After all the hype and expectation, at least the Vans World Cup is underway at Sunset.
While it might have been a lackluster day of surfing to put it mildly, the final WQS comp of the year – the kingmaker event – has begun.
It was by no means good out there, but to be fair the waves were very much contestable. In fact, as a WQS event it could be described as good. There were a few upsets in the early round heats.
Sunset has never really been Jamie O’Brien’s playground. JOB is adept at his back yard of Pipeline. He surfs the events at Sunset because he can, because he is Hawaiian, and because he only surfs events for a very short period of the year – the North Shore winter. He has never really become a Sunset aficionado, not in the realm of his Pipe prowess, and it was clear in day 1. Sunset was small, confusing and tricky, with luck playing a large factor in the day’s proceedings. Luck seemed to desert JOB however, with a 3rd place in heat one of the round 128, losing to Marco Giorgi (URY) and Hawaiian mate Seth Moniz.
In Heat 7 of the same round, Mikey February from Cape Town showed good form, which has followed him around for most of the year. The lanky natural-footer had a good early season run of results and is set to advance into the next realm of WQS surfing with a good seed for next year. On top of that, he is one of the surfers who are still in with a shout, albeit a very slim one, of qualifying for the 2017 Championship Tour. All he needs is a win. Yep, the 52-placed surfer needs to win the Vans World Cup outright to get a slot on the 2017 CT. while it is extremely unlikely, stranger things have happened.
Nathan Hedge, however, did not get the strangeness going his way. He too needed a victory in this event, and the battler must be feeling the fatigue after another year of hard work on the grind. He fell out in heat 6 of the round 128, and once again fell short of his goal of reclaiming his spot on the Championship Tour. The nuggety goofy-footer has been an advocate of clean living for a couple of years now, and his concerted effort to requalify has come agonizingly close at times. One wonders whether he rejoins the grind next year. Other notable eliminations from this event were Sunny Garcia, multiple Triple Crown winner, as well as Bruce Irons. After much fanfare and media support, Bruce came last in his heat against lesser surfers O’Neill Massin (PYF), Heitor Alves (BRA) and Hiroto Ohhara (JPN).
There is a solid swell on the way and it’s expected to make landfall by the weekend. With wave faces predicted to be in the 15 foot range, it will be a different ballpark at Sunset and a whole new set of riders could emerge victorious.
Sunset on a big day is a treacherous wave. Hard enough to master in a freesurf, it is very much a case of luck in a contest heat. Get two waves that run, and you have a good chance of advancing. Suffer one big west set on the head, and you have a good chance of losing. The event webcast can be found here