It's easy to forget what a grind the events that comprise the tour formerly known as the WQS are. Today the Nike 6.0 Lowers Pro started with the Round of 128, and as one would expect with 128 aspiring pros who's careers hang precariously in the balance, it's a sordid affair.
Walk through the competitor's area and you hear everything from the chirp of Brazilian Portuguese, to rapid-fire Japanese, to quasi-Afrikaans, French, Spanish, Basque, SoCal bro-speak and Hawaiian pidgin. All coastlines of our planet are represented. Obviously that's why they call it the "world" tour, but it's still worth pointing out, and makes for some interesting results.
In the first two heats of the mornings it was Hawaii that struck the first blow with Fred Patachhia, Granger Larson and TJ Barron taking three out of the four slots into the next round -- the other would go to Julian Wilson.
After that things got considerably more eclectic. Nat Young Eric Geiselman, Cory Lopez and Chris Warring fared well for the United States, while a multitude of mates from Down Under, a slew of Brazlians, a bru from South Africa, a couple Puerto Ricans and a chap from Reunion Island also advanced. As you can see, there's a reason the Round of 128 isn't typically dissected by the surf media, there's just too many players in the game at this point.
By mid-afternoon the round was over, the damage was done, and contest organizers kept shuffling right on into the Round of 96. In the first heat defending champ Patacchia went down to an extremely energized Adriano De Souza. I will say that De Souza is surfing like a bat out of hell. About a year ago he moved his base camp to San Clemente and has been spending more time out at Lowers. It's paying off. He had the highest wave-score of the day, and definitely looked the most in form. But watch out for fellow Brazilian Wiggolly Dantes. The kid with the funny name is ripe for a big result.
Also worthy of note on the day, Julian Wilson advance out of his Round of 96 heat, and then made no illusion about his determination to make a push to qualify for the world tour this year. "For sure, this is the year," he said. "Gotta get on the horse and give it a good go this year."
So there you go, an interesting day of surf down at Lowers. The waves continued to build all through the day, and the swell's supposed to peak tomorrow. We're starting to inch towards the money rounds, and the plot can only thicken from here.