LOWER TRESTLES, California/USA (Wednesday, September 14, 2011) – The Hurley Pro at Trestles, Event No. 7 of 11 on the 2011 ASP World Title season, is set to commence this weekend with the world’s best surfers descending upon the jewel of Southern California surf venues, Lower Trestles.
The Hurley Pro at Trestles will reconvene this season’s red-hot ASP World Title race on the heels of historic events in Tahiti and New York where this year’s frontrunners have already begun to distinguish themselves.
Kelly Slater (USA), 39, reigning 10-time ASP World Champion and defending Hurley Pro at Trestles winner, started 2011 with mixed results, winning the opening event of the year before posting relatively an uncharacteristic Equal 13th in Brazil and missing South Africa altogether. However, the past two weeks have seen two consecutive Finals from the iconic Floridian, including a win in Tahiti, and an ascent to the No. 1 spot on then ASP World Title rankings.
“Of course when that opportunity (the ASP World Title) arises, you don’t pass it up,” Slater said. “I fight focusing and competing for all these years in my head, but when I’m there, I know what to do and a title chance is obviously a good goal.”
While Slater is coming off of back-to-back elite tour Finals, it bears mentioning that both appearances were face-offs against young Australian standout Owen Wright (AUS), 21, with Wright taking out the event in New York and moving into Slater’s rearview mirror as the current ASP World No. 2.
“Owen (Wright) is the toughest guy in my opinion given the venues we’re facing,” Slater said. “That might be a big call to some, but having just won and probably should/could have won in Brazil and how things are shaping up, he’s the most well-rounded and confident competitor to deal with. He’s got a good head on his shoulders and I don’t think it (the ASP World Title Race) is an unwelcome pressure for him.”
Last Friday, Wright took out the richest event in surfing history in New York, claiming the US $300,000 first prize. Coming off of his East Coast win against Slater, and his penchant for hi-fi ripping at venues like Lower Trestles, Wright descends upon the Hurley Pro at Trestles as one of the most dangerous men in surfing.
“My confidence level would definitely be at a all time high for myself,” Wright said. “I’m happy to have my first win in a WT event leading into the back half of the year. I was just as stoked after Tahiti as well because of how good the waves we had there. The way I look at it is that I’m in a great position and have a great opportunity. I’ve been working hard with my coach Dean and we are starting to get some results. We didn’t think we would be in this position, but it’s where we are at and we are not going to stop working hard to achieve what I want to achieve.”
In addition to this year’s battle between Slater and Wright, the two met time and again at the Hurley Pro at Trestles in 2010. Wright got the better of Slater in the non-elimination three-man Round 4, but it was Slater who ended the Australian’s run in the Quarterfinals.
“Last year, Trestles was a strong point for me although I ended up losing to Kelly (Slater),” Wright said. “But I found a bit of form from the contest and I’m looking forward to competing in one of the most high-performance venues on the tour. I’m excited about this back half of the year knowing that it was where my best results came from last season. Portugal has been an event I’ve really enjoyed with some wild surf that reminds me of where I grew up. Pipe is always going to be one of my favorites, I hope it’s big!”
Jordy Smith (ZAF), 23, current No. 4 on the 2011 ASP World Title Rankings, was absent from the last event in New York after a severe injury suffered in Tahiti relegated the powerful natural-footer to the sidelines. At time of writing, Smith is “day-to-day” on whether or not he will be healed in time for the Hurley Pro at Trestles.
Following the last event in New York, the ASP activated the first incarnation of the midyear rotation, where the ASP Top 34 are updated with the current top 32 surfers on the ASP World Rankings (plus two surfer wildcards). Joining the elite ranks for the remainders of the season will be Gabriel Medina (BRA), 17, Miguel Pupo (BRA), 19, and John John Florence (HAW), 18.
“Those guys are all sick and they’re going to stir things up for sure,” Slater said. “People would have a hard time arguing that anyone else falling out would be more exciting at Lowers.”
Surfline, official forecasters for the Hurley Pro at Trestles, are calling for a series of small south-southwest to south swells for the first few days of the waiting period for very contestable surf.
The Hurley Pro at Trestles will be webcast LIVE via http://www.hurley.com/hurleypro/ from September 18 through 24, 2011.