The Hurley Pro at Trestles wrapped up in San Clemente, Calif., with South Africa’s Jordy Smith taking home his first win of 2014 in dramatic fashion, edging out Hawaiian standout John John Florence.
The four-day event kicked off with some exciting matchups. Florence would set the bar early on in Round 1, while Smith, who was coming off a rough showing in Tahiti, sought to prove his dominance. The two had key Round 1 wins. Top WCT surfer Gabriel Medina did not have the results in Round 1, falling to wildcard Carlos Munoz on a dramatic buzzer beater wave. Tanner Gaudauskas (USA) shook up the competition as well, grabbing a win over star Kelly Slater (USA)
Day 2 showed nice conditions, making for a formidable display of surfing. Medina had a tricky heat but pulled out a win in Heat 1 of Round 2 action, followed by top contenders Slater, Taj Burrow (AUS), Khloe Andino (HAW), Josh Kerr (AUS), Jadson Andre (BRA) Julian Wilson (AUS) with major heat wins.
The day also featured some hard-fought battles, as Miguel Pupo took on Andino. After numerous lead changes, Pupo held off Andino with an impressive floater. Despite last-chance attempts from Andino, it was Pupo who emerged with the victory.
The battles continued on Day 3, as highly anticipated matchups took place. In Heat 5 of Round 3, it was Smith and Wilson. Wilson, the 2013 Hurley Pro runner up, was hoping to claim another heat victory against Smith. The South African surfer had other plans, though. While Wilson produced a strong performance, it was Smith who used his priority wisely and held off the Australian standout.
Next was Medina vs. Munoz yet again. After coming off a Round 1 loss to Munoz, Medina came out charging and would defeat Munoz in Heat 2.
Going into Day 4, Medina faced with a tough challenge from Adrian Buchan (AUS), and the contest saw its first major upset, as Medina fell to Buchan.
“I didn’t want to play his game,” said Buchan. “I surfed my own heat and then controlled priority in the back half.”
For his part, Medina took the loss in stride, saying that he's already looking to training. “I just want to make heats, and be prepared for every heat,” said Medina. “It doesn’t matter against who, God said ‘I can do it.’ I’m still working on it and will train more.”
After the huge win for Buchan, he was set to face Jordy Smith in Semifinal action
Semifinals Heat 1: Jordy Smith vs. Adrian Buchan
Buchan came out strong with a six-pointer to put him up on the board. Smith answered back but couldn’t make it work as he fell off towards the end of the wave. As the event went on, though, Smith would get his rhythm going and his score increas. Despite a valiant attempt from Buchan, it was Smith who claimed the win, propelling him into the finals.
The second semifinal featured fiercely competitive young Hawaiian John John Florence against Kelly Slater.
Semifinals Heat 2: John John Florence vs. Kelly Slater
This was a highly matchup, following the two’s last meeting, in Tahiti, where Slater defeated Florence in semifinal action. With an early start, Slater was very cautious of what waves to select, but took the lead on a full rail-grab rotation, while Florence struggled on landings. Florence would eventually find his rhythm and footing and pulled off three consecutive airs to push him into the finals, knocking out Slater.
“I’m so stoked I got him this time,” said Florence. “He’s a scary dude to surf against.”
Finals: Jordy Smith vs. John John Florence
In the final matchup of the Hurley Pro, both Florence and Smith were coming in on full momentum. Smith did not waste any time, coming out fierce and ready, dropping a 9.33 in his opening wave. He would continue to grab scores. Florence came back with two huge scores of his own, back to back. His 8.60 and 7.27, left Smith with just 10 minutes to answer. The not-so-rattled Smith would come out in the final two minutes battling the white water and grab the crown on his last ride.
The next stop on the tour for the men will be stop number nine in France for the Quicksilver Pro set to take place September 25-October 6.