SURF: Head-high and glassy.
EVENTS HELD: Round of 132, Heats 1-10
NATURE’S CALL: You so wish you were out there, huh? Huh?
PREDICTIONS: Fading swell. Increasing carnage.

There’s a whole lot of people standing around. Which, for a surf contest, is fine. Totally normal. Everyone just gawking the six lucky bastards in the otherwise empty Ali’i lineup. The only problem is, all these people just standing around, they’re all surfers. No, not just surfers, competitors. 132 competitors. 66 alternates. It’s a near mind-boggling number. An international array of the surf world’s finest upstarts, locals and grizzled old-dogs. And everyone standing around. Kind of intense. Staring out at these pristine head-high, right-and-left peelers in the warm morning sun with mild winds. A beautiful day, but that’s the furthest thing from everyone’s mind it seems. It’s like standing with a tall cup of coffee and a good book at the starting blocks of an Olympic marathon. Like, geeze, settle down, everyone. But they’re not going to settle down. This is the starting blocks. And for a lucky – no make that talented – few, this is a marathon. The {{{Vans}}} Triple Crown of Surfing, one of the most prestigious events in all surfing, starts right here, and it starts right now.

Out in the water, Heat 2, Tom Curren takes off into the first left of the day, lays back into the small, reeling barrel for a quick hair rinse and secures his position in the next round. Australian Daniel Ross won the heat, and fellow Aussie Luke Munro will advance as well, but three other guys were done right there. Just done. Buh-bye.

That’s the Round of 132 for ya. Sure there’s a baffling number of competitors, but the resulting carnage is most excellent. World class competitors dropping like flies every twenty five minutes. Long lulls wrecking careers. And there were plenty of long lulls. But when the sets came, the lulls were quickly forgotten. And the beautiful carnage of competitive hopefuls marched on.

Non-advancement upsets included Japan’s Masatoshi Ohno and Hawaiians Dustin Barca, Ola Eleogram, and Derek Ho’s failures to advance (man, Derek looked good – he just missed on the points though). Surfers with that giant-slayer glint in their eye might be Australian Bede Durbidge, surfing like a well-oiled contest machine, Hawaiian Mikala Jones dominating an almost all-Hawaiian heat and the out-of-nowhere aerial antics of Aussie Kirk Flintoff drawing plenty of praise from the crowd if only just enough to advance from the judges.

The day ended in the early afternoon when the Kona winds kicked up a bit of chop and contest director Randy Rarick dismissed the hordes of frothing competitors back to their handlers. The waves still looked pretty alright. Conditions most non-Hawaiian might be sprinting towards. But this not non-Hawaii. This is actual Hawaii.

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