2005 Xcel Pro At Sunset Beach, Hawaii: Day 1

The 22nd Annual XCEL Pro presented by No Fear kicked off today with surf in the 4′ foot range increasing through the day to the 6-8′ range with light offshore winds. Today round 1 and 8 heats of round 2 went down, matching up some new faces and veteran surfers in high performance conditions. The $50,000 Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) 3-star World Qualifying Series (WQS) event can be viewed live on www.XcelWetsuits.com. Surfinglive unveiled its new one of a kind wireless web water camera to bring the action up close and personal. Two additional land cameras captured various angles at Sunset Beach, interviews with competitors and the local crew, and an instant replay option brought web surfers to an international Hawaiian surf contest as if you were sitting in the sand.

This year 60 percent of the XCEL Pro competitors are Hawaiian rippers, while the remaining 40 percent are from the U.S. mainland, Australia, Japan, South Africa, Puerto Rico, and Peru. First round standouts were veteran surfers Rainos Hayes and Tamayo Perry who used their experience to negotiate Sunset’s tricky lineup. While the younger surfers like Maui boy Luke Walsh, North Shore local Mikala Jones, and Reunion Island’s Jeremy Flores relied on their youthful athleticism to advance.

The lulls were stressing the sufers in the opening rounds, but there were still good size sets rolling into Sunset. Perhaps, the most exciting showdown of the day was in round 1 heat 5. O’ahu `s Chaz Chidester missed the first 10 minutes of heat 5 because of traffic on Kamehameha Highway. With 15 minutes left to get out of last place, Chidester grabbed his red jersey and bolted out to the lineup. Out of sheer desperation and good luck, Chaz grabbed a couple of good rides right off the bat and was able to secure a third place finish to make it into round 2.

In his round 2 heat, Chaz scored one of the better barrels of the day on the West Bowl. Chidester and Kawika Stillwell went on to round 3 after disposing of Tommy ‘O Brien and 1993 world champ Derek Ho.

The highest two wave score of round 1 belonged to Kaua’ i’s Jesse Merle-Jones. In an impressive 15.00 point total, Jesse had to overcome the father-son duo of Michael and Mason Ho. Yet, when the horn blew Merle-Jones, Randall Paulson, and Tai {{{Van}}} Dyke advanced to the second round. All three surfers will face Love Hodel tomorrow with the north/north west swell holding through the night.

On the international side of the comp, the Aussie contingent gave a filthy performance today. Down Under blokes Josh Dothwaite and Steve Powell moved on to round 3.

The XCEL Pro serves as a prime opportunity for surfing’s best amateurs and aspiring pros to showcase their talent and follow in the foot steps of XCEL Pro past winners world champions Derek Ho, Sunny Garcia and three-time world champion Andy Irons plus Bruce Irons, Pancho Sullivan, and the 2004 XCEL Pro champion Fred Patacchia. With valuable ASP ratings points for world tour qualification at stake and a steadily rising level of competition each year, the 2005 XCEL Pro presented by No Fear promises to be one of the most exciting events of the season.

Hawaiian surfers looking to go big this year are Nathan Carroll, Marcus Hickman, Joel Centeio, Jamie O’Brien, Ian Walsh, Brian Pacheco, and Mikey Bruneau who all have the Sunset savvy to win.

The $2,000 Lei Lei’s Longboard Expression Session will feature the world’s most progressive longboarders in an exhibition of high-performance longboarding in big surf. Some of the world’s top longboarders will perform radical, hybrid maneuvers through Sunset’s critical and often unforgiving sections.

Surfing Magazine is the official magazine for the 2005 event, and {{{Fox}}}’s Fuel TV will be airing the event with national and international distribution.

For more information visit www.XcelWetsuits.com