SAN CLEMENTE, California (Sunday, September 13, 2009) Reigning nine-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (Cocoa Beach, CA), 37, dominated the opening day's proceedings at the Hurley Pro Trestles today, surfing a near-perfect 18.50 out of 20 heat total to start his campaign towards a repeat victory at the famed cobblestone pointbreak.
This year's Hurley Pro Trestles competitors have been increasingly motivated to claim a victory due to the increased $105,000 prize purse put up by the surfwear giant for the Hurley Pro Trestles winner.
Slater, who has a legendary record at Lower Trestles including three prior ASP Dream Tour wins at the Southern California gem, picked up where he left off after last year's victory and donated a powerful repertoire of maneuvers which were awarded handsomely by the judges, placing his fellow competitors in a combination situation within the first five minutes of the heat.
"I think those two waves were probably two of the best that broke all day," Slater said. "There haven't been too many rights all day, but I was able to grab a couple of really good ones to start out. I didn't think I was going to better a 9.00 out there so I came in and went for a board change to try something a little different towards the end of the heat."
Dane Reynolds (Ventura, CA), 24, utilized his impressive backhand attack on the steep lefthanders on offer at Lower Trestles this morning to post a solid 14.84 out of 20 heat total to advance directly through to Round 3. Reynolds relegated current ASP World No. 3 Adriano de Souza (Guaruja Sao Paulo, BRA), 24, and veteran surfer Phillip MacDonald (Cronulla, AUS), 30, to Round 2.
"It's not really that important to me to win the first round," Reynolds said. "I like to use the first round as a warm up because you can just surf your heat without all of the pressure of making it, but win or lose, it's not really that big of a deal I don't think. I don't know. I like to surf the first heat though and I guess winning does get you on a good roll."
Brett Simpson (Huntington Beach, CA), 24, turned heads once again at his second consecutive ASP World Tour appearance as a wildcard at Lower Trestles when claimed a Round 1 victory over perennial title contender Taj Burrow (Yallingup, AUS), 30, and veteran Dean Morrison (Coolangatta, AUS), 28, with progressive surfing in the day's tough conditions.
"It felt good to win that heat because there were some big names out there," Simpson said. " I know Taj is always going to put up a good fight and Dean is going to sit and wait with his guns out there and wait for the bombs and he's lethal. My goal is to stay busy and try some new-school maneuvers and try and get some scores."
Damien Hobgood (Satellite Beach, FL), 30, also negotiated his way through the tough early morning conditions on offer, directly advancing to Round 3 as well.
"The lefts are definitely better," Hobgood said. " I wasn't even thinking of going right unless it was just the craziest looking thing in the world. The wind is blowing from the south, so it's blowing straight into you on the rights. If you can wait for the second or third wave, they're better, but I wasn't on them, so I feel lucky to get through."
Also issuing a major upset today was former ASP Dream Tour standout Rob Machado (Cardiff, CA), 35, who is competing as a wildcard in the Hurley Pro Trestles, when earned an impressive last-minute score to eliminate Burrow from sudden-death Round 2 competition.
"Being a wildcard is tough," Machado said. " You've got to be on your game. These guys are so on their game that you've got to be way on your game. That was a tough heat. Taj (Burrow) surfs amazing out here, he surfs amazing everywhere, so I'm just stoked to make it through."
Current ASP World No. 2 C.J. Hobgood (Melbourne Beach, FL), 30, Bobby Martinez (Santa Barbara, CA), 27, local standout Chris Ward (San Clemente, CA), 30, Huntington Beach native Timmy Reyes (Huntington Beach, CA), 27, Taylor Knox (Carlsbad, CA), 38, and mainland America's only ASP Dream Tour rookie Nathaniel Curran (Oxnard, CA), 25, will all surf in Round 2 when competition resumes.
For all of the LIVE Hurley Pro Trestles action log on to www.hurley.com/hurleypro/