SAN CLEMENTE, Calif – The Nike Lowers Pro draws a top contingent of the world’s best surfers to Lower Trestles each year for a chance to surf high performance Lower Trestles with only one other man in the water. The massive prize purse ($40,000 for first), lucrative ASP points (6,500 for first) and the most valued trophy in surfing, the 14-karat gold railroad spike (valued at over $30,000), are just the icing on the cake. This year is no exception.
The annual event has taken contest surfing to new levels with aerials and other progressive maneuvers the rule rather than the exception. Last year’s contest spotlighted an upcoming young Brazilian delegation with Miguel Pupo’s progressive talents shining the brightest to claim the title. Pupo, currently #10 on the World Rankings, will be back to defend his title along with his Brazilian brethren Alejo Muniz and Gabriel Medina, currently ranked #23.
In order to earn the 2011 title, Pupo had to take out local hero Tanner Gudauskas (San Clemente, Calif.) in the final. Gudauskas will be back as well as another local favorite, Kolohe Andino (San Clemente, Calif.), currently #21 in the World Rankings. Carlsbad’s Taylor Knox, Ventura’s Dane Reynolds and Santa Cruz’s Nat Young will round out the California contingent. Two-time Lowers champion (2002, 2007) and former World Champion (2001) CJ Hobgood (Melbourne Beach, Fla.), currently ranked #13 and Evan Geiselman (New Smyrna Beach, Fla.), #27, will represent for the east coast of the USA.
World Tour surfer and current #4 in the World Rankings John John Florence (North Shore, Haw.) and 2009 World Junior Champion Kai Barger (Haiku, Haw.), neither of which are strangers to the Lower Trestles auditorium, are two Hawaiians to watch for.
Australian legend and 1999 World Champ Mark Occhilupo (AUS) will be joining the mix this year, as will current World Tour surfer Adrian Buchan (AUS) and World Rankings #24 Julian Wilson (AUS).
Nike has allocated wildcards to 17-year-olds Koa Smith (Kilauea, Haw.) and Filipe Toledo (BRA) and 21-year-old Nic Von Rupp (GER). ASP has delivered wildcards to 18-year-old Conner Coffin (Santa Barbara, Calif.) and 19-year-old Luke Davis (Capo Beach, Calif.), with others to be determined.
A two-heat Local Trial on the first day of competition will seed two locals into the first round of competition. Eight surfers total have a chance at the coveted spots.
The Nike Lowers Pro returns to San Clemente, Calif., for the fifth consecutive year, May 1-5. The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) PRIME contest is one of only two events of the highest caliber on the US Mainland this year, and touts a $250,000 prize purse with a highly coveted one-of-a-kind 14-karat gold railroad spike trophy worth more than $30,000.
The Nike Lowers Pro will be at the forefront of digital innovation. All five days of competition will be broadcast in HD-quality live on the event webcast. The upgraded production will feature super slow motion video for frame-by-frame analysis of significant maneuvers, heat-by-heat analyzer and the incorporation of athlete and viewer Tweets and Instagram photos during the broadcast for an insider’s view of the event.
Photo: Dane Reynolds will push the standards of progressive surfing at Lowers