Danny Fuller, to and through the lip at Sunset en route to his first career victory. Photo: ASP

Danny Fuller, to and through the lip at Sunset en route to his first career victory. Photo: ASP

In his 15 years as a pro surfer, Danny Fuller had never found himself atop the podium at the end of a contest. He’s made finals, yes, but never was chaired up the beach as No. 1. He broke the slump recently at the HIC Pro Sunset, at the ripe age of 32, winning the event and racking up some valuable seeding points as he heads into the Triple Crown season. We caught up with the champ just before Haleiwa to ask him about that view from the top.

You're no stranger to the North Shore, but this latest win has to mark a high point in your career.

For sure. It feels amazing to have stood up there on the podium. Y’know, I feel like I've never been surfing better in my entire life. I've been competing for a long time, but I felt like I really deserved to be up there with that trophy. Last year, my mom was sick so I pulled out of the entire Hawaii season to spend time with her and my family. But she's doing better now and I was able to approach this contest with a lot of confidence and focus. I came out here at the beginning of the waiting period and dialed in all of my boards and reacquainted myself with everything. I told my wife, who's away in California, that this year was going to be special and that I was going to work really hard for it. So far, so good.

Tell me about your relationship with Sunset. It's a historic venue, but still an extremely difficult wave to surf.

That's completely true. You can't just come out to Sunset and have never surfed it before and expect to do well. You'll never make a heat unless you understand the wave. You can't just drop in and expect to go straight up into a turn. The wave doesn't work like that. If you look at a lot of the surfers who do well out here, they're all people who have put in the time. Guys like Pancho Sullivan, Myles Padaca, and Billy Kemper.

You've done well at this event in the past, right? You made the finals a few years back?

Yeah, I think that was in 2008, when I finished third. That final, I psyched myself out before I even put on my rashguard. I was looking around at who I was up against, it was Kamalei Alexander, Pancho, Makua Rothman, and me. I was pretty much just stoked to have even gotten there. But by the end of the heat, I came up shy of actually winning the event. So this time around, I made a point to learn from that last final and I had a lot more self-confidence. To put it simply, I felt confident that I could win and I think that showed.

So, on to the next one?

Well yeah, I'm gonna be surfing in the Triple Crown, trying to secure enough points to compete in the Pipe Masters. But all in all, I'm feeling great and just stoked to be out here and feeling good. I think it's gonna be a great season and with any luck I'll get into Pipe again.