Nick Carroll: The Slowers Showdown

11 Nov 2020 10 Share

Nick Carroll

Senior Writer

This is perhaps what the World Title will look like in 2021. Photo: WSL/Rowland

This is perhaps what the World Title will look like in 2021. Photo: WSL/Rowland

COASTALWATCH | NICK CARROLL

World titles at Lower Trestles? Say it ain’t so, Joe!

The World Surf League’s presser, released upon the globe this morning, is full of information about the year ahead. So much to consider! Pipeline, then Sunset! Grajagan TBD! It’s worth a thorough comb-over, and my colleague Seano will be giving it just that shortly.

But me — I read the opening stanza and jusbt stopped dead.

Lower Trestles?

The First WSL Finals Will Be Held At Lower Trestles?

This is not a personal thing, mind you. I love Lowers. I think maybe it saved my life. For nearly seven years in the mid-1990s, while I lived in San Clemente, it felt like a sanctuary. So what if it was crowded, so what if we all called it “Slowers” half the time? You could run down the track on a late fall morning, under a clear early morning sky, smelling the sage and fennel, and maybe luck into a secondary pulse of that much forecasted south. Do more than two turns on a wave! Go left, then go right! Feel the sun rise or fall. Talk shit with your buddies. Escape.

If you’ve ever spent time in SoCal, you’ll know what this can mean.

But this is not about me, or you, is it? Oh no. This is about the best of the best, the top five men and women pro surfers in the world.

Right now, they’re scheduled to show up at Lowers after smashing up the rankings at Pipe, Sunset, J-Bay, Teahupoo, and maybe Grajagan (TBD!), along with Steamer Lane,  the Pool and a few of the usual suspects in Oz and Brazil, COVID permitting.

And then they’re gonna sort out the world professional surfing titles with a day at Lower Trestles? One of the least challenging waves of modern times? A spot where you literally cannot get barrelled? A place where if it’s more than head and a half high, the wave begins to deteriorate? 

If Lowers is gonna be good in September, if the Southern Hemi is to produce Lowers type surf across the South Pacific, here is a short list of some other spots which will also have to be good:

Fiji!

Tahiti!

Mainland Mexico!!

Yes, four to six foot Lowers means 12’+ Puerto Escondido and 6-8’ at the points not far off, it means 8’ plus surf in Tahiddy, and it’s very likely to mean a sting in the tail at Cloudbreak.

And let’s not forget Indonesia — not quite in sync, but still exposed to that Southern Hemi energy, and in September, maybe the best place to be in all of surfing.

There’s a LOT of very good surfers in the world these days, and a lot of them will be posting crazy pits on social media from the above locations, while the top five in the world are doing airs over each other and landing on the cobblestones.

A note of empathy here. The WSL has been caught in the cleft stick of Covid all this year. Trying to get the ducks in a row for 2021 has been an enormous task. Even two weeks ago, given the amount of hoop-jumping going on, their announcement today would have been impossible.

The sport could have karked it. You’ve got to acknowledge the effort.

But a Lowers finale?

They’ve gotta be thinking of this as a kind of stop-gap, one-time-only deal. Something to be lived with for this tricky year of re-setting, while they prep for shifting to somewhere with some muscle. Somewhere that’ll put the wind up the top five and blow the minds of you and me, the spectators.


At least I hope so. Because if they’re thinking Lowers is the new Pipeline — the natural end point of a world tour, scary and brilliant, where all bets are off and everyone’s glued to the stream — then they’re more dislocated from the surf communities of the world than I’d ever imagined.

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