EVENTS RUN: Round of 96 and half of Round of 64… we're getting there.
NATURE'S CALL: Still going…
PREDICTION: Girls gone wild; Roxy Pro goes start to finish.
Less than a minute after Sunny Garcia's entrance into the Op Pro Hawaii and the event had it's first Perfect 10. Surprised? Then you haven't been paying attention. Two huge hacks, two deep tube rides, 'nother hefty hack, and the judges were already popping their champagne corks. Op surf legend Larry Bertlemann just chuckled and said, "Yeah, wait till you see his next one." Sunny's been surfing here since he was seven. Competing in this event since he was 16. Won it six times. He was gentleman enough to paddle back out and catch his second wave, but the message had already been sent. "I may be retiring," said the 2000 world champ, "but that doesn't mean I'm done surfing."
Andy Irons floats the heavy sections
The bar had been officially raised. And for the rest of the afternoon, it was basically a game of limbo. Plenty of great surfing from 'CT standouts like Luke Stedman, Mick Fanning and Tom Whitaker, but the only ones to even come close to Sunny's thunderous entrance were his own North Shore friends and prodigies Fred "Pit Bull" Patacchia, Myles "Pick Your Trash" Padaca and Joel "Sent 'em Packing" Centeio, who each dominated their respective heats. They're all solid bets for second place (just kidding, guys).
But hold on, this contest moves pretty fast from here on in, and it's important to give some props to guys who've hung in there since the first round while the high seeds come in stealing all the thunder so late in the game. Gotta show some respect for guys like Jamie O'Brien, Kaipo Jaquias, Maz Quinn, Leigh Sedley and Brett Simpson, who've all dominated multiple heats to face off with the all stars just rocking up. Keep up the good fight boys. Now about that limbo game that Sunny started. Well, if Sunny raised the bar, then three-time world champ Andy Irons karate chopped it. If Sunny picked his two waves and nailed 'em, Andy took every other wave that came in and built a friggin' Quonset hut. Without question, AI pulled out the biggest maneuvers, but he never really connected 'em all together. Whatever. It was still awesome to witness. And it's early yet.
Mick Fanning survived Round 3, but now he faces Sunny Garcia, Taylor Knox and Fred Patacchia in Round 4
We're calling it here and now, this fast approaching final is going to be heavy on the Hawaiian-side, and it's going to go big. Seven's a popular number this year.
For the live webcast of the OP Pro Haleiwa, please visit www.TripleCrownofSurfing.com/Haleiwa