O’Neill World Cup of Surfing: Day 2

EVENTS RUN: Half of Round of 96 of Mens'
CONDITIONS: "As good as it gets"
NATURE'S CALL: Who wants seconds?
PREDICTIONS: Bigger sets, bigger pros, and bigger upsets

When Sunny Garcia makes his appearance in any {{{Vans}}} Triple Crown event, you just can't help but take notice. We know, we know, it's redundant to go on and on about the six-time Triple Crown champ's signature power surfing, but MY GOD from the first time he hits the lip the whole curve gets thrown out the window. Every turn after that just seems smaller by {{{comparison}}}. His Mack truck frame and upside-down, under-the-lip stomp is just so…so, Hawaii. The whole beach just gasps each time he cranks one of those turns. You can feel {{{300}}} yards away. It goes, "Ooofph!"

The judges noticed too, awarding Sunny the highest heat score of the day and raising the bar on the rest of the afternoon. Sunny was struck by a bit of bad luck last week at Haleiwa, showing up late for his heat after a downed telephone pole blocked the Kam Highway for a couple hours. But rest assured, his Triple Crown campaign is still underway, even if he has to paddle out at Pipe uninvited. (Uh, could someone please just go ahead and invite him.)

In less obvious news, Basque surfer Hodei Collazo (you've heard of him, right?) broke his leash and lost his board all the way to the inside. With no back-up board, and no caddy. Desperate for a 7-point ride, he borrowed fellow Spaniard Gony Zubizareta's board (which Gony scored a 10 on at maxing Haleiwa last week), paddled back over and straight into the first Perfect 10 of the event. A huge barrel. An ecstatic claim. A smashing snap. A moment of Spanish history. "[Sunset] is the first wave I surfed when I came to Hawaiifor the first time," said Hodei afterwards. "I needed a good one and I saw the wave, so I went for the barrel. I made it and I was so stoked. This is one of my favorite waves for sure."

The day started with pouring rain, gusting winds, large, funky swell and many a confused look from the soggy beachgoers. But in classic form, Triple Crown director Randy Rarick proved correct once more as the day turned into what local shaper and Sunset regular John Carper called, "As good as it gets out there."

Translation: 8- to 10-foot bombing sets staight out of the northwest, perfect Sunset and only the chargingest surfers making it through their early Round of 128 heats. North Shore locals Daniel Jones and Nathan Carroll — who's houses look onto Sunset from opposite angles — dominated one of the better heats of the day, displaying their local knowledge and a flare for the big stuff. Same for Hawaiians Marcus Hickman and Kekoa Bacalso, who also emerged triumphant from stacked heats.

And now there were only 96 competitors left.

Only 96.

We suggested they just send them all out at once and let them settle this like a normal day at Sunset, but instead, the afternoon launched into more heats, plowing forth towards future all—star heats. Of the early impressions, Flynn Novak is impressing us the best goofyfooter currently out there. Makua Rothman — sporting brand new Hurley logos — continues to look more and more like Sunny Garcia every year. Aussie Nic Muscroft continues to keep his WCT qualifying hopes alive. And Chris Ward did California proud out there. It ain't easy. And it sure as hell ain't over.

Plenty more heats to go, and the swell just keeps getting bigger. Tomorrow's looking like a perfect day to face your computer away from the door to your office and watch the entire web-cast while you pretend to work. We'll be doing the same over here on the beach and in the lineup…pretending to work.

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