Local Boy Marcus Hickman Dominates Day 1 Of O’Neill World Cup Of Surfing At Sunset Beach

Sunset fires For opening rounds; big wave Aussie Mark Mathews makes his mark

Sunset Beach, Oahu, HI – (Friday, November 28, 2008) — Sunset Beach local Marcus Hickman, 29, proved that quality surf like that on offer today in the O’Neill World Cup of Surfing is all it takes to bring out the best in a surfer. While he predominately only competes in home waters, Hickman is well worthy of being on the international stage when conditions get big and perfect like they did today, coming in with wave face heights of 15-20 feet.

The O’Neill World Cup of Surfing is the second of three men’s events that comprise the annual Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. It is also the final event on the 2008 ASP World Qualifying Series.

Hickman produced the highest single wave score – 9.77, and the highest heat total of 17.94 points in the second-last heat of the day in round two. He is always a dominant force at Sunset when the waves get serious, but somehow he has never reached the winner’s dais in the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. Should the conditions stay big and challenging, he’ll be looking to finally set the record straight.

“I’m very happy,” Hickman said after his heat that included a double-tube ride, flawless positioning and beautiful top-to-bottom carves. “It doesn’t get better than that.

“I was riding my Old Faithful board today. This is my 7’6″ from a couple of winters back. Sunset is such a big area that being in the right spot is more important than how the board works. I had to have a bigger board so I could paddle and catch the right waves.”

ASP Head Touring Judge Perry Hatchett, who has watched Hickman perform over the years, said he is always a stand-out when the waves are like this.

“If you go back over the years and over the events, you’d probably see that Marcus has ultimately only lost heats because he’s lacking a good second score. He’s usually carrying one super high wave, but without a second score, he’s out the event. That wasn’t the case today.”

Nineteen year-old Dusty Payne (Maui) continued on today with the momentum that saw him reach the final of the first event at Haleiwa last week. Payne posted the second-highest heat score of the day: 17.17 points out of 20, and advanced through two rounds.

“I’m stoked to get that first heat out of the way,” Payne said after his round one heat. “It’s always the toughest one and luckily I came out on top.

“I’m so stoked. The forecast for the next week looks amazing so I’m super excited for the end of this event.”

Round two saw the international field open up and Australian big-wave rider Mark Mathews, a recent addition to the O’Neill team, set straight to work. Mathews has earned a reputation in recent years as one of the leading big-wave chargers on tour. He showed today that while he’s here on business, he finds much pleasure in the Hawaiian power on offer.

“I was stoked when I saw the forecast and it was looking like it was pretty big,” said Mathews, 26. “I was just excited to get a few waves out there. Sunset with four people is just a dream.

“It’s about being in the right position. My board is probably four inches longer than what I would normally ride so I can get in the right spot. To have that little extra paddle speed made all the difference, especially when the winds is coming up the face and holds you up in the lip. That little bit of buoyancy helps you get into them in quicker.”

Organizers expect competition to resume at 8am tomorrow morning, with the forecast for the current swell to persist for at least another day.

To examine surf updates for the coming days, visit official forecasters Wetsand.com .

For complete results, please visit: www.triplecrownofsurfing.com

The $815,000 Vans Triple Crown of Surfing consists of the
Reef Hawaiian Pro, Haleiwa, Nov. 12-23 (6* WQS, men and women), the O’Neill World Cup of Surfing, Sunset Beach, Nov.24-Dec.6 (6*WQS men), The Roxy Pro, Sunset Beach, Nov.24-Dec.6 (WCT women), the Billabong Pipeline Masters (men), Pipeline, Dec. 8-20 (WCT); and the Billabong Pro Maui (women), Honolua Bay, Maui, Dec. 8-20 (WCT).

In addition to $815,000 in prize money, which includes a $10,000 bonus for both the men’s and women’s Vans Triple Crown champions, the men’s champion will also receive a custom, one-of-a-kind Nixon tide watch featuring over two-carats of diamonds and valued at over $10,000.