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The History of Championship Tour Surfing at Trestles

At some point over the course of the next week or so, we’ll be treated to an entire day of surfing at Trestles dedicated entirely to finding this year’s two world champions. Unlike in the past, where results over the course of the entire season determined our world champs, winning this year’s title will require peak performance on that one day, and clearly, an ability to surf well at Lower Trestles is a must. So how often has the World Surf League, Association of Surfing Professionals, and whatever the hell else the top level’s governing body has been called over the years actually gone there? And when they have, have any of the ten surfers set to compete in this year’s WSL Finals enjoyed any success?

When did it all begin?

The then-ASP first headed to Trestles for a competitive event in 2000, debuting as the Billabong Pro in an event which was taken out by Andy Irons. The Billabong Pro lasted just a single year and no contest was held there in 2001, but the following year it returned as the Boost Mobile Pro and would remain a fixture of the men’s calendar until 2017, changing its name to the Hurley Pro in 2009. The women weren’t given an opportunity to compete there until 2014 when the Swatch Women’s Pro was added to the calendar, where it remained for just four years before being canned alongside its men’s counterpart.  

Who has enjoyed the most success at Trestles?

Even though the most prolific of his many prolific periods came throughout the ‘90s before Trestles became a fixture of the Championship Tour, it will come as no surprise to you that the answer to this question is Kelly Slater. And it’s not close. He first won here in 2005, finished second the next year, then took it out five more times over the next six years for a total of six Boost Mobile Pro/Hurley Pro crowns. 

And he doesn’t have much competition for first place. Mick Fanning won it in 2009 before repeating the dose in 2015, while the year after that Jordy Smith also won his second. Outside of those two, however, nobody has managed to win here on multiple occasions in either the men’s or the women’s bracket.

How have this year’s ten WSL Finalists fared?

The Men

Among the ten surfers who will compete at this year’s WSL Finals, there is a pretty varied level of both experience and success at this venue. Toledo is the one name that stands out on the men’s side; in the three most recent Hurley Pro’s which were staged, he finished third twice and won the other, with that victory coming in the last year before the event was shafted. He won that by a big margin too, beating Jordy Smith 15.67-9.8 in the final, but notably his lowest score in that entire event was 14.9 and no one even got close to beating him.

Medina, somewhat strangely, has struggled, not a term associated with him very often nor one which you would expect on a wave which is perfectly set up for him to showcase his otherworldly skills both on the wave face and in the air. His best finish is 3rd in 2015, while he also has a 5th, a 9th and four 13th-placed finishes.

As for the rest of the guys, there’s not a whole lot to write home about. Ferreira hasn’t done much, finishing 9th, 13th and 13th in his three starts at Trestles, but it’s worth mentioning that they all obviously took place pre-2018, when he rapidly ascended up the world rankings. Conner Coffin’s first two events at the top level took place at the Hurley Pro in 2011 and 2012 when he was still a teenager and didn’t go so well, while in 2016 and 2017 he made it one round further but still couldn’t do any better than a 13th-place finish. And as for Cibilic – well, he’s a rookie, so we don’t have much to go on with regards to past performances at Trestles.

Toledo is the clear standout here; this has proven to be one of his favourite waves in the world, while everyone else in the field has either been well below their best or never competed at Trestles.

The Women

There has been a little more success here among the women who will compete at the WSL Finals. Both Gilmore and Moore have won at Trestles in the past, and incidentally both of those wins came in years in which they won one of the seven and four respective world titles they have thus far accumulated (Tyler Wright also won the world title the year she took out the Swatch Women’s Pro – there must be something in the water). On top of that, Gilmore finished 2nd in 2016 and 5th in 2017, while Moore also has a couple of 5th-place finishes to her name.  

Fitzgibbons’ best finish was a 2nd back in 2014, when she went down to Gilmore, while she’s come 5th twice and 13th once in the other three incarnations of the event. Defay has also performed reasonably, slotting in in 3rd place behind Fitzgibbons and Gilmore in 2014 and managing 5th a couple of years later. Weston-Webb is the worst-performed of the lot; in three efforts she didn’t finish higher than 9th, though she is a far better surfer today than she was back then.  

Unlike on the men’s side of things, where Toledo is clearly the best performed surfer at Trestles among those competing, there’s a much more even distribution on the women’s side. All of Gilmore, Moore, Fitzgibbons and Defay have surfed well here in the past, so each of them should have plenty of confidence on the wave. 

It’s been four years since the Championship Tour last competed at Trestles, one of the most iconic waves in one of the world’s most iconic surfing regions. This time though, there’s a little more on the line than at those past events, and for the first time in history, this famous venue will be the location at which two new world champions are crowned.