"What's the story of the day?" a friend asked today as the Hurley Pro wrapped up. I told him there wasn't much of a "story of the day" because it was only Day 1 and the tour's been on hiatus for five weeks; rather, what we saw was the beginning of a few possible storylines. It wasn't the kind of day that makes for big headlines. The waves on offera semi-junky, out-of-season northwest swellweren't all that spectacular, and all we did today was slog through Round 1, a nonelimination round. That said, there was plenty to talk about, and plenty to keep an eye on as things develop in the coming days. From where I was sitting on the beach, here are six juicy little tidbits:1. Kelly's Intent: If there was any question about where Kelly Slater's head was going in to Lowers, he promptly cast all doubts aside when he opened up his Round 1 heat with two nine-point rides. He tallied the highest single-wave score and the highest heat score of the day. Put it this way: After surfing for five minutes, Kelly could have gotten out of the water, had a breakfast burrito, high-fived Rob Machado, and still won every heat that paddled out. And just in case you were wondering about the board he was riding, he showed up with five different boards, but settled on a 5-10 quad (that obviously worked for him).
2. The Kids Are All Right: With guys like Dane Reynolds, Michel Bourez, Heitor Alves, Tim Boal and Jeremy Flores all advancing, it's becoming more and more apparent that the old guard might want to start looking for a pasture. If showing up and blowing up is the name of the game at Lowers, it means you have to have some kind of act above the lip. And for as good as guys like Phil MacDonald, Mick Campbell and Taylor Knox are, they don't necessarily have the exclamation point needed to drive the point home to the judges. Maybe I'm full of hot air, but it seemed to be a trend today.
3. Simply Put: There's $100,000 on the line for first. And while that's put a little spring in everybody's top turn, earlier this summer Brett Simpson won the U.S. Open and took home $100K for the effort. Surfing on a wild card in the Hurley Pro, based on his showing today, he looks pretty eager to add another 100 grand to his account.
4. Achilles' Heel: Joel Parkinson says his ankle's not an issue, that the injury he sustained a month ago in Bali is all but a memory. I don't know if I believe that. Parko's one of the best at Lowers, but lost his Round 1 heat to Kai Otton, and after he dispatched Kai Barger in Round 2 he was emphatic that his ankle wasn't bothering him ... maybe a little too emphatic? Word is he's been spending all waking hours with trainers and therapists, and he's even "off the piss." Obviously something's up, but true to the competitor that he is, he ain't saying what.
5. The Mob: Rob Machado eliminated Taj Burrow in tricky afternoon conditions in Heat 2 of Round 2. Sitting fourth in the world, Taj will undoubtedly fall a few spots in the rankings, and given how locked up the top 10 is pointswise, he could very easily fall below that (in the past 10 seasons he's finished in the top 10 nine times). As for Machado, stat man Mike Newman reports this is only his second heat win in his last six starts at Lowers (two wins in 13 heats).
6. The Tour: In our continued commitment to not saying anything about the much-reported "breakaway tour" until there is actually something to say, just know that it was a hot topic of conversation on the beach today, from the competitors' tent to the media room to just about every other hanger-on, wannabe and pundit. Could we be any closer to some sort of resolution now that everybody's in Southern California together?
HURLEY PRO TRESTLES ROUND 1 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Michael Picon (FRA) 13.67, Ben Dunn (AUS) 9.67, Tom Whitaker (AUS) 9.50
Heat 2: Damien Hobgood (USA) 7.27, Dustin Barca (HAW) 6.80, Drew Courtney (AUS) 5.43
Heat 3: David Weare (ZAF) 9.43, Bobby Martinez (USA) 8.64, Dayyan Neve (AUS) 7.10
Heat 4: Mick Fanning (AUS) 14.83, Chris Ward (USA) 8.67, Nic Muscroft (AUS) 4.43
Heat 5: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 15.34, Tim Reyes (USA) 11.00, Luke Stedman (AUS) 7.97
Heat 6: Dane Reynolds (USA) 14.84, Phillip MacDonald (AUS) 11.47, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 6.16
Heat 7: Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) 11.90, Marlon Lipke (DEU) 11.66, C.J. Hobgood (USA) 10.27
Heat 8: Kai Otton (AUS) 12.83, Joel Parkinson (AUS) 9.83, Kai Barger (HAW) 7.83
Heat 9: Kelly Slater (USA) 18.50, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 14.00, Rob Machado (USA) 9.67
Heat 10: Brett Simpson (USA) 14.24, Taj Burrow (AUS) 11.34, Dean Morrison (AUS) 8.10
Heat 11: Chris Davidson (AUS) 13.96, Tiago Pires (PRT) 13.77, Taylor Knox (USA) 11.76
Heat 12: Michel Bourez (PYF) 15.67, Jordy Smith (ZAF) 14.87, Greg Emslie (ZAF) 11.14
Heat 13: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 11.97, Josh Kerr (AUS) 11.33, Jihad Khodr (BRA) 8.86
Heat 14: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 12.66, Jay Thompson (AUS) 11.47, Aritz Aranburu (EUK) 8.87
Heat 15: Tim Boal (FRA) 14.10, Nathaniel Curran (USA) 12.83, Mick Campbell (AUS) 7.16
Heat 16: Heitor Alves (BRA) 14.57, Kieren Perrow (AUS) 11.44, Roy Powers (HAW) 4.17
HURLEY PRO TRESTLES ROUND 2 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 12.16 def. Kai Barger (HAW) 9.93
Heat 2: Rob Machado (USA) 15.16 def. Taj Burrow (AUS) 15.00