After the 25th annual Reef Hawaiian Pro kicked off in grand fashion on Monday, it was followed by a much more unpredictable, upset-filled Tuesday, as competition resumed at Haleiwa on another beautiful Hawaiian morning.
With Monday's swell having diminished a bit overnight, Tuesday morning saw some 4-6 foot waves, groomed by the same weather conditions that blessed the first day of competition.
Tuesday would prove to live up to the hype of any Triple Crown event as it was a day of surprises. While surfing's favorite bad boy, Sunny Garcia, kept his momentum going, advancing through two more heats, fellow Hawaiian Joel Centeio wouldn't be as fortunate as he saw his momentum come to a screeching halt in the third round of competition, bowing out much earlier than any triple crown enthusiast had predicted.
Centeio, coming into the competition fresh off a win at the Xcel Pro at Sunset Beach last week, saw his hot hand go cold as he fell to the wrath of Maui's own Granger Larsen, dashing Centeio's hopes of a maiden Triple Crown victory.
Larsen, 19 of Lahaina, Maui, on the other hand, came to surf in the event with no expectations. "I'm psyched because I got in as an alternate." Without having the advantage of being seeded into the later rounds, Larsen has had to fight his way through the round of 96, admitting that you can't rely totally on skill when you get to this level of competition. "The waves are pretty good so anyone can do anything out there… I get lucky, I guess."
Hopefully he can parlay some of that luck into his round of 64 heat, where he'll have to fend off two more fierce Hawaiian competitors in Sunny Garcia and WCT surfer, Fred Patacchia.
With local knowledge of the breaks on the North Shore playing such an important factor in the Triple Crown, the highest total heat score of the event so far was delivered by a competitor who couldn't be farther from home; Gony Zubizareta of Spain's Basque Country.
Zubizareta, 22 of Vigo, Spain, came into the event ranked 91st on the World Qualifying Series, making him the lowest rated competitor in his round four heat. After getting off to a slow start in his heat, Zubizareta was able to turn it on when it counted.
"I was lost in the first half of the heat and couldn't find any waves. I thought I was going to lose and finally a really good wave came and I surfed well so I was stoked. Then I went back to the outside and the best wave of the day came for me." By posting an 8.83 and a 9.77, back to back at the end of the heat, Gony earned himself first place in his heat with a combined wave score of 18.6 as well as a coveted spot in the round of 64. "I'm so lucky and I feel very good. The waves are really fun."
With a larger swell expected to arrive overnight Tuesday, Wednesday should prove to be another exciting day of surfing as the remaining WQS surfers match up against the top 44 surfers in the world in round 4 of competition.