HALEIWA, OAHU, HAWAII – OCTOBER 31, 2009 – An exciting Day 1 has completed at the 2009 Xcel Pro Presented by Honolua, with key contenders Pancho Sullivan, Joel Centeio, and Andy Irons all advancing to meet each other in the same Round of 32 heat.
Positioning was the name of the game today as the long period NW swell built slowly over a fading earlier system, creating a fair variety of take-off opportunities from off the point over to the west peak. Starting the morning overhead, Sunset improved to good overhead sets in the afternoon, with moderate trades throughout.
Highest-scoring wave of the day went to Sunset specialist Makua Rothman in Round 2, stalling into one of the larger set waves and grabbing one of the few barrels of the afternoon – made all the more dramatic after breaking a board on his prior takeoff. Throwing in some strong hacks after his cover-up, Rothman’s wave rang up a 9.8, easily advancing into Round 3.
Rothman has made the Xcel Pro finals in each of the past 3 consecutive years.
Defending and 4X Xcel Pro champion Pancho Sullivan advanced out of his Round 2 (Round of 64) heat and will have a chance to add a 5th Xcel Pro title to his extensive resume. Sullivan will meet 3X world champion and 1997 Xcel Pro winner Andy Irons in his next heat, along with 2007 Xcel Pro champ Joel Centeio, who surfed twice today after gaining a last-minute alternate slot into Round 1.
“[Sunset’s] got power, it’s a pretty big playing field out there,” Centeio said after his second heat today. “It’s great to kick off the season with the Xcel Pro… I’m glad I got in this year.”
2000 ASP WCT world champion and ’92 Xcel Pro winner Sunny Garcia also advanced out of his Round 2 heat with a clutch last-minute ride to move into the second qualifying position. Garcia will meet early-round standouts Charlie Carroll and Kaupena Miranda in his Round of 32 heat.
All in all, 3 former world champions (Irons; Garcia; Derek Ho) and 9 Xcel Pro champions are still contenders in the event.
At stake in this year’s Xcel Pro are a chunk of the $25,000 prize purse and a Tahiti trip with entry into the 2010 VonZipper Teahupoo Trials, with a shot at a wild card in the WCT Billabong Pro Tahiti.
With the current swell expected to hold through tomorrow, the event is potentially looking at crowning an Xcel Pro champion this weekend on its second and final day of competiton.
For Sunday’s call, as well as heat results, photos, and daily video recap, check out the official event Web site at xcelpro.xcelwetsuits.com.
Official Xcel Pro merchandise is available exclusively online via presenting sponsor Honolua’s Web shop at store.honoluasurf.com.
About the Xcel Pro
Celebrating its 26th anniversary this year, the 2009 Xcel Pro Presented by Honolua is a 2-Star ASP WQS event with a $25,000 purse, drawing pros and amateurs alike to world-class Sunset Beach along Oahu’s North Shore.
Honolua Surf Co. is the presenting sponsor of the event and is joined by associate sponsors VonZipper, Kustom, and Surfline. Surf News Network also supports the event as the official contest hotline (808-596-7873).