Sunset for Sunny: Day one is final day for a legend

With the unpredictable nature of the Triple Crown of Surfing, there was little we knew for sure when the Hawaii winter season got underway prior to Haleiwa. One thing we did know was this would be the final go for Sunny Garcia.

There are few surfers who are so identified with one event or one series as Garcia, 47, is with the Triple Crown. It’s with good reason, as he’s a six-time Triple Crown champion.

The sheer number of competitors and varied nature of the different locations makes any consistent success here a truly amazing feat. Garcia figured out the nuances across Oahu’s North Shore over many years and was able to put that knowledge to practice. He took the Triple Crown title three straight years (1992-1994), then added three more in 1999, 2000 and 2004.

He also proved he wasn’t just dominant in Hawaiian waters by winning the world title in 2000. If he wasn’t already validated worldwide, that certainly changed any inaccurate perceptions.

When Garcia announced he’d be competing in his final Triple Crown this winter, it wasn’t exactly a surprise, but it did bring back and highlight the depth of all he’s accomplished. His greatness hasn’t necessarily been taken for granted, but it’s just a part of who he is. We don’t think of him as “six-time Triple Crown winner Sunny Garcia” so much as he’s, simply, Sunny Garcia.

His final tour didn’t have the highlights he may have hoped for, but it doesn’t detract from his résumé. Things came to a close Tuesday during the first round of the World Cup of Surfing at Sunset Beach. He finished third in his heat behind Nomme Mingnot and Ian Crane, knocking him from the contest.

After a first-round exit at Haleiwa, Garcia was going to need something major to stay in the hunt enough for a Pipe Masters invite. That wasn’t to be and he’ll now hang up the jersey.

It wasn’t a very eventful first day of competition. The waves were mediocre at The Point, as was the weather. But things were good enough to make a dent in the draw.

Scores were difficult to come by all day and middling numbers were often enough to advance. Reaching double-digits with a two-wave total was a solid accomplishment. High totals for the day went to Deivid Silva (Brazil) and Carlos Munoz (Costa Rica), who were the only two able to exceed the 14-point mark.

Koa Smith and Kaimana Jaquias got through the tricky sets and advanced to round two, though Bruce Irons couldn’t find what he needed to move on. Smith and Jaquias each hope to have another good showing in round two, moving into round three where Sebastian Zietz awaits his competitors.

Jamie O’Brien, Olamana Eleogram, Myles Padaca, Mason Ho, Tanner Hendrickson and Makuakai Rothman were just some of those eliminated in round one.

Another swell is on the way in a couple days, so we may get multiple sessions in during that time. But hopefully only if the waves are a little more proper than Tuesday.

It wasn’t a blaze of glory for Garcia’s final appearance, but he has left a truly indelible mark on the sport and this series of events. Anyone hoping to match his legacy has a long road ahead.

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David Simon can be reached at dsimon@thegardenisland.com.

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