O’Neill World Cup of Surfing: Day 5

HEATS HELD: Last of Round of 64
CONDITIONS: 15-20 foot Sunset, wild and wooly
NATURE'S CALL: Get it while it's hot
PREDICTIONS: A big crazy final at Sunset (weeee!)

"Borderline contestable." That was how big-wave charger Ian Walsh described the conditions at Sunset after an pre-contest surf. "Any bigger, and guys shouldn't really be out there."

Ian was being casual about it, but the truth is, contestable or not, they pretty much had to run some heats today, because they swell's not getting any smaller and time's not getting any longer.

"It's definitely not too small," agreed Michael Ho. "Hopefully everyone's safe out there. Normally, I'd say it's every man for himself in a heat, but today I been telling people to watch out for their fellow surfers."

Yeah, it's like that. Bombing. Washing through. Victory at sea. Sets on the horizon. Jet Ski assist. No caddies in the water. And we gotta get within striking distance of a final cause there's only three days left and way to much swell predicted.

This is Sunset Beach -- deal with it.

Keiren Perrow dealt with it. Taj Burrow and Jeremy Flores dispelled any big wave doubts by winning their heats. Tom Whitaker, Phil MacDonald, Jordy Smith, and Bruce Irons all advanced to the Round of 32. And check out the Europeans: Jeremy Flores, Tiago Pires, and Hodei Collazo all making heats -- not to mention the Euro presence on next year's WCT. It's been a new era for the old world.

Bottom line though: these are Sunny Garcia conditions. Everyone else just looks small. But Sunny looks normal size. Which is to say, huge. And even then, he's struggling out there today. Close-outs. Wash-throughs. Really tough conditions. "Survivability," was a term ASP president {{{Rabbit}}} Bartholomew used. Sunny advanced with a total score of 8.83, with Phil Macca on his heels with an 8.5. Not impressive scores, but at least they were scoring. Others looked just happy to make it back to the beach.

The next two heats you could barely see. That's how stormy the sea was getting. The finished the round, and called it a day.

Now there's just one day of competition left. And no shortage of swell. Sunny, Mick, Bruce and Taj are all still in the running. Bede Durbidge is leading the ratings for the {{{Vans}}} Triple Crown (even more so, after Parko lost his heat today). And locals TJ Baron, Ian Walsh, Makua Rothman and Flynn Novak are all keeping their eye on the prize.

Start holding your breath, cause a big one's coming.

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