As we approach the middle of the second half of the season, the perennial frontrunners have emerged in the World Title race. Kelly Slater has stolen the ratings lead from the uber-consistent Mick Fanning after a second place finish in Tahiti. Given that Slater has won six Hurley Pros in the last eight years, he has a definite advantage heading into the event. Parko, smooth as ever, is not far behind in third place after his win at the inaugural Oakley Pro Bali. And don't forget Jordy! The in-form giant Saffa is still in the hunt, even after posting two disappointing results in the last two events. Fifth place Taj Burrow sits almost 15,000 points behind Slater. While mathematically he has a chance, Taj is realistically out of the race.
The only ASP World Tour event on Mainland American soil, the Hurley Pro allows surfers to show their full repertoire of maneuvers. The long right walls and shorter, punchier lefts make for some outstanding performances each year. This year looks better than ever with high-flying rookies Filipe Toledo, Sebastian Zietz, and Nat Young. Add local flyboy Kolohe Andino and Aussie aerialist Julian Wilson into the mix and you can expect some sick airs going down. Blistering rail turns from Slater, Fanning, Parko, and Jordy are bound to leave viewers stunned as well.
DANE - After a crazy social media battle with a relatively unknown East Coast surfer named Cam Richards, Dane secured enough online votes to receive the Wildcard slot to this years Hurley Pro. As usual, there's nobody that surf fans want to see more than Dane. He likes Trestles, and Trestles likes him. His mind-bending power hacks to air combos fit the right perfectly. Unfortunately, Dane injured his wrist a few days ago in Indo, and his status is uncertain at this point.
SLATER - Going into his "favorite event" Slater will be indeed hard to beat. Slater has made his infatuation with Trestles well known and has posted the results to match his claims. Although those results speak for themselves, Slater still feels like he has something to prove (lucky for us spectators), and needs a good result to solidify his ratings lead. Look for Kelly to be riding the same tiny boards (5'7" to 5'9") that took him to victory in OZ and Fiji as he continues to pursue his goal of having one board for all wave sizes and conditions.
PARKO - Joel has had a somewhat quiet year as reigning World Champ, and bounced back into the title race with that big win in Bali. The Coolie Kid will have a tougher time if the surf is small at Trestles, but if it's good, you can count on Parko delivering the most smooth and beautiful carves ever seen. He'll be in the final rounds for sure.
KOLOHE - Although his results don't show it, Kolohe Andino's surfing and personality have matured in the past 9 months. His surfing is top notch, but he's been unlucky in World Tour heats lately. On the other hand, he has killed it in Prime events like the US Open, and is currently in the quarterfinals of the Azores Pro. Being that the Hurley Pro is at his homebreak, Kolohe will have a heavy advantage. With his recent unlucky WT results, and his poor showings at previous Hurley Pros, I don't think he can handle another bad finish at his home spot. So, he's gonna come out guns-a-blazin' on those long rights.
JULIAN - Julian has the overall repertoire to win at Trestles. When you consider his rock-solid rail game and his world class aerial skills, it's easy to see that Jules can take it all if he gets on a roll. Julian would actually do better without the media circus that surrounds these events. He needs to be humble and let his surfing do the talking, instead of getting carried away with the fame.
John John - Since his ankle injury has healed, John John has posted a third, a ninth, and a fifth in a variety of conditions. It's not likely that JJF will get lower than a ninth for the rest of the year, and a win along the way is definitely in the cards. Trestles suits him well, so it's possible that we can witness another ground-breaking maneuver like his Bali Alley-Oop. Wouldn't that be grand? It's scary to think that he's just in the infancy of his career.
MITCH CREWS - What? Mitch Crews a standout? Yes indeed. Mitch has been surfing so hot in the Prime series events in similar surf, that it would be hard to count out the Aussie regular-foot. He kicked ass at the US Open, and is currently in the quarterfinals of the Azores Pro as of today. He can pull off the most difficult technical airs and has power for days. Watch for this guy to shake up the scene and cause a few upsets.
Watch the Hurley Pro LIVE on September 15th-21st!
Take a look back at last year's event in this video!
PAST HURLEY PRO AT TRESTLES WINNERS:
2011: Kelly Slater (USA)
2010: Kelly Slater (USA)
2009: Mick Fanning (AUS)
2008: Kelly Slater (USA)
2007: Kelly Slater (USA)
2006: Bede Durbidge (AUS)
2005: Kelly Slater (USA)
2004: Joel Parkinson (AUS)
2003: Richie Lovett (AUS)
2002: Luke Egan (AUS)
2001: Not held
2000: Andy Irons (HAW)
All photos courtesy ASP Imagery.