Four men and four women remain in their quest for a Lower Trestles title, though they aren’t all the names one might expect.
Things are looking good for both the Hurley Pro and Swatch Women’s Pro to conclude finals day today, with shoulder and head high-plus sets expected to roll through San Clemente. Surfline projects some onshore winds in the early forecast, but hopefully they subside in the afternoon.
Tatiana Weston-Webb and Malia Manuel were not able to make it two finals appearances in a row, as each was knocked out during Monday’s session. Each of those losses would probably have to be considered upsets, as well.
Weston-Webb was eliminated by Sage Erickson, who is riding the best wave of success she’s experienced in her career. Erickson just won the QS 6,000 Pantin Classic Galicia Pro before arriving at Lower Trestles. After besting Tati, she went on to also defeat Johanne Defay to earn a spot in the semifinals, where she will take on current rankings leader Tyler Wright. Erickson has just one other Championship Tour semifinal appearance and no trips to a final.
For Weston-Webb, it’s only the second time in seven contests this year she hasn’t reached the quarterfinal round. Her ranking is likely to stay put at No. 4.
Manuel picked up a win over Keely Andrew in her first Monday heat, but she never got going against Nikki Van Dijk in the quarterfinals. Van Dijk surfed a smart heat and picked up the victory to earn her first semifinal appearance of the season. There she will take on Stephanie Gilmore who, amazingly, also had not yet made a semifinal in 2016.
With Wright holding the yellow jersey and the next five in the rankings all out of the event, she has a golden opportunity to jump out to healthy lead with a victory.
On the men’s side, Jordy Smith also has a huge opportunity to get himself into the world title race. He’s the highest-ranked man still in the Hurley Pro, entering the contest ranked sixth in the world. Two more heat wins would propel him into fourth and within one more big result of top-ranked John John Florence.
Smith took down wild card Brett Simpson in the quarterfinals. Simpson had been a huge spoiler throughout the event, eliminating Matt Wilkinson, Florence and Michel Bourez in his first CT appearance of 2016. But Smith proved too much for the Californian and he will now face off with Filipe Toledo.
Toledo would be the favorite of the final four if Monday’s conditions held for the week. But if the waves are a bit bigger today, he’ll have a tougher time using his speed and air game to stand out against the field.
The second semifinal pits wild card Tanner Gudauskas against former world champ Joel Parkinson. Along with Simpson, Gudauskas has been the major story of the week. He’s also been a spoiler with wins over Gabriel Medina and Stu Kennedy. Having already clinched his best career CT result, he just might be poised to emulate Sebastian Zietz and come away with a win from a wild card spot.
It would have been nice to see someone — anyone — from Hawaii still in the mix, but the final day at Lower Trestles is still going to be quite impactful and hopefully entertaining.
David Simon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.