Two-time world champion Tom Carroll was injured today while surfing huge 25-foot waves at Waimea Bay on Oahu's North Shore. Carroll was one of many surfers braving the rapidly rising surf there as many were preparing to do battle in today's Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau, the world's most prestigious big-wave surfing competition.
Carroll snapped his tibia when a huge wave caught him from behind and drove him straight through his board. He remained in good spirits as he was wheeled up the beach and loaded onto an ambulance. So good, in fact, that he dutifully put his sponsor's garb on while being hounded by the press.
As they say, all press is good press, and over here on the North Shore--the most photographed stretch of coast in the world--there's no less than 10 marketing managers per hundred humans. Pros simply can't be seen shirtless or without some sort of branding. Watch how Tommy sucks it up even while writhing in pain...then decide if he's about to laugh or cry...
Right now the biggest storm since 1969 has turned the entire North Pacific into a cauldron of ferocious ocean swell. It's the last place in the world any boat would want to be. According to the latest buoy data the storm's massive swells are heading straight toward Hawaii, where surf forecasters are predicting the biggest swell since 1969 to hit Monday through Wednesday. Some are calling this one off the charts.
But for a brave few, this swell is 40 years in the making, because most big-wave surf lore revolves around the massive swell of 1969, which was generated by an El Nino system. That's the year when Greg Noll was rumored to have ridden a 30-foot wave at Makaha. What transpires over the next few days could usurp that legend, especially if "The Eddie" goes off at Waimea Bay on Oahu's North Shore.
The new swell started pounding the North Shore of Oahu late Sunday night. Officials are preparing for road closures over vast coastal stretches, and those who live on the beach are emptying out furniture, electronics and valuables from the bottom floors. Today is all about bracing for the blow.
All the while, surfers in Hawaii are readying themselves for what could be the swell of their lives, mapping out which break they think will handle the swell and wind conditions best. For many this is the ultimate measuring stick, because big-wave surfing has changed dramatically in the last 40 years. The advent of tow-surfing via personal watercraft opened the floodgates in the search for the planet's biggest waves, including those that couldn't be paddled into. Waves of 50, 60 and even 70 feet have been ridden in places from California and Chile, South Africa and Australia, and even in international waters over the past decade as new spots have been discovered and equipment refined.
Yet the traditional paddle-in approach is still the most difficult, which is why "The Eddie" attracts the best big-wave riders.
On paper, measuring today's storm vs. the one that created the massive swell of 1969 is a race that's too close to call. Yet there's a good chance Waimea Bay will be too big on Tuesday. But if it's a wash out, Maui's renowned beast known as Jaws, and some of Oahu's distant outer reefs will easily rival or surpass the record for the biggest wave ever ridden. Currently, that record is with Mike Parsons, who rode a 70-foot wave at Cortez Banks in 2001, a wave that breaks 100 miles in the middle of the ocean off of San Clemente, California.
The same swell that's hitting Hawaii today, should arrive in California by Wednesday. This should get interesting.
All you need to know about this year's O'Neill World Cup at Sunset is it was one of the best in years. That's bound to happen when organizers are praying for the surf to come down instead of up just to finish on time. Sunset Beach was out of control for much of the wating period, but Triple Crown Contest Director Randy Rarrick couldn't have asked for better conditions on the final day. Light trades, solid 10 foot surf and a firing Inside Bowl provided plenty of drama this morning as the swell steadily declined...Here's the story lines.
39-year-old Sunny Garcia, a six-time Triple Crown Champion, was arguably robbed of his third World Cup. Garcia opened the final with an incredible needle threading of the Inside Bowl after ripping the outside. He earned a 9.4 on a wave that could have easily been given a 10.0. Had he been handed even a 9.7 he would have won. But the ocean went quiet in the final (call it the calm before Monday's huge storm) and the only backup wave Garcia's was able to muster was a disappointing 3.4. Sunny's been around long enough to know that's inexcusable.
Joel Parkinson, meanwhile, has clearly put his slump behind him. And if you're wondering about his ankle? Don't. Trust us...Parko's fine. What you should be watching is the momentum he's been building on ever since snapping out of his dreaded slump in Portugal. I'm pretty sure Fanning is. And after Parko's solid finish at Haleiwa and his win today, he's now hoping to capture the Triple Crown and the World Title at Pipeline. Yes, he'll need help from somebody, but he's ready for a fight.
All that said, Mick Fanning was the best surfer of the day. Add all of his rides from today's quarters, semis and the final and it's pretty clear this guy is on his game. Face it, he has been all year. But while Parko got off to his blazing start Fanning suffered two early losses in extremely close heats for good reason, his fellow competitors scored perfect 10-point-rides. When they don't he's been pretty frickin' hard to stop.
And we'd be remiss if we didn't mention the huge WQS drama at stake today, and the clutch performance put in by Hawaii's Dusty Payne, who qualified for the ASP World Tour during his first real season of slugging it out. That alone says all you really need to know about Dusty, whose odds were not favorable coming into Sunset. But with his berth into the finals Dusty powered his way up into the 9th slot on the WQS rankings all the way from the 18th. As a result, he pushed out Joan Duru, who was tied with Blake Thornton. On a countback, the Australian Blake Thornton stayed in the ASP WQS Top 15 and qualified for the 2010 ASP World Tour.
Not all hope is lost for Joan, however. Jay Thompson still has a chance of double qualifying by making the ASP World Tour Top 27,and if he does, he will not need his WQS spot, opening it up for Joan to become 15th.
Finals Results of the O'Neill World Cup
1. Joel Parkinson
2. Sunny Garcia
3. Mick Fanning
4. Dusty Payne
The final 15 ASP WQS qualifiers for the 2010 World Tour are:
Ross, Daniel AUS
Gudauskas, Patrick USA
Andre, Jadson BRA
Melling, Adam AUS
Wright, Owen AUS
Munro, Luke AUS
Thompson, Jay AUS
Yeomans, Nathan USA
Payne, Dusty HAW
Simpson, Brett USA
Wilkinson, Matt AUS
Gudauskas, Tanner USA
Logie, Travis ZAF
Polo, Marco BRA
Thornton, Blake AUS
ASP stat man Al Hunt brings has broken it down for us this way. The Australians have taken 50% of the available WQS slots with 7, USA with 4, Brazil with 2 and Hawaii and South Africa 1 each.
The big movers at Sunset were Dusty Payne 18-9, Tanner Gudauskas 16-12, Bernardo Miranda 22-17 and Van's Triple Crown Rookie of the year Alejo Muniz 38-26.
Drew Courtney and Rodrigo Dornelles were knocked off next year's tour by Tanner and Dusty. Drew ending up 18th and Rodrigo 19th.