Oakley Pro Junior Kicks Off at Lower Trestles

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Intensity escalated for Round 3 of the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Qualifying Series (WQS) 6-Star PRIME 6.0 Lowers Pro today when the event’s top performers showcased spectacular surfing in the best conditions of the event. The two-to-four foot surf on offer also hosted the opening round of the ASP Grade-2 Oakley Pro Junior Global Challenge U.S.A Qualifier which saw young goofy-footer Conner Coffin (Santa Barbara, CA), 15, post the event’s first perfect 10-point-ride. Coffin was the event wildcard selected by Oakley.

With the 6.0 Lowers Pro offering the maximum amount of points towards qualification for the ASP Dream Tour due to its 6-Star PRIME status, the event plays an integral role in all surfers’ 2009 campaigns. The Oakley Pro Junior, an ASP North America Pro Junior Series, acts as a qualifier for the ASP World Junior Championships. At year’s end, each region sends its top seeds to do battle in Narrabeen, Australia in an attempt to claim the title of ASP World Junior Champion. The Oakley Pro Junior at Trestles is also the only U.S. qualifier for entry into the Oakley Pro Junior Global Challenge in Bali in October, which boasts the richest prize purse in junior surfing.

Nat Young (Santa Cruz, CA), 17, continued to dominate the righthand walls of Lower Trestles on his backhand today, unleashing the day’s highest single wave score of 6.0 Lowers Pro competition, a near-perfect 9.57 out of 10. Young needed a nine-point-ride to advance through his Round 3 heat and earned the score in the dying minutes to progress through to Round 4.

“I pretty much had counted myself out of the heat by then,” Young said. “Once I saw that wave I knew it was going to be a good right and I just surfed it. Towards the end I was thinking, I could actually get the score!”

The impressive result by the Santa Cruz talent will earn him the most points of his career on the ASP WQS, significantly helping his seed on the The Grind. Young will now enter into the three-man heat format utilized in ASP 6-Star PRIME competition and will face a stacked heat against current ASP World Tour No. 5 C.J. Hobgood (Melbourne, FL), 29, who won the event in 2002 and 2007, and ASP World Tour sophomore Dane Reynolds (Ventura, CA), 23, tomorrow.

“I think this is the most points I’ve ever gotten, so I’m stoked,” Young said. “Plus, next heat is only a three-man heat, so it’s one less person in the water out at Lowers. If I get through that heat I’ll be stoked.”

Adriano De Souza (Guaruja Sao Paulo, BRA), 22, was a standout in yesterday’s action and continued to flare today when he donated the highest heat total of 6.0 Lowers Pro competition with a 17.43 out of 20.

“I feel a little bit more consistent today,” De Souza said. “I’ve been getting lucky, everything has been going my way and my boards have been going really good.”

Although Lower Trestles’ rights often offer the highest scoring potential, the young Brazilian has been capitalizing on the steep lefthand walls to earn his top scores. De Souza is planning to use the same strategy as the event progresses.

“I’ve really been getting my best waves on the lefts,” De Souza said. “My three best waves in that heat were lefts and yesterday I was able to get big scores on the left handers instead of the rights and I think tomorrow will be the same because I’m surfing around the same tide.”

Dusty Payne (Lahaina, HI), 20, showed why he is considered by several of his peers to be one of the most progressive surfers on the planet when he dropped an 8.33 out of 10 with only two maneuvers. The Lahaina local blasted a radical tail-drifting first turn and followed up with a massive frontside air-reverse on a closeout section to earn the score, eventually allowing him to convincingly win his heat.

“The wave didn’t offer a whole lot, so it was either go for it or get a 3-point-score,” Payne said. “That’s what I had to do to make it through the heat because there are not a lot of waves and hopefully you come up on top.”

2008 was Payne’s final year in the ASP Pro Junior Series, and a third-place finish in last year’s Oakley Pro Junior U.S. Qualifier at Trestles earned him a wildcard spot in the inaugural Oakley Pro Junior Global Challenge in Bali where in claimed the title and $20,000 check. The young Hawaiian is having a successful campaign on the ASP WQS this year, currently rated 16th overall, and taking his quest for qualification for the ASP Dream Tour in stride.

“I’m just going event-by-event and am going to see where I am halfway through the year,” Payne said. “If I’m in the top 16 at the halfway point in the year, I’m definitely going to make a push to qualify. It’s my dream to be on the World Tour, so we’ll see how the year goes.”

Coffin got off to a slow start in his opening 2009 ASP North America Pro Junior heat, but he eventually calmed his nerves enough to annihilate a Lowers lefthander to earn the first perfect 10-point-score of Oakley Pro Junior competition with several vertical forehand blasts. The jaw-dropping performance was added to another near-perfect 9.67, which was also earned on a left.

“I had started out that heat so bad,” Coffin said. “I was so nervous and I got a beautiful right and fell. I didn’t even know what I was doing. Then I got those two lefts.”

Conner is making good use of the entrance he earned into the Oakley Pro Junior as a wildcard and is enjoying surfing Lowers with only three other guys in the lineup.

“I’m only in this contest because Oakley gave me a wildcard,” Coffin said. “I’m so stoked that I can compete in this event. There were so many waves in my heat and it’s so fun to surf Lowers with only a few guys out.”

Tomorrow’s action will see the 6.0 Lowers Pro complete Rounds 4 and 5 before it returns to Oakley Pro Junior competition. Round 4 will kick off the day with an all-Hawaiian heat including ASP World Tour surfer Fred Patacchia (North Shore, HI), 27, Dusty Payne (Lahaina, HI), 20, and Evan Valiere (Kauai, HI).

Watch all of the LIVE action via www.nike6lowerspro.com <http://www.nike6lowerspro.com> . An enhanced quality webcast will also be available for the last two days of competition exclusively at www.fuel.tv <http://www.fuel.tv> .

The 6.0 Lowers Pro and Oakley Pro Junior wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of sponsors Nike 6.0 and Oakley, co-sponsor Red Bull, and media sponsors Surfer (surfermag.com), Surfing (surfingthemag.com), WaveWatch.com and FUEL TV.