All Photos: Brent Bielmann
When it rained on Sunday, it poured. And it rained all day. Black squalls of wind, water and lightning swept through Sunset Beach but with the swell forecasted to fade by Monday, event director Marty Thomas stood on the bow of the judges' scaffolding, laughed in the face of the storm and called the contest on. A brave and wise decision. The waves poured in as steadily as the rain and competitors got barreled, laid rail and even leapt into the air. And while the day began with superstars like Kelly Slater, Dane Reynolds and John John Florence among the favorites, it was a motley crew of dark horses that was left standing. The tallest of them was 20-year-old Ezekiel Lau — looking like Hercules in his physique and aggressive approach — who took home the Vans World Cup and with it is tied with Michele Bourez for the Triple Crown going into Pipeline.
Other notable moments of the day:
- —Kelly Slater still can't manage a win at Sunset, a fact that's almost as confounding as that left barrel he got on Saturday.
- —Dane Reynolds is hungry. He is actually waking up early and practicing at the contest site, and that's about as exciting of a development as any. (He's still Dane though, as demonstrated in his burning Kiron Jabour who was hassling him toward the end of their Round of 32 heat.)
- —John John nearly sticking that alley-oop, and other aerials throughout the day by several surfers, demonstrates a refreshing approach to what can sometimes be a boring wave to watch.
- —Frederico Morais of Portugal, at just 21 years old, took down guys like Sunny Garcia, Mitch Coleborn and John John en route to a fourth place finish and a Triple Crown rookie of the year title. He's one to watch on the 'QS next year.
- —Has Damien Hobgood surfed an event this year where he didn't splash water or yell at someone? Call it fire, spice, passion or tantrums. Doesn't matter. It's entertaining as f–k and it's fantastic. With this second place finish and a solid result at Pipe, Damo might requalify.
- —With his third place finish, Raoni Monteiro might also requalify.
- —Ezekiel Lau is a beast. He is fit and motivated and talented — the second coming of Sunny Garcia, but with better style and an air game. He will qualify for the 2015 world tour.