449SUNSET BEACH, HI – Thurs. Dec.3, 2009 – The O’Neill World Cup of Surfing can lay claim to running in the largest surf ever contested in the 27-year history of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing presented by Rockstar Energy Drink. Waves were at the outside limit of contestable, topping out this morning at 20 to 25 feet and often closing out totally across the bay. But with a forecast for even larger swells on the way, it was full steam ahead. Organizers anticipate that the final day of competition will be held tomorrow. With very little beach remaining, there is serious concern that all remaining sand will be lost to Saturday’s extra-large swell.

Six-time Vans Triple Crown champion and two-time O’Neill World Cup champion Sunny Garcia (HI) was about the only surfer smiling when he stepped onto what remained of the beach. He advanced to the quarter finals and is in good shape to have a shot at his 7th Triple Crown title, which boasts an added $50,000 bonus this winter.

Alejo Muniz
Above: Alejo Muniz (Brz) on a beautiful blue monster. The Brazilian won the Nose Guard Rookie of the Year today. Credit: Kirstin Scholtz

“They say be careful what you wish for, you know?” said Sunny. “I wanted big waves and we got big waves. It’s almost too big. You go out there and hope you get two waves.

“Some of the sets are kind of big and go into the channel. The takeoff seems like it’s going to be a big wave and it turns into a 4-foot mush burger, so wave selection is crucial today. I’m having fun watching some of the kids sit on the shoulder and they didn’t want any part of it. That’s what I wanted to see!

“Physically, I’ve been doing four hours of cardio before anyone gets up, so this is fun. I’m having a good time. I’m not using that much energy and as long as you don’t get caught inside you’re pretty good.

“I rode an 8’4″ and it’s easier to sneak in and sneak out, and just in case you gotta get out of the way it’s easier to paddle.”

Aussie Adam Melling stepped up his game to post the highest heat score of the day and the second highest heat score of the event: 16.5 out of a possible 20. Melling looked sharp and managed to crank off some critical vertical turns, proving he’ll be a threat next year on the 2010 World Championship Tour.

“I could just hear a few scores, heard I got a good first one and just tried to back it up,” said Melling. “It was hard out there. I stayed inside, it was a bit cleaner. I took a 7’0″ board, a bit thicker and wider, but you need it to get into them out there. I didn’t bring anything bigger.”

Although he posted the highest two-wave total of the day, Melling failed to advance out of his Round of 32 heat and was eliminated by fellow Australians Kai Otton and Joel Parkinson.

The Gudauskas brothers had their own campaign going today and all three of them found themselves in the same heat come the round of 32. This was the first time in ASP history that three brothers surfed together in a heat. Patrick has qualified for the elite Dream Tour in 2010, and twin brother Dane is out of WCT contention this year. Youngest Gudauskas brother, Tanner, won the round of 32 heat with North Shore native Mason Ho advancing behind in second. Today’s result at Sunset Beach guarantees Tanner entry into the 2010 World Championship Tour.

“I owe a lot to Pat and Dane [Gudauskas] because they were like having caddies in the water, and Mason [Ho] as well,” said Tanner. “It was like a gentlemen’s heat. I couldn’t have thought of three other people I would have wanted to have a heat out there.

“I think Pat and Dane were testing me and making sure I was pushing them so that they didn’t just give it to me. I would have done the same for them. I actually had an opportunity last year with Pat and he was in the same spot and I tried to help him out, but this year I had both of them. It was epic.”

Patrick, who was eliminated in the Round of 32 with twin brother Dane, said it was a special heat for the brothers.

“We were saying before the heat that we haven’t had each other all together in one heat since we were amateurs, like five or six years ago,” said Patrick. “And, to have it for Tanner to be the biggest heat of his life, he’s just been ripping so hard all day, we were just out there hooting for him because we just wanted him to get through it and go the distance.

“We didn’t have a strategy going into the heat, but we wanted Tanner to get through for sure. It was definitely the priority and you don’t have too many opportunities to help out someone in that situation. Surfing with him next year will be a dream come true.”

Brazilians Alejo Muniz and Jihad Khodr had noteworthy performances today. Khodr posted the highest scoring ride of the day, a 9.67 out of a possible 10 points. The high score came in the form of a big, gaping barrel and followed it up with a giant carve on a 10-foot wave. In addition, Muniz won the Nose Guard Rookie of the Year by making the round of 32.

For all of the LIVE action log on to www.triplecrownofsurfing.com. Find out the call for the day, each day, as soon as it’s made by Director Randy Rarick by signing up for mobile text alerts at triplecrownofsurfing.com. When competition resumes, all the action will be broadcast live on the web at triplecrownofsurfing.com, as well as on Hawaii television on Oceanic channel 250.

Making the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing presented by Rockstar Energy Drink possible: Reef, O’Neill, Billabong, Gidget Worldwide, Nixon, Turtle Bay Resort, Hawaiian Airlines, JN Automotive Group, Surfing Magazine, Surfline.com, FUEL TV, The Honolulu Advertiser, Hawaiian Springs Water, Road Runner, Climb On! chemical-free skincare, and the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP). The Series is proud to announce that it is working with local company Tr3ees to embark upon a greener, more sustainable future.

Round of 64:
H9: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Mason Ho (HAW), John John Florence (HAW), Pablo Paulino (BRA)
H10: Adam Melling (AUS), Patrick Gudauskas (USA), Drew Courtney (AUS), Phillip MacDonald (AUS)
H11: Tanner Gudauskas (USA), Dion Atkinson (AUS), Jordy Smith (ZAF), Wiggolly Dantas (BRA)
H12: Dane Gudauskas (USA), Kai Otton (AUS), Blake Thornton (AUS), Gabe Kling (USA)
H13: Taylor Knox (USA), Austin Ware (USA), Dean Morrison (AUS), Nathan Yeomans (USA)
H14: Adrian Buchan (USA), Alejo Muniz (BRA), Rodrigo Dornelles (BRA), Flynn Novak (HAW)
H15: Brett Simpson (USA), Aritz Aranburu (EUK), Nic Muscroft (AUS), Michael Picon (EUK)
H16: Bede Durbidge (AUS), Sunny Garcia (HAW), Sebastien Zietz (HAW), Granger Larsen (HAW)
Round of 32:
H1: Kekoa Bacalso (HAW), Glenn Hall (IRL), Bernardo Miranda (BRA), William Cardoso (BRA)
H2: Jihad Khodr (BRA), Torrey Meister (HAW), Luke Munro (AUS), Nat Young (USA)
H3: Mick Fanning (AUS), Daniel Ross (AUS), Chris Davidson (AUS), Shane Beschen (HAW)
H4: Pancho Sullivan (HAW), Dusty Payne (HAW), Joan Duru (FRA), Neco Padaratz (BRA)
H5: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Kai Otton (AUS), Adam Melling (AUS), Dion Atkinson (AUS)
H6: Tanner Gudauskas (USA), Mason Ho (HAW), Dane Gudauskas (USA), Patrick Gudauskas (USA)
H7: Sunny Garcia (HAW), Taylor Knox (USA), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Aritz Aranburu (EUK)