THURSO, Scotland, April 26, 2008 – After four days of waiting, former world champion Sunny Garcia finally got his first ever competitive surf in the chilly water of northern Scotland at The O’Neill Highland Open by Swatch.
The Hawaiian easily dominated his heat, surfing against the young Australian O’Neill rider, Tim Taplin as well as American Shaun Burrell and South African David Richards who finished second.
“I was a little nervous,” said Sunny who is trying to re-qualify for the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Tour next season. “I haven’t surfed in a few days and I am not used to surfing in booties and gloves. I felt a little sluggish, but as long as I get waves under my feet I am comfortable.”
Only five heats were contested today, with the competition put on hold until the evening as the promise of swell failed to materialise.
But the windy conditions did not stop Sunny putting on a world-class display. “It was fun out there with a lot of waves,” he said. “It’s similar to surfing Diamond Head back home, with really windy choppy waves. The only difference is the wetsuit.”
Despite 12 hours of monitoring the surf, conditions failed to live up to expectations, halting competition until 6.20pm on day four of The O’Neill Highland Open by Swatch.
From howling winds and driving rain to clear blue skies, the reef at Brims Ness witnessed all the elements apart from clean sizeable waves.
“We are dealing with nature at its very challenging best,” said contest director, Matt Wilson. “I am not surprised by what happened today based on my reading of the charts. I am not however saying it is a good thing. There are still positive signs in the forecast. It is going to be a challenge to finish the event in perfect wave quality, but there is good communication with the surfers and they understand that.”
The next call will be Sunday April 27 at 5.30am for a possible 6.00am start.
The O’Neill Highland Open by Swatch runs from 23 to 30 April. It’s not for the faint-hearted – but it is the place where you’ll see the best surfing in Britain this year.
The O’Neill Highland Open by Swatch is organized by O’Neill and supported by Swatch, Red Bull, EventScotland, Visit Scotland and HIE Caithness & Sutherland.