Adriano de Souza Takes Down Young Guns, Finishing 3rd at the Hurley Pro at Trestles

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Surfing loves what’s new and next. The new move; the next phenom. The new trend; the next frontier. Surfers – unless they’re the 11-times world champ – go in and out of vogue faster than backward pants.

It wasn’t long ago that Adriano de Souza was the lone face and future of Brazilian surfing. With his blend of power and new school maneuvers, he was seen as the best chance the country had a surfing world title. He won a few events. He cracked the top 5. Then came a host of younger talent wielding an unworldly aerial game. The spotlight swayed slightly. The young guys have come in and made their impact, but there sits Adriano, highest among the Brazilians in the ASP World Tour rankings.

This past week, Adriano and some of the older generation shone the spotlight a bit brighter their way. On his way to a third-place finish at the Hurley Pro at Lower Trestles in Southern California, Adriano took down the two most talented ‘young guys’ on Tour in Gabriel Medina and John John Florence.

“It’s funny when people talk about the ‘young guys’ on Tour – I’m only 25,” de Souza said afterward while rocking his Oakley Holbrooks. “My goal was to get into the top 3 of this event, so that was good for my confidence. I’m glad to be back in the top 5 [of the World Tour rankings], but now I want to stay there and get closer and closer to a world title.”

A week of crossed-up swells had Lowers looking like its typical iconic self, with three- to five-foot, long, open faces ideal for putting the complete repertoire on display. Surfing’s skate park was ready for surfers to perform. And perform they did. Both Julian Wilson and Adam Melling found themselves posting big scores and gathering the support of the beach, only to experience some dramatic late-heat magic. Julian pulled it off twice, before falling victim to the World’s No.1, Mick Fanning in Round 5.

In the semifinals, the set waves at Lowers weren’t coming Adriano’s way, forcing him to try to find scoring potential on waves with less face and power. He ended up falling short to Joel Parkinson, who lost to some guy with a girly first name in the final.

The next stop for the Tour is in France, followed by the Rip Curl Pro in Portugal, an event Adriano won last year.

Jordy Smith was another of the in-form surfers heading into the final day of the event. Having fought injuries and a minor lack of confidence, Lowers offered the big South African a wave on which to show that he still had the power and aerial prowess that had made him one of the most promising talents to join the Tour.

In his quarterfinal heat with Parkinson, Jordy went wave-for-wave with the World’s No. 2. With every set wave that approached the cobblestone pointbreak, the energy on the beach would rise in anticipation of what was to come. Jordy’s turns appeared more critical, more forceful. It was evident he wanted to use this wave and this event as a statement that he was still among the best in the world. At Lowers, against Parko, the judges didn’t agree. The talk on the beach was Jordy had been robbed.

“I thought I should have won that heat,” Jordy said afterward, looking slightly perplexed by the outcome. “I felt like I was really pushing through my turns, and while [Joel] got the better waves, he was more placing his turns.”

By the end of the afternoon, it was Kelly Slater who would take out Parko in the final and claim his 50th World Tour win and make it clear that he has World Title No. 12 on his mind.

As the Tour shifts to Europe, with just four events to go and a handful of surfers still in the running for the top spot, age becomes less of a concern. So too does the talent.

“It’s a mental game,” Adriano explained. “It’s the Top 32 in the world – the guys with the best skills and talent. It’s always going to be tough."