literal bang of the starting gun as we look toward what will surely be an entertaining dash toward December. -Dayton Silva