No doubt that Dane Reynolds turns heads, but given what John Florence and Gabriel Medina did today, he's not the only one that does so.
As the Nike Lowers Pro worked through round two and round three today things have gotten more serious, and so have the performances. Consider the Medina show at the end of the day. He finished the heat with an event-high 19.5 heat score, and threw away another nine that he didn't need in his score line. With a light sideshore wind blowing into the Lowers lefts, he uncorked just about every kind of air, grab and reverse there is. He now owns the two highest heat scores of the event. His surfing is so ridiculously suited for Lowers nobody's even been able to come close what he's done the last couple of days.
On the other hand, Florence is cool, composed and understated. Stomping a huge, no-handed backside air at the end of his heat, he didn't pump his fist or claim it, he just eyeballed the next session. He's taken his skate-inspired small wave approach and translated it perfectly to the Trestles. The argument could be made that he's the best on tour at Pipeline, and therefore other waves of consequence, and now that it seems like his act above the lip has kicked into overdrive he's quickly evolved into a potential world title contender in the next few years. Out of all the young guys on tour, he could be the most well-rounded.
Maybe most impressive is that for as successful as he's been this year -- a Triple Crown title and win at Margaret River -- Florence does not appear to be letting any of it go to his head. For his warmup surf the other morning he arrived on the beach alone, hood pulled down over his head, and only one board under arm. There was a little "Rocky" vibe emanating from him. No entourage, no fanfare or filmers in tow, a surfer's surfer. As somebody put it to me today, "Growing up on the North Shore will keep you humble."
Florence and Medina may have stolen the show, but also doing work were the Gudauskas brothers, who both advanced into the Round of 16.
"One heat at a time," smiled Tanner Gudauskas. "We're just doing our thing and trying to make heats."
Whatever they're doing, it's working. They're the only remaining local boys still in the contest and have the full support of the beach crowd.
And when it comes to fan favorites, Mark Occhilupo is still going. Winning his first heat today, he finished second to Pat Gudauskas in the final grouping of the day, which relegates him to the Round of 24. It's man-on-man heats from here on out, so that should play to Occy's favor ... and the surf's supposed to bump up a bit tomorrow, another factor that favors him.
They'll be going through the round of 24 and the round of 16 tomorrow, then this thing's wrapped on Saturday. The waves have been great, the surfing even more so, it should be a great run into the homestretch.
Nike Lowers Pro No Losers Round of 24:
Heat 1: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 17.13, Glenn Hall (IRL) 15.03, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 14.77
Heat 2: Nat Young (USA) 17.17, Sebastien Zietz (HAW) 13.86, Tomas Hermes (BRA) 13.26
Heat 3: Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 17.87, Gabe Kling (USA) 15.50, Taylor Knox (USA) 12.23
Heat 4: John John Florence (HAW) 16.23, Cory Lopez (USA) 15.67, C.J. Hobgood (USA) 13.06
Heat 5: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 19.53, Daniel Ross (AUS) 13.06, Dane Reynolds (USA) 12.33
Heat 6: Granger Larsen (HAW) 18.43, Heitor Alves (BRA) 17.00, Brett Simpson (USA) 14.74
Heat 7: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 15.17, Jay Thompson (AUS) 13.60, Blake Thornton (AUS) 13.20
Heat 8: Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 15.53, Mark Occhilupo (AUS) 13.83, Nathan Yeomans (USA) 8.57
Nike Lowers Pro Round of 48 Results:
Heat 7: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 16.90, Granger Larsen (HAW) 16.77, Mitch Crews (AUS) 13.93, Charles Martin (GLP) 6.87
Heat 8: Brett Simpson (USA) 16.60, Dane Reynolds (USA) 15.30, Heath Joske (AUS) 13.80, Jesse Mendes (BRA) 12.27
Heat 9: Heitor Alves (BRA) 17.70, Daniel Ross (AUS) 13.27, Alejo Muniz (BRA) 13.00, Kiron Jabour (HAW) 7.66
Heat 10: Jay Thompson (AUS) 15.60, Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 15.13, Conner Coffin (USA) 11.90, Jano Belo (BRA) 10.10
Heat 11: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 15.10, Nathan Yeomans (USA) 14.53, Romain Cloitre (FRA) 13.77, Hank Gaskell (HAW) 11.87
Heat 12: Mark Occhilupo (AUS) 14.10, Blake Thornton (AUS) 13.83, Tom Whitaker (AUS) 10.17, Michel Bourez (PYF) 6.40