Filipe Toledo explaining his strategy in his fourth round win against Connor Coffin. (Photo by Niko LaBarbera)
Filipe Toledo proved why he is considered to be one of the best small wave surfers in the world, after winning the first World Surf League Qualifying Series 10,000 of the year at the Oakley Lowers Pro at Trestles Beach near San Clemente, California.
With 96 of the best surfers in the world competing from 17 different countries, the 20-year-old Brazilian showed why he was the standout going into the event.
Toledo started strong with a 9.87 on his first wave of the event, and kept that pace throughout the week.
He was able to get his combined wave score in the excellent range during every heat, and had an average two-wave score of 16.64.
He advanced through each round without any loses during the event.
Toledo’s unmatched air game and quick style of surfing proved to be impossible to counter, but powerful surfers like Dusty Payne and second place finalist Jeremy Flores showed strong bottom turns and powerful carves were still worthy of scoring 8s and 9s in the judges eyes.
Even with the large array of Championship Tour surfers including Kelly Slater and local pro Kolohe Andino, Toledo appeared to be surfing on another level.
He averaged seven waves each heat and was able to set up smooth turns and transitions on the larger set waves along with the smaller, inside breaks.
Priority didn’t appear to be a concern as Toledo was able to surf the less desirable waves that other competitors would ignore.
He executed an aerial maneuver on nearly every wave he caught, and at times would perform two on one wave.
Although all eyes were on Toledo, there were a handful of other competitors who stood out among the pack.
Fellow Brazilian and rookie Michael Rodriguez was one of the standout surfers of the event, and although he went down to runner-up Jeremy Flores in the fourth round, he was able to execute a fully rotated air reverse with time running out to show the judges he can perform under pressure.
Another standout performance was from local surf icon Tanner Gadauskas. After seeing his brother Pat lose in Round 3, Tanner battled his way through to the quarterfinals only to loose to Wade Carmichael after a fall on the final set wave of the heat with little time to go.
The wide variety of surfers from around the world provided a truly integrated surf competition, but the newly identified Brazilian storm surfers were the eye catchers of the weekend.
Miguel Pupo air reversing in his fourth round loss to local Tanner Gadauskas.(Photo by Niko LaBarbera)
Toledo is the third straight Brazilian to win this event following Gabriel Medina and Miguel Pupo, and showed how strong the Brazilian presence is on tour.
With his win on the Gold Coast and strong finish at Snapper Rocks, Toledo is proving to be the standout surfer this year on the WCT.
He is currently in third place and sits 10,000 points shy of fellow Brazilian and current world leader Adriano De Souza.
With momentum building from this win and the next WSL event being in his home country of Brazil, Toledo will surely be the surfer to look at for at the upcoming Oi Rio Pro in Rio de Janerio.