O’neill World Cup of Surfing: Day 1

South African Rudy Palmboom, 22, claimed a whole new fan base in Hawaii today, trumping the scores in the opening round of the O’Neill World Cup of Surfing, the second stop of the annual Vans Triple Crown of Surfing.

Palmboom found perfect rhythm and placement in the double-overhead surf to close with the highest individual wave score (8.67 points out of 10) and two-wave heat total (15.34) of the men’s opening day. Sunset Beach leaned more towards playful today, as opposed to its reputation of being one of the more punishing surf spots on the planet.

“It’s pretty fun out there and a lot bigger than I thought it would be,” said Palmboom. “I got an 8.67, a nice little barrel. I lucked into a good wave straight after the siren. It’s more spread out and there’s a lot of waves coming through, which makes it a lot more fair.

“I’ve been coming to Hawai’i since I was 15, 7 years now, and this is my third Triple Crown. I do surf here quite a bit and I’ve started to enjoy this wave. I haven’t had too many heats actually, which is quite a bummer, but I’ve learned to love it.”

Brazil’s Bernardo Miranda was another high scorer today, logging an 8.0 in his heat but failing to advance with a lackluster second ride that saw him bundled out of the competition prematurely. His fellow countryman Yuri Sodre enjoyed better results, advancing with a win over Hawaii’s Jesse Merle-Jones and Clay Marzo, and Missias Felix (Brazil).

“I’ve been coming here since I was really young, since I was thirteen, so I really enjoy surfing this wave,” said Sodre. “There is no fights. It’s kind of hard to see people in the water. It’s such a special place, such a beautiful beach with a good vibe. And it’s such a powerful wave too, you can get barrels, you can do turns. For me it’s amazing to have a chance to surf only with four guys at Sunset.”

Californians experienced a mixed bag today with two advancing and two going home: San Clemente’s Chris Ward and San Diego’s Austin Ware progressed through the round while Tim Reyes (Huntington Beach) and Chris Waring (Seal Beach) were eliminated.

“That heat was really hard, a lot of positioning and not too many waves to choose from so I went on whatever I thought was good,” said Ward.

“Being off the (elite World Tour) I get a lot of open time to surf different waves year round. But to be back here at Sunset and the Triple Crown feels good. I’m happy to be here. I could be at home in the rain, but I love surfing the Triple Crown and being part of this whole program out here.”

Hawaii’s sure-bet Sunset crew of Joel Centeio, Sunny Garcia, Myles Padaca and Pancho Sullivan demonstrated why they are always favorites here, proving tough to beat with their intimate knowledge of positioning and wave selection.

“I was actually a little nervous,” said Centeio. “You come off such a big result like Haleiwa and you want to follow up with another big one.

“I’m just thinking about waves and making heats. It’s still so early in the event and in the Triple Crown race, so just got to make these first couple and get into a good rhythm. Hopefully I’ll be in the final again and then I’ll be sitting pretty for the Triple Crown.”

There will be no competition tomorrow, Thanksgiving Day, so organizers will assess the conditions Friday morning for a possible 8am start.

Live internet coverage happens every day, starting at 7:45 a.m. with “THE CALL” – the Triple Crown’s live daily morning show that features all the latest news, highlights and happenings. The series will also be broadcast live on television around Hawaii on Oceanic Time Warner Digital Cable channels 250 and HD1250.

The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing consists of three men’s and three women’s professional surfing events that are the final stop on the 2010 Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Tour. In its 28th year, the Vans Triple Crown is considered the most prestigious title in surfing next to the ASP World Title.

Each event has an extended holding period with competition taking place on the biggest and best days of surf at each venue.