WORLD CHAMPION POWERS TO VICTORY
World champion-elect Sunny Garcia became Hawaii’s most successful pro surferever with a convincing victory in today’s final of the 2000 Rip Curl Cup atHawaii’s Sunset Beach – the year’s final Association of SurfingProfessionals (ASP) World Qualifying Series (WQS) tournament.
In magnificent three to four metre surf, Garcia survived a near-drowning inan earlier heat today to claim his second Sunset Beach title with a powerfuldisplay, surfing four times in the testing conditions to eventually claimthe US$10,000 first prize.
The 2000 Rip Curl Cup was a six-star WQS competition (the highest grade),carrying US$100,000 total prize money and the final results have a majorbearing on the surfers who qualify for next year’s World Championship Tour(WCT).
Today’s Rip Curl Cup final saw 30-year-old Garcia overcome three of thesurfing world’s most exciting youngsters – 20-year-old Portuguese rookieTiago Pires (runner-up in the World Pro Junior Championship last month)taking second place and US$5,000, 22-year-old Hawaiian Andy Irons, thecurrent world number 24, ending in third place with US$4,000; and20-year-old defending Rip Curl Cup champion Zane Harrison, of Queensland’sSunshine Coast, finishing in fourth place and walking away with US$3,000.
Despite becoming the most successful Hawaiian surfer ever, Garcia was humblein accepting today’s victory. He said: “To me, Dane Kealoha (Hawaiian surfstar of the 1980s) will always be the best Hawaiian surfer ever. I don’teven know what it would take to get to his level and I’d never considermyself in the same league. He’s been my idol since I started surfing atseven years of age.”
“I knew going into the final that it was going to be hard. Paddling out forthe final my arms were cramping. The other surfers beat me out and I waspaddling as fast as I could. I didn’t even know when I came in that I hadwon. A win was a long way from a near-drowning in the first heat,” Garciasaid.
“In my first heat of the morning I grabbed a little wave and the whitewashhit me, I fell and got dragged quite a long way and couldn’t get up for air.I was right beneath the surface and I could feel my hands out of water, butevery time I took a deep breath I swallowed water,” Garcia said.
After clinching his first world championship in Brazil in October after 15years on tour, Garcia has now all but won a record fifth Vans Triple Crown -the world’s most prestigious event series. The final jewel in the crown, theMountain Dew Pipeline Masters, looks set to be the crowning moment ofGarcia’s career.
The Hawaiian veteran is the first surfer in 13 years to win back-to-backTriple Crown events. The last to do so was Australian Gary Elkerton in 1987.The only person who can mathematically overtake Garcia for the 2000 TripleCrown title is fellow Hawaiian Kaipo Jaquias, but the odds are stackedagainst him. Jaquias would have to emerge as one of two to survive the PipeMasters Trials and then go on to take first place in the year’s final WCT,while Garcia would have to lose in his first heat.
Harrison’s dream of joining another Hawaiian great, Michael Ho, as the onlyback-to-back winners at Sunset in the tournament’s 26-year history was introuble at the halfway mark of the 35-minute final when he had caught justtwo rides and fallen on both. However, he did produce the performance of theevent in the quarter-finals, beating Garcia, and making the final for thesecond year running has earned the young Australian his second start in thePipeline Masters Trials, a significant achievement that enhances his growingreputation.
The Triple Crown now moves to its third and final stop, Pipeline, for the30th anniversary Pipeline Masters, with a waiting period from December 9 to21. As the final stop on the ASP World Championship Tour (WCT) for the year,the Pipe Masters will determine the elite WCT Top 44 competitor lineup for2001.
RIP CURL CUP FINAL DAY RESULTS (names in order of placing):
Round 4: 1st & 2nd advance
H1: Sunny Garcia (Haw), Paul Paterson (Aus), Armando Daltro (Brz), RossWilliams (Haw)
H2: Liam McNamara (Haw), Zane Harrison (Aus), Peter Mendia (USA), MarkOcchilupo (Aus)
H3: Joel Fitzgerald (Aus), Cory Lopez (USA), Nathan Hedge (Aus), HeathWalker (Aus)
H4: Edgar Bishoff (Brz), Paul Canning (SAfr), Andrew King (Aus), JoelParkinson (Aus)
H5: Kaipo Jaquias (Haw), Tiago Pires (Port), Greg Emslie (SAfr), Derek Ho(Haw)
H6: Kalani Robb (Haw), Tom Whitaker (Aus), Toby Martin (Aus), C.J. Hobgood(USA)
H7: Shane Beschen (USA), Andy Irons (Haw), Renan Rocha (Brz), Taj Burrow(Aus)
H8: Sasha Stocker (Aus), Phillip McDonald (Aus), Damien Hobgood (USA),Richard Lovett (Aus)
Quarter Finals: 1st & 2nd advance
H1: Zane Harrison (Aus), Sunny Garcia (Haw), Liam McNamara (Haw), PaulPaterson (Aus)
H2: Paul Canning (SAfr), Cory Lopez (USA), Joel Fitzgerald (Aus), EdgarBishoff (Brz)
H3: Kaipo Jaquias (Haw), Tiago Pires (Port), Kalani Robb (Haw), TomWhittaker (Aus)
H4: Andy Irons (Haw), Sasha Stocker (Aus), Phillip McDonald (Aus), ShaneBeschen (USA)
Semi-Finals: 1st & 2nd to Final
H1: Sunny Garcia (Haw), Zane Harrison (Aus), Paul Canning (SAfr), Cory Lopez(USA)
H2: Tiago Pires (Port), Andy Irons (Haw), Kaipo Jaquias (Haw), Sasha Stocker(Aus)
1. Sunny Garcia (Hawaii) – 18.05 points out of 30
2. Tiago Pires (Portugal) – 14.85
3. Andy Irons (Hawaii) – 14.25
4. Zane Harrison (Australia) – 7.70