2005 O’Neill World Cup Of Surfing / Triple Crown Event # 2: Day 4 at Sunset Beach

SURF: 12 feet plus and washing, washing through
EVENTS HELD: Men's Round of 32
NATURE'S CALL: You want big Sunset? I'll give you big Sunset.
PREDICTED: Crash-up derby at the Bay

They should have listened to Pancho. Back on Friday, as pristine winds and a 6- to 8-foot swell pulsed occasionally off Sunset Point, Sullivan was the lone surfer who wanted to run the contest. "You never get it this clean," he said. "Monday's probably going to be too big and washing through."

But the boys opted to roll the dice and wait for "real Sunset," and today, that's what they got. The only problem was, they got too much of it. Pancho was one of the few competitors out for the dawn patrol, and he made yet another call. "They should wait until tomorrow. Guys are going to be getting a bunch of 3s out here. It'll be at least 8 feet and cleaner if they hold off a day. But I know they won't."

At the time, his call seemed a little questionable. There were some washthroughs, sure, but the Inside Bowl occasionally jacked up for some mondo pits as Ian Walsh found out in the pre-dawn light. Pancho even paddled out first heat and dominated, racking up an 8, a 7 and throwing away a high 6.

But it went all downhill from there. As soon as the ending buzzer to Heat One sounded, the chunky, west/northwest swell kicked up a notch and seven heats got lost in the whitewater. It was borderline unwatchable with guys coming in having no idea how they did, spectators having no idea who did what, their caddies claiming they could barely get back to the beach and – as Pancho predicted – surfers advancing through heats with 3s. "It's not a surf contest," observed Jarrad Howse, who's still in the WCT hunt with a second-place finish today. "It's a paddling race."

Also still alive: WCT hopefuls Beau Mitchell and Jay "Bottle" Thompson, who emerged from the foam in advancing position. Florida's Gabe Kling, who needed a semi finish to give himself a shot, unfortunately did not (use a thicker leash next time, Gabe!).

At the end of Heat {{{Eight}}}, {{{Vans}}} Triple Crown executive director Randy Rarick gave the slitting throat sign and said, "This thing is pau."

But not before 2003 event winner Jake "Snake" Paterson, who breezed through his heat today, showed the first quarterfinal draw to Jarrad Howse. Jarrad, who needs to make it through one more heat to have a chance at qualifying, got the tough news: "It's Pancho, Sunny, Andy…and you, Howse," said Snake. "If you're gonna make it, you're gonna make it the hard way." – Evan Slater/SURFING Magazine

Well, we can all but guarantee a finish to this thing tomorrow. And while a handful of Sunset aficionados had unfortunate, untimely exits, there's plenty of Bowl busters still in the hunt. 2003 winner Jake Paterson. Last year's champ Andy Irons. The ever fluid, ever focused Mick Fanning. The generals, Pancho Sullivan and Sunny Garcia. And our three qualifying heroes Mitchell, Thompson and Howse, who will do anything – even call Sunny off a West Peak – to get them to the Promised Tour. Should be a good finish in conditions – as Pancho promised – minimum 8 feet.