Something about Haleiwa just hasn’t gone well for Hawaii surfers over the past few years. The opening event for the Triple Crown is typically a chance for all the local talent to show the best in the world that there is more than just the contest circuit.
But for one reason or another, a lot of competitors have been turned back in their efforts of late. Tuesday’s opening session of the Hawaiian Pro followed the same script as last year, when a large number of the Hawaii surfers in the field were eliminated in round one.
That included the likes of Koa Smith, Evan Valiere, Dylan Goodale, Mason Ho, Finn McGill, Barron Mamiya and more. Of the 36 men who were knocked out of the event Tuesday, 17 of them surf under the Hawaiian flag.
One of the best results belonged to Kaimana Jaquias, who managed to buck the trend and made it into round two with a second-place result in heat 12. He finished just behind the Big Island’s Torrey Meister, who also thrived and survived with a heat win.
Kauai’s Jaquias earns another heat and will take on Brazil’s Michael Rodrigues, Spain’s Gony Zubizarreta and American standout Cam Richards.
Small and punchy waves made up the majority of the day’s opening session, which was expected from the forecast. But that has been somewhat of a problem in recent years, or at least it’s resulted in some less-than-stellar results. It’s been difficult for some of the surfers who we know locally to be highly skilled and motivated to get off to a quick start in the Triple Crown. If the waves were a bit bigger, which they can be at Haleiwa, it might allow for some more impressive feats.
But all the competitors have to surf the same conditions from day to day. Unfortunately that resulted in a high number of early knockouts.
Jaquias and Meister were two of the 10 Hawaii surfers to advance out of the first round. Elijah Gates, Kiron Jabour, Keoni Yan, Dusty Payne, Shayden Paccaro, Imai Devault, Billy Kemper and Cody Young also finished within their respective heat’s top two positions.
The day’s most impressive performer was Richards, who took to the air and showed that there were still big scores to be had if the creativity was there. Richards has moved to the edge of the world’s top 50 and is one of the highest-ranked competitors who got going in round one. He proved worthy of that position with the best heat total, earning a 17.16 on his two waves, including a 9.33 after already owning a pair of sevens.
Tanner Gudauskas also looked very comfortable in the lineup late in the day, advancing in first with a 14.00 total. Brazil’s Luel Felipe looked great while having the best outing in his matchup against three Hawaii surfers for a win in the round’s final heat.
Conditions should be similar today, perhaps a little bigger than yesterday’s peak. There is the expectation for a high number of heats with a drop in the swell probable for the rest of the week.
For whatever reason, not many of Hawaii’s surfers have been able to take advantage of the local home-break advantage early at the Hawaiian Pro. That could change as the likes of John John Florence, Sebastian Zietz and Ezekiel Lau can still make deep runs with later starts. Hopefully rounds two and three allow for some better results.
David Simon can be reached at email@example.com.