Honolulu, HAWAII (Monday, Nov. 29, 2004) – Inspired by last week’s victory at Haleiwa, 34-year-old Sunny Garcia (Waianae, HI) picked up right where he left off as he took to the water in his first appearance of the O’Neill World Cup of Surfing at Sunset Beach today. A rising swell oscillated between the north and west peak at Sunset Beach, delivering waves that ranged from punchy eight feet to heaving close-outs across the channel. Garcia attributed his ease in such a situation to the past four days of Thanksgiving eating.
A five-time Vans Triple Crown of Surfing champion, Garcia posted one of the highest heat scores of the third round in an all-international heat against Danilo Costa (Brazil), Brian Toth (Puerto Rico) and Jarrad Howse (Australia). After one short take-off ride, Garcia posted back-to-back scores of 7.17 and 6.5 points out of 10 for a 13.67 point total that essentially wrapped up the heat by the half-way point. It was just the kind of performance you’d expect from a two-time champion of the event, having won here last in 2000, and once prior to that in 1994.
“I think I got down to 206, 207 (pounds), now I’m back to 211,” Garcia said of his post-Thanksgiving weight. “But in this kind of surf you don’t need to be light.”
While it wasn’t evident in the scores, Garcia had a nerve-wracking start to his performance, arriving to the beach just 10 minutes before the start of his heat, still needing to outfit a new surfboard with fins, leash and wax. But it all became routine once he hit the water.
“Hawaii’s not the place where you need to be shy, you’ve just got to go out and try and take charge. Even though it’s not one of my favorite waves to free-surf, it is one of my favorite waves to compete in. It’s really crowded during the week, yet out here there’s three other guys in the water, a perfect lineup and you get to pick and choose the waves you want.
“Sunset is a big high performance wave. For me it’s fun. Some of these other guys aren’t used to it. They’re not used to getting dragged or held under water. It’s the same deal as Haleiwa. I’ve been surfing out here in events since before they were even born. For me, I watched guys like Michael Ho, Ken Bradshaw, Dane Kealoha and Bobby Owens rule Sunset until their early 30s, late 30s, early 40s and still be able to win. I’m in my mid-30s so I guess I’ve still got some time on my hands.”
Garcia and his rivals experienced the first close-out set of the rising swell this-morning – a wave which stood 15 to 18 feet high before doubling over across the span of the bay.
“You paddle for your life,” said Garcia. “Ian Cairns (former Australian pro) coached me at a young age and he always told me at Sunset that the best thing to do is hold onto your board and let it drag you in until you’re out of the impact zone. I kind of took that advice to heart and always remember that each time I get cleaned up. I think the younger guys get a little intimidated and let go of their board and they get stuck. I don’t know which strategy is better, but mine seems to work for me. 210 pounds helps. I get dragged a long way – it’s like a tug boat and I’m getting pushed in.”
Surfers in the last heats of the round enjoyed some of the most consistent, barreling surf of the day. In the third-last and second-last heats, Australian pair Daniel Ross and Adam Robertson posted the two back-to-back highest scores of the day. First was Ross, from Maclean, NSW, with an unbelievable two-wave total of 17.1 (8.93 and 8.17), and then came Robertson (Portland, Victoria), a relative new-comer to the Hawaii contest scene.
In perfect sync with an ocean that proved to be unreliable for other surfers in the heat, Robertson’s rides were so good that he didn’t even count individual wave scores of 7.5 and 6.5 – scores that others throughout the day would have paid for. His final score line of 16.33 consisted of rides of 8.33 and 8.0 points.
“You don’t usually get barrels that big and thaat round,” said Robertson, who seemed in awe of the experience.
“I’m from a place called Portland, just two hours from the South Australian border. It’s a pretty small town and I live outside of it, out in the bush near the beach. There’s plenty of surf and I get a lot of it to myself. The most people I’d usually see out in the water is about 10 or so. But here it’s totally different. There’s so much hype, so much focus on surfing, so many photographers here on the North Shore. I think if it weren’t a contest I probably wouldn’t be surfing here, so I can see why it so tough for all the Hawaiians.
“This is my sixth year surfing here, but just my second year competing. I usually just surf at Sunset, but I’m not used to getting waves like that. I just like to surf when it’s good.
“I saw Dan get a couple of good waves when I was heading out for my heat. These are his kind of conditions. Usually I struggle to get waves anywhere here – there’s always a lot of guys, I prefer not to hassle, and I don’t think I deserve to get the best waves because I’m not someone who surfs here all the time. I usually just get the scraps. But I guess sometimes it goes your way and when it does, you can do no wrong.”
Other heat winners today included Marcus Hickman (Hawaii), David Weare (South Africa), Pablo Gutierrez (Spain), Mikael Picon (France), Fabio Gouveia (Brazil), and Masatoshi Ohno (Japan).
Wave heights are expected to remain up around eight feet for tomorrow, which would see the top seeds in the event take to the water, including world champion Andy Irons (Hawaii) and former world champion Kelly Slater (Florida).
A satellite feed of highlights from this event will be made available. Details will be circulated at the end of the event.
The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing is made possible through the support of a partnership of the world’s leading brands and media companies including: Ford Trucks, G-Shock, O’Neill, Rip Curl, Surfing Magazine, Surfline.com, Roxy.com, Oahu’s Turtle Bay Resort, The Honolulu Advertiser and Fox Sports Net.
Round 3: Top 2 to round 4, 3rd = 65th, 4th=81st
H1: Marcus Hickman (Haw) 15.33; Travis Logie (SAfr) 6.73; Toby Martin (Aus) 5.3; Sean Moody (Haw) 3.57
H2: David Weare (SAfr) 11.83; Glenn Hall (Aus) 6.0; Ross Williams (Haw) 5.5; Gavin Beschen (CA) 5.4
H3: Nathan Carroll (Haw) 9.56; Jamie O’Brien (Haw) 8.33; Raymond Reichle (Haw) 8.04; Peterson Rosa (Brz) 2.93
H4: Sunny Garcia (Haw) 13.67; Danilo Costa (Brz) 12.27; Brian Toth (PRico) 8.43; Jarrad Howse (Aus) 8.1
H5: Pablo Gutierrez (Spn) 11.8; Renan Rocha (Brz) 11.37; Gabe Kling (USA) 10.17; Jonathan Gonzalez (Cnry) 8.36
H6: Mikael Picon (Fra) 11.4; Ben Bourgeois (USA) 6.9; Russell Winter (UK) 4.8; Bobby Martinez (USA) 2.1
H7: Fabio Gouveia (Brz) 13.67; Darren O’Rafferty (Aus) 9.8; Alain Riou (PYF) 5.57; Tamayo Perry (Haw) 1.93
H8: Daniel Jones (Haw) 10.67; Shaun Cansdell (Aus) 10.33; Paul Canning (SAfr) 5.9; Liam McNamara (Haw) 5.53
H9: Yuri Sodre (Brz) 14.57; Myles Padaca (Haw) 12.77; Marcelo Trekinho (Brz) 12.67; Troy Brooks (Aus) 8.06
H10: Bernardo Pigmeu (Brz) 11.0; Evan Valiere (Haw) 7.1; Jeremy Flores (Reun) 6.27; Joel Centeio (Haw) 4.8
H11: Ian Walsh (Haw) 13.4; Adrian Buchan (Aus) 10.8; Nathan Hedge (Aus) 7.43; Kirk Flintoff (Aus) 7.0
H12: Masatoshi Ohno (Jpn) 12.17; Dustin Cuizon (Haw) 11.77; Victor Ribas (Brz) 5.07; Patrick Bevan (Aus) 4.2
H13: Brian Pacheco (Haw) 14.17; Leonardo Neves (Brz) 9.76; Marcelo Nunes (Brz) 8.44; Mikala Jones (Haw) 7.83
H14: Daniel Ross (Aus) 17.1; Eneko Acero (Spn) 11.73; Dayyan Neve (Aus) 11.0; Beau Emerton (Aus) 6.0
H15: Adam Robertson (Aus) 16.33; Pat O’Connell (USA) 9.67; Tiago Pires (Port) 8.57; Mikey Bruneau (Haw) 8.37
H16: Bede Durbidge (Aus) 12.5; Luke Hitchings (Aus) 11.33; Shinpei Horiguchi (Jpn) 5.57; Guilherme Herdy (Brz) 5.4