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Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Updated: September 20, 9:53 PM ET
Tightening at Trestles

By Jake Howard

What kind of day was it at Lowers? Of the 12 heats surfed in round two of the Hurley Pro, six were decided by less than half a point, and there wasn't one blowout.

If you were a conspiracy theorist, you could question why local boys Pat Gudauskas and Kolohe Andino weren't still in the contest.

But no theorizing needed. Jeremy Flores may have been overscored a touch on his 9.43, and Gudauskas perhaps underscored given the commitment with which he surfed his two high-scoring rides. But not being able to catch a break -- besides stomping what Kelly Slater called the drop of the year at Cloudbreak -- seems to be a common theme for Gudauskas this season. He has had very few things go his way, which is a bummer given how much passion he puts into it.

"In the end it's surfing, and what are you going to do? The sun's still shining," noted patriarch of the Gudauskas clan, Tom. And you wonder where the boys beaming optimism comes from?

Brett Simpson
Brett Simpson put in a commanding performance against Kieren Perrow, winning the heat by three points, the second largest margin of round two.

And Kolohe Andino's loss to Heitor Alves, nothing more than a flukey rodeo flip that Alves pulled out of nowhere. Andino had been controlling the heat from the onset, maybe tactically he let his guard down a bit, and Alves went upside down to get a nine and steal the lead by a fraction of a point. A last ditch effort on an inside wave came up short for Andino, and with his ankle not fully recovered yet, the 18-year-old was forced to limp away in defeat.

But there were moments of brightness for the California contingent. Taylor Knox took out Owen Wright early in the day, which would probably constitute the upset of the day. Or at least it would if Knox weren't so proven at Lowers.

And to that end, the two surfers that controlled their heats from beginning to end, without exception, were Joel Parkinson, who blew past wildcard Conner Coffin in the first heat of the day, and Brett Simpson, who dispatched Kieren Perrow.

Even in his round one loss, Parko appeared very much at home in the Lowers lineup. Becoming one with the local culture, on Saturday he was seen down on San Clemente's main beach, just south of the pier. His family was posted up right next to a huge birthday gathering of humans of various shapes and forms, a grouping that appeared to have oozed out of the Inland Empire in the late summer heat and somehow congealed back on the sand. Parko just gave his patented Cheshire Cat smile and laughed, "Hot one today? Looks like everybody came to the beach."

Hot one indeed. Parko is starting to look like the man to beat, or at least that's what his fan base is claiming.

Taylor Knox
San Diego pride or the pride of San Diego? Either way, Taylor Knox beat last year's finalist Owen Wright in one of the bigger upsets of the day.

But opinions blow like the breeze. At the onset of the event, Julian Wilson came in highly touted. Dodging a huge bullet today, in the last seconds of his heat, he got the score he needed against Jadson Andre. Holding priority, he sat waiting out the back for the better part of 20 minutes before finally catching a wave.

With more swell on the horizon for Wednesday and Thursday, it's looking like the Hurley Pro may be done by week's end. The surf was surprisingly good for round two today, and if conditions remain as good as they've been, this is really going to get interesting in the next few days.

"Solid south swell to build in and be strongest Wed/Thur, with a building trend in the afternoon tomorrow and an easing trend Friday. Fun size SW swell is on track for the weekend. Conditions through Friday will be favorable with light morning wind and light to moderate onshore flow in the afternoons," reports

A quick look ahead at the round three heat draw shows some pretty heavy match-ups. Slater gets Matty Wilkinson, so the regular-footer vs. the goofy will be in play. Wilko surfed sharply through round two. Taj Burrow vs. Adam Melling should be a good test Melling's such a crafty, savvy competitor, perhaps the new Bede Durbidge (who will be going up against Josh Kerr). And Parko vs. Knox, that's a battle waiting to happen.

Heat 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 15.83 def. Conner Coffin (USA) 10.73
Heat 2: John John Florence (HAW) 14.37 def. Evan Geiselman (USA) 13.93
Heat 3: Taylor Knox (USA) 12.16 def. Owen Wright (AUS) 10.60
Heat 4: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 17.63 def. Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 16.93
Heat 5: Julian Wilson (USA) 14.63 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 14.27
Heat 6: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 14.66 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 11.30
Heat 7: Heitor Alves (BRA) 14.50 def. Kolohe Andino (BRA) 14.33
Heat 8: Adam Melling (AUS) 17.30 def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 17.13
Heat 9: Travis Logie (ZAF) 12.93 def. Miguel Pupo (BRA) 11.77
Heat 10: Brett Simpson (USA) 15.83 def. Kieren Perrow (AUS) 12.70
Heat 11: Alejo Muniz (BRA) 16.30 def. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 15.90
Heat 12: Kai Otton (AUS) 16.50 def. Tiago Pires (PRT) 16.27

Heat 1: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Matt Wilkinson (AUS)
Heat 2: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Alejo Muniz (BRA)
Heat 3: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 4: Jeremy Flores (FRA) vs. Kai Otton (AUS)
Heat 5: Heitor Alves (BRA) vs. Adrian Buchan (AUS)
Heat 6: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 7: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Taylor Knox (USA)
Heat 8: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Michel Bourez (PYF)
Heat 9: Josh Kerr (AUS) vs. Bede Durbidge (AUS)
Heat 10: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Travis Logie (ZAF)
Heat 11: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Brett Simpson (USA)
Heat 12: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Yadin Nicol (AUS)