The world’s top-ranked surfers survived a boiling pot of rising swell at Sunset Beach for the O’Neill World Cup today, before victory-at-sea conditions gained the upper hand. Wave face heights clawed their way up to 25 feet before maxing out and setting the competition zone awash. Just eight of the total 16 heats of the top-seeded round were completed. The O’Neill World Cup of Surfing is the second stop of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing.
Terry Ahue, head of the Hawaiian Water Patrol team who safeguard surfers in the lineup, recommended that competition be halted for the safety of participants.
Those whose heats were held earlier in the morning enjoyed the large, challenging conditions that Sunset Beach is famous for, securing some incredibly long rides and the occasional gaping barrel.
Of the 16 surfers who advanced out of today’s heats, more than half were Australians, who appeared to enjoy the opportunity to tackle the hefty Sunset surf. The advancing group was made up of nine Australians, three Hawaiians, three Mainland US surfers, and a lone Brazilian.
Adrian Buchan, from the central coast of NSW, Australia, lead the continuing Aussie assault today, posting the top heat score of the day of 17.84 points. His top score of 9.17 came from a giant ride that began more than 300 yards from shore. With a series of carving turns he progressed all the way through the West Bowl to the safety of the channel. His second score of 8.67 included a tube ride on the Bowl.
“We come over here and we don’t get a chance to surf waves like this at home, so when the surf’s like it is today, you might not find that many local guys out but all the Aussies will be out,” said 25-year-old Buchan.
“I was pretty stoked to get a couple of good ones. It’s all about positioning – trying to stay out of trouble and pick off the cleaner waves that don’t have too much wall. If you take a close-out you’re pretty much going to waste 10 minutes of the heat getting flushed back around. It’s about heat management and being savvy with your positioning.
“The Triple Crown is the second-most prestigious award in surfing after the world title, so to do well over here carries a lot of weight. But it’s one heat at a time and your up against the ocean every day.”
Maui’s Ian Walsh was also masterful today, particularly given that he was in the final heat before competition was stopped and had to endure two wash-through sets that entirely closed out the channel. While the other three surfers in his heat battled to even get their heat score into the double digits, Walsh clocked up 15.17 points with two waves straight off the bat – an 8.5 and a 6.67.
“You had to just roll the dice out there and hope you’d luck into a good score,” said Walsh.
Of the 16 top-seeded surfers who took to the water today, seven were eliminated, including current Vans Triple Crown of Surfing series leader Roy Powers (Haw): Jarrad Howse (Aust), Fred Patacchia (Haw), Jihad Khodre (Brz), Mikael Picon (Fra), Dean Morrison (Aust), CJ Hobgood (Florida), and Powers.
When competition resumes, it will be with heat nine of the round of 64. Yet to surf in that round are Sunny Garcia (Haw), Jordy Smith (SAfr), Marcus Hickman (Haw) and defending event champion Joel Parkinson (Aust).
In addition to the $125,000 prize purse for this event, O’Neill has partnered with American Racing Equipment, Inc. to offer additional awards for the “Best Barrel” and “Breakout Performance”. Recipients of these awards will win a set of American Racing rims out of the ATX Series of all-terrain wheels.
All of the action of this year’s Vans Triple Crown of Surfing can be experienced live via the internet at: www.triplecrownofsurfing.com.