By Jake Howard
It’s often said that anybody on tour can beat anybody else in a 30-minute heat depending on the conditions. That’s true, but there are some surfers that certainly make heats more consistently than others. Based on their results and performances this year, the following is our educated guess at who you might expect to see still in the contest come the quarterfinals.
Julian Wilson: Silky smooth style with a penchant for going big, Julian Wilson’s approach is practically tailor-made for Lowers. A big result here solidifies his place in the world title conversation.
Matt Wilkinson: A free-spirited goofy-footer, the Hurley Pro will be an interesting test for Wilkinson. Last season he fell out of the world title hunt after a string of bad results, he’s going to do everything he can to avoid a repeat performance.
Owen Wright: His prowess in big, heavy surf has never been in dispute, but it will be interesting to see how Owen Wright fairs at Lowers. Listed at 6-foot-3 and 180 pounds, he’s going to have to play the power game when the smaller, more nimble surfers take to the air.
John John Florence: With his skate-inspired approach and mind-blowing ability to improvise, Lowers is a spot that John John Florence should win. Currently ranked second in the world, if he can get the competitive fire burning he’ll be hard to stop.
Jordy Smith: Fronting the world title race, the 2017 Hurley Pro is the reason Jordy Smith left Durban, South Africa, and moved to San Clemente. A regular at Lowers these days, he’s bringing a confident, versatile repertoire to this year’s contest. A win here puts him in firm command of the WSL’s gold leader jersey.
Gabriel Medina: Gaining a reputation as one of the fiercest competitors on tour, Medina has the ability to dissect the spot in any and all conditions. The potent combination makes him a clear favorite to go the distance.
Filipe Toledo: Arguably the best small-wave surfer on the planet, anything less than an appearance in the final will be a disappointment for Toledo, and don’t be surprised if he wins the whole thing.
Kolohe Andino: He’s so overdue for a victory at Lowers it’s not even funny. In a good rhythm and a solid headspace, Andino will have the hometown support and should be able to ride it to a solid result.
Stephanie Gilmore: Winner of the inaugural Swatch Pro, Gilmore’s got her groove back this year. Opening the season with a win at the Roxy Pro on the Gold Coast of Australia, Lowers is a wave that suits her impeccable, timeless style.
Carissa Moore: Enjoying her time back in Hawaii during the brief break from tour, Carissa Moore may have the most talent out of any woman in the draw. Watch for her to take to the air and unleash her deep arsenal of progressive maneuvers when the opportunities present themselves.
Tyler Wright: Last year’s world champion and current ratings leader, to see Tyler Wright upset in the early rounds of the contest would be a huge surprise. She’s one of the most unstoppable women on tour and she loves Lower…that’s a dangerous combination.
Sally Fitzgibbons: The argument could be made that no woman on tour wants to win a world title more than Sally Fitzgibbons. She’s been so close so many times, and right in the mix this year, she need a big result at the Swatch Pro and she knows it.
Coco Ho: Enjoying a bit of a resurgence in her career, Hawaii’s Coco Ho has been competing at Lowers ever since her grom days in the NSSA. Today she’s one of the most recognizable surfers on tour, and as of late she’s been putting some legit results up on the board.
Courtney Conlogue: The local powerhouse, Conlogue spends a lot of time training and practicing at Lowers. Her experience and comfort here are her biggest assets, while her competitive fire makes her a clear contender.
Sage Erickson: There’s a good chance Sage Erickson wouldn’t have made this list at the start of the year, but coming off a career-best win at the U.S. Open of Surfing, she’s riding a wave of momentum. There’s nothing stopping her from making back-to-back finals, she’s going to be a threat at Lowers.
Read more of the Hurley Pro/Swatch Pro special section edition HERE: