Forget about Pancho’s relentless winning at Sunset Beach.This winter, the North Shore’s beloved heavy-foot carried the weight a few steps down the beach to the Backdoor Shootout, where he took out World Champ Andy Irons and fellow Hawaiian big-timers, Shane Dorian and Kalani Robb. In the aftermath, Sullivan may have found his pockets bulging 40K richer, but he lost something even more important, casting a long over due curse off his back.

“I’ve made a few finals at [Pipe and Backdoor events], but I’ve never been able to get a win.” Pancho says. “I spend a lot of time out there free surfing so it feels really good to have finally won.”

After two years of having to cancel the event due to poor conditions, the Da Hui Backdoor Shootout scored well-contestable pits over two days last week. And considering how sickly the North Shore has been over ’03/’04, that itself was a sign of good things to come.

“We had a few days cancelled, and the waves weren’t all-time,” Pancho says, “But there was at least one A-plus wave coming through for every heat, and about {{{80}}} percent of them were opening up for Backdoor.”

And you can be sure that those “A-plus” waves didn’t go unridden. When your judging format involves three rounds of non-elimination, four man heats and only your best three waves scored — not to mention a bunch of frothing Pipe the Irons and Jamie O’Brien — you get competitors scrambling over every dangerous ledge that comes rolling in.

“Andy, Shane, Kalani and Bruce were surfing really good, not holding back at all,” Sullivan says of his competitors. “Everyone in the event was on point, getting 8.5’s and above in their heats.”

How did this Sunset-turned-Backdoor master finally take out the talented and hungry Hawaii boys and the World Champ? Well, it is the Da Hui Backdoor Shootout, after all, and it only takes one wave.

“It was one of those A-plus’ers. I got barreled on the take off, came out, shifted forward but didn’t think I had a chance to make the next section.” Sullivan pauses for a moment and takes a deep breath. “But it’s the Shootout and you’ve gotta go for everything. So I rolled the dice, had enough speed, and broke through the second barrel.”

And just like that, the curse disintegrated. Pancho Sullivan doubled up his massive power and his efforts paid off for a total score of 45 points — judges can award bonus points if they think the wave is better than perfect — a cool check for 40K, and a special reward beyond any pricetag.

“It was finally nice to get that ‘no-wins-at-pipe’ thing off my back.” Sullivan says. “It felt real good.” Andrew LewisFinal resultsIndividual1, Pancho Sullivan (Da Boys) $40,000
2, Andy Irons (Billabong), $20,000
3, Shane Dorian (Billabong), $10,000 4, Kalani Robb (Da Boys), $6,000
5, Bruce Irons (Volcom), $5,000
6, Jamie O’Brien (Red Bull), $4,000
7, Myles Padaca (Da Hui)
8, Kolea Fukumitsu (Hurley-2)
9, Mark Healey(Quiksilver)
10, Brian Pacheco (Billabong)Team1, Da Boys, 392.2 points. 2, Billabong, 339.2. 3, Quiksilver, 314.0. 4,Volcom, 292.2. 5, Hurley-1, 283.3. 6, Da Hui, 282.7. 7, Hurley-2, 275.2.8, Red Bull, 272.2.