"Not yet, Kai. It's not over yet," said an excited Bruce Irons. There was still just over a minute left in the final. "Naah, it's over," replied Kai Garcia. With those confident words spoken, the pack consisting of Dustin Barca, Kai Garcia, and Bruce Irons grabbed a couple of frosty Bud Lights out of a cooler and raced down the beach to greet Makua Rothman, the champion of the 2007 O'Neill World Cup of Surfing.
Garcia had reason to be confident. Rothman's last wave in the dying moments of the final seemed as if it were destined. Needing a 9-point ride to overtake Brazilian Leonardo Neves and take the win, it seemed like Rothman had an impossible task ahead of him. Throughout the final day, winds from an oncoming front tore the 10-foot sets apart, leaving conditions contestable, but nevertheless difficult. But there it was, an outside double-overhead bomb, moving in from the west heading right towards Rothman. A few aggressive strokes later and he was freefalling down the face. Rothman followed up with a sweeping bottom turn that placed him square underneath a heaving Sunset lip. He pulled in, followed his tuberide up with a powerful gouge under the lip, and effectively secured his win. Game over.
You've gotta give it to Makua. He had a stacked heat to say the least. With 10-foot bombs feathering through the windy lineup and surfing against the likes of current world champion Mick Fanning, Australian Daniel Ross—who surfed through six rounds to make the final—and Brazilian Leonardo Neves, Makua got the job done and took home a win in his own backyard.
During the awards ceremony, a visibly emotional Makua took the microphone. Sharp cries from North Shore locals broke through the victory speech. "Yeah Makua!" The champ smiled and said, "…I'm having a tough time talking right now, I'm just so stoked to win this contest…I bled, cried, got my ass kicked, everything, on this beach. It's just a blessing to make it."
There was more to Sunset today than meets the eye. Aside from the event itself, the O'Neill World Cup marked the final event of the 2007 WQS season. For those surfers on the bubble, this event was the be-all-end-all of the season. If they surfed well and advanced, they secured themselves a coveted position on the Dream Tour. For those who couldn't put it together, it was back to the grind—another season on the 'QS.
There's one jewel left in the Triple Crown, and it's the big one: Pipeline, so stay tuned.
Results of the O'Neill World Cup of Surfing:
1. Makua Rothman
2. Leonardo Neves
3. Mick Fanning
4. Daniel Ross
As of press time, these surfers hold a position on 2008 ASP WCT: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Dane Reynolds (Ca.), Rodrigo Dornelles (Brz), Jay Thompson (Aust), Tiago Pires (Port), Aritz Aranburu (Euk), Adrian Buchan (Aust), Ben Bourgeois (Fla), Jihad Khodr (Brz), Kieren Perrow (Aust), Jeremy Flores (Fra), Roy Powers (Haw), CJ Hobgood (Fla), Heitor Alves (Brz), Mikael Picon (Fra), Adriano de Souza (Brz), Daniel Ross (Aus), Royden Bryson (ZAF).
For all of the up-to-date coverage from the rock, stay tuned to Surfermag.com