A stunning northwest swell airbrushed to perfection by offshore winds set the stage for day two of the O’Neill World Cup of Surfing. Wave face heights ranged from 10 to 18 feet and the performance bar of the 25th anniversary Vans Triple Crown of Surfing reached a new high.
A perfect 10-point tube-ride for Basque surfer Hodei Collazo was just the beginning of what the rising swell had in store. Australian Daniel Ross took it one further with the highest heat score of the event - 18.77 out of 20 points, and former O’Neill World Cup champions Sunny Garcia (Hawaii) and Jake Paterson got on the map with respective rides of 9.67 and 9.17 points.
The average winning heat total was 13 points today. One-third of all winning heat totals were 16 points or higher, meaning average wave scores of eight points or better.
Twenty-three year-old Collazo’s four-second tube ride threw his name in the ring for the bonus "Best Barrel" award, presented by American Racing Equipment, Inc. If he can continue on his current path, he will end the 2007 World Qualifying Series (WQS) rated way higher than his present position of 63rd in the world.
"I thought it was an eight point something," said Collazo, of his expectations paddling into the ride. "It was probably the best wave of the day.
"I couldn’t find any good ones in the beginning and I broke my leash. Then my friend just lent me a board and told me I needed a seven. I saw the wave, so I went for the barrel. I made it. I never even tried that board before.
"The Triple Crown is the best thing on the ’QS. We have really bad conditions and beach-breaks so it’s not very good. So, we come here and surf big boards and good waves. It’s a good motivation for everyone.
"[Sunset] is the first wave I surfed when I came here for the first time. I think every year I surf here. This is one of my favorite waves for sure."
After last week’s disappointing late show for his heat in the first event of the Series, six-time Vans Triple Crown of Surfing champion Sunny Garcia was back to his crowd-thrilling self today, advancing with a 17-point victory. His individual scores of 9.67 and 7.33 points were not from tube-rides but from herniating top-to-bottom power gouges.
"This is the kind of conditions I dream about for surfing a contest," said Garcia, who had plenty of time to dream recently while imprisoned on the Mainland. Today he was looking and sounding like Mohammad Ali after finally being let back in the ring.
"This suits me just perfect- a little bigger, a little windy. All these light, kind of weak guys are having a hard time with the wind and the surf. So, I’m hoping it’s gets a little bigger and a little windier and see if I can get back into the Triple Crown race." It will take a win here for him to get back within striking distance.
"Every wave it was about was taking off and trying to do the biggest turns I could. I waxed up a brand new board and it works insane.
"It’s as good as it gets. It’s like an artist with a blank canvas that can paint whatever they want."
Australian Daniel Ross, who needs a big finish at Sunset to qualify for the elite World Championship Tour next year, did everything right in his second-round heat today. Ross is currently 26th on the WQS ratings. While he only rode two waves during the 25-minute heats - one at the start and one at the end, both were exceptional, long tube-rides that scored 9.5 and 9.27 points. While equal in tube-time to Callazo’s ride, what kept them from being perfect 10s was the size of the wave; Ross’ were slightly smaller.
"I was getting a little nervous during the heat because I didn’t have anything else," said Ross. "But I had my mate Mark Mathews caddying for me in the channel and he was pointing out all the good ones. Also, my step-father’s here from Australia so it’s awesome to get a couple in front of him.
"This is the best Sunset I’ve ever surfed. It’s pretty special.
"I need a big result here, but I know I’m capable of doing it. for it to come down to an event like this with waves this good... I’m psyched!"
Not so psyched after being eliminated today were Pancho Sullivan (Hawaii), Evan Valiere (Hawaii), David Weare (South Africa), Neco Padaratz (Brazil) and Mark Mathews (Australia).
Surfline.com reports all is looking very well for a continuation of competition tomorrow.
All of the action of this year’s Vans Triple Crown of Surfing can be experienced live via the internet. Visit www.triplecrownofsurfing.com for more information.