CONDITIONS: 3-6 feet and holding
HEATS HELD: The rest of Men's Round of 96 and all Women's Round of 44 and Round of 32
NATURE'S CALL: Who doesn't like a good rain shower every hour
PREDICTIONS: Airs. On 6'6" step-ups. Lots of them. By lots of dudes. Maybe even girls. But Jordy's gonna stick the first one
Even Triple Crown contest director Randy Rarrick was surprised. Sure, yesterday was pretty damn good, but things seemed to be eroding fast. "You never know," he says as we stare off through the steamy morning at a chunky 6-foot set. Phil MacDonald drives hard off a meaty one, disappears in the trough, then reappears just in time to carve the thing like a juicy Thanksgiving turkey. "Nice," Rarrick says as he dissolves back into the bowels of the Reef Hawaiian Pro tent city. Pancho Sullivan leans against a palm tree and shoots the sh*t with Rainos Hayes. They're impressed. And then there's 17-year-old Coco Ho lounging in the sand with her buddy Sage Erickson, waxing up a fresh pinny. She and Sage are up as soon as the boys finish the Round of 96 heats. It's not giant out there, but it's solid. We chat for a minute about boat trips and Indo and sponsors and what not. She's unfazed by the surf; she's from here so no big deal. But none of the other ladies are spooked either. If anything, they can't wait to get out there and show the boys that this ain't all their show.
But there was one episode that had to air before the girls took over: The Jordy Show, of course. Looking for something juicier? Sorry. Maybe you — in some sadistic, underdog-loving way — hoped the predictables wouldn't get their way. We're all guilty of feeling this way from time to time. But Jordy, he's good you know, and he's taking chances out there that even your Dusty Payne and Hank Gaskell's are not. Jordy is by no means at risk of falling off the Tour, but he's still got some critics to shut up. Especially here in Hawaii. And Triple Crown victories usually help out with stuff like that.
Not even halfway through the heat, he had Brazilians Wiggolly Dantas and Paublo Paulino and Reunion's Hugo Savalli comboed and scrapping for second. It was a flash of competitive domination that we haven't seen out of him since his 'QS campaign last year. So he loosened up. The shifty, shallow Toilet Bowl end section became the object of his desire. For the rest of the heat he largely ignored the outside sections and opted to go a thousand miles an hour and soar. He did — like nobody has dared to yet. He may not have made anything, but you could feel the tension level go up a notch in the competitor's area. Hank Gaskell — who is currently one of the bigger threats out here — sat quietly and watched, no doubt realizing the early rounds honeymoon is officially over. Satisfied, Jordy bellied in early, turned in his white singlet, said nothing to anyone, grabbed his back-up boards and disappeared. Full Slater psych out.
"I heard there's some good ones a Backdoor," Hana boy Dege O'Connell says to Hank, obviously itching to get the hell out of here. "And Rockies for sure." And that was that. The boys packed up and cleared out.
It's interesting, you know, watching the competitor's area shift from the men to women. The quiet and cliquey atmosphere turns to a chattering glob of BFFs. Talk of strategy and chicks and beer fades to gossip and giggling about god knows what. The feeling of competitiveness all but disappears, as if these ladies could care less who goes home and who takes it all, so long as they can all hang out together and talk about nothing like only girls can do.
This all holds true until they're out in the lineup. That, you probably predicted too. But seriously — in less than a handful of heats, more jockeying went down than we've seen come out of the entire first three men's rounds. And not only that, but impressive surfing in waves that would keep a lot of regulars and every weekend warrior beached. This, friends, is not Swamis.
And like Macca did in the morning, the ladies imitated all day. There was no shortage of bombs caught and full rail carving. Local girl Carissa Moore surfed her way out of a winner-takes-all "surf off" that played like a one heat trials, where the victor gained entry into the main event. From there she went on to win both her Round of 44 and 32 heats. But for shear power and second-take surfing, it was Australia's Laura Enever. Enever, a comparatively unknown competitor among standouts like Moore, Coco, Malia Manuel, Monica Byrne Wickey and Claire Bevilacqua among others surfed with a stroke of power above the rest. She went on to advance through both rounds.
In the afternoon, under threatening clouds, Rarrick reemerges from the bowls of contest headquarters. He's still smiling. Today was a gift that not many expected. "We'll see about tomorrow," somebody says as they check the yet to be decided match-ups. "Forecast isn't that great." Rarrick disregards and decides to go check on the competitor's area. So far, things have been running just fine despite everyone's expert opinions. It's the North Shore after all…there'll be waves.
To see all the live action, go to: www.TripleCrownOfSurfing.com. And for all your daily wrap-ups, keep it here at surfingthemag.com.