Surfers face stormy conditions at Sunset

SUNSET BEACH, O‘ahu — Sunset Beach turned it’s back on competitors in the O’Neill World Cup of Surfing yesterday, replacing today’s clean perfection with stormy 10- to 12-foot waves, blustery winds and rain squalls. Positioning, wave selection and equipment choice were paramount for competitors to succeed in the tough conditions.

The last 12 heats of Round 2 were held yesterday, with the earliest heats experiencing the best of the conditions before strong north-east winds ripped up the break. Organizers called it a day at around 1pm and expect to resume with men’s competition again this morning as big surf continues. The swell was still rising at the end of competition.

California’s Tanner Gudauskas was one of the standouts yesterday, a major feat given the typical San Clemente small wave conditions he’s more accustomed to. Yesterday’s shore break alone was bigger than most days in Southern California, but Gudauskas admits he revels in the opportunity to tackle the power.

“This is definitely my favorite event,” said Gudauskas. “I’ve been surfing in it for the last three years, I love big waves and I want to do well.”

Gudauskas shared the lineup with seasoned Hawai‘i competitor Evan Valiere, Brazil’s Yuri Sodre and fellow Californian Che Stang. Tanner and Yuri advanced out of the heat.

“I tried to see what Evan Valiere was doing because he’s my favorite goofy foot surfer out here,” said Gudauskas. “So, I kind of came off what he was doing and followed suit.

“There’s tons of good guys in this event so it’s just an honor to be in it. To do well is even better.”

Australia’s Jarrad Howse was another solid performer yesterday. He advanced in first place along with seasoned campaigner Sunny Garcia of O‘ahu.

“I went out there this morning, tried a bigger board and ended up snapping it, so, I had to downsize to my 7-footer,” said Howse. “But I figured it was the right size, it turns really well and I know this board the best. I had such a fun time out there and I’m really happy.

“This is up there with the hardest, just everything about it: wave selection, not getting caught by the sets, then actually riding the waves. It’s so much bumpier and windier than it looks. I just sort of stayed nice and compact and held on.”

When competition resumes with the round of 96, the next batch of seeded surfers will enter the mix, including last week’s Hale‘iwa finalist Jihad Khodr (Brazil), current world No. 11 Fred Patacchia, Tim Reyes (Huntington Beach, CA), and Daniel Ross (Australia).

Kaua‘i’s Bruce Irons (16.17) won his second straight heat of the competition, defeating Hodei Collazo (2.54), Antonio Bortoletto (2.40) and Adam Melling (1.87) in high fashion.

Fellow Kaua‘i surfer Gavin Gillette won his heat, beating Kamalei Alexander (9.67), Tonino Benson (4.43) and Austin Ware (3.17).

The O’Neill World Cup of Surfing is the second of three stops that comprise the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. It is also the final World Qualifying event on the 2008 ASP World Tour.


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