SURF: Six feet and north/northwest…or is it west/northwest?
EVENTS HELD: Men's Trials, Round One
NATURE'S CALL: I'm so confused today
PREDICTED: The wicked witch of the northeast starts a blowin' again

No matter the size, no matter the conditions, Sunset Beach always offers an entire North Shore bulletin board worth of challenges. Today's biggest worry, when the first two rounds forged ahead in a clean, 6-foot combo swell? Don't get caught in the middle. "It's the worst size for me," said North Shore charger Tamayo Perry, who failed to advance out of his first heat. "I get worried about the guys on the west bowl, worried about the guys up on the point, and I end up getting stuck somewhere in between."

A handful of Sunset specialists would concur. Today you would have most likely passed if you were looking for a traditional Sunset surf. It was in between sizes, in between board lengths, too small to call it solid but too solid to call it small….a day that was torture for the indecisive. But as North Shore/WQS veteran Jesse Merle Jones found, these are the days when a set game plan pays off. "I stuck to one board, a 6'8"," said Merle Jones, "and also noticed a lot of guys kept paddling too far up the point. So I stayed wide, and fortunately one of those west wedges came my way and just opened up for me. I definitely had fortune on my side."

The wedge was good for a 9.33 and one of the highest combined heat totals of the day. After a foot injury from Pipe kept him out much of the year, Kauaian Merle Jones is finally feeling the fire again with two convincing heat wins today. He's one of the half-dozen Hawaiians who rely on their dominance in these events to carry them through the rest of the year. "We've seen it happen a couple times now with guys like Pancho," he said. "I think it's inspired a few of us to know that it can happen."

Other big advancements were decorated North Shore general Derek Ho, qualifying hopefuls Kirk Flintoff and Kai Otton and charger Kieren Perrow, who only gets started at 6 to 8 feet.

Just like Sunset.