Final heats on tap, but Sunset approaching max conditions

  • Heff / WSL

    Sebastian Zietz won his third-round heat Saturday at the Vans World Cup of Surfing at Sunset Beach. The waiting period for the contest runs through Thursday, but a massive swell began to fill in on Tuesday that could max out Sunset Beach over the next two days.

The Vans World Cup of Surfing has had three consecutive lay days since Saturday’s full slate of action reduced the field to 32 competitors. That leaves just today and Thursday remaining in the waiting period, but a massive swell has entered the North Shore that doesn’t appear to be compatible.

According to the Surfline forecast this huge swell has been tracking towards Hawaii, filling in late Tuesday and will likely bring 20- to 25-foot faces with occasional 30-footers rolling through today at Sunset Beach. That’s likely to max out the lineup and create some hazardous conditions not suitable for running the event.

Things will taper off slightly on Thursday, but they still project prevalent 18- to 22-foot faces. It’s unusual to hope for smaller waves so a contest can run, but it would be much better if the swell eases back just a little more than that and dips into the mid-range area.

If the organizers can find some gaps where the waves are cooperating, the main story of finals day is going to be Joel Parkinson and what he can add to his current Vans Triple Crown points lead. Parkinson made it through round three alongside Sebastian Zietz, as the duo eliminated Kainehe Hunt and Kalani Ball. Parko is currently atop the Triple Crown leaderboard after winning the Hawaiian Pro and the veteran hopes to add a fourth Triple Crown championship to his resume.

Parko announced earlier this year that he will retire following the Billabong Pipe Masters, so capping things off with another accolade seems only fitting.

He’ll have to get through a loaded fourth-round heat when he takes on Wade Carmichael, Griffin Colapinto and Leonardo Fioravanti. All four competitors are capable of winning the event, and whichever two advance will surely need to be on top of their game.

Zietz looks to also be a serious contender. He got the better of Parko in that third-round heat, notching a pair of seven-point rides for the top spot. Zietz reached the final of the World Cup in both 2012 and 2014, so his experience and success at Sunset Beach is certainly evident. He will next paddle out with Jadson Andre, Soli Bailey and Jack Robinson.

Round three featured a number of upsets as Kanoa Igarashi, Matt Wilkinson, Caio Ibelli, Ace Buchan and both Josh and Seth Moniz were all eliminated from competition. Many favorites remain, including Filipe Toledo, Italo Ferreira, Ezekiel Lau and Jordy Smith.

Ferreira could be a name to watch down the stretch, coming off a 17th place at the Hawaiian Pro. He won the most recent Championship Tour event in Portugal, giving him three victories this season. He’s the only CT surfer to do that this year, despite the fact that he’s already been eliminated from all world title scenarios. If he can pick up the World Cup win, he’ll be a major threat to earn what would be his first Triple Crown with a good result at Pipeline.

So here’s to hoping the swell comes down a bit to a more manageable level. The past few years have featured some epic final days when the waves projected to be too unruly. If mother nature eases up just a little bit, that could be the case again to cap off the second leg of Triple Crown season.

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

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