Mixed bag for Kauai surfers as World Cup opens at Sunset

After waiting out a couple of lay days, the Vans World Cup of Surfing got its first action going on Tuesday in a tricky session at Oahu’s Sunset Beach. A number of Kauai’s best male surfers got their first-round heats completed with some mixed results.

Gavin Gillette, Pancho Sullivan, Kaimana Jaquias, Alex Smith and Evan Valiere all earned at least a top-two finish necessary to advance. Danny Fuller, Dylan Goodale, Koa Smith and Reef McIntosh were unable to move to the next phase of the event.

It may just be my imagination, but Gillette always seems to be in one of the first few heats of round one. Tuesday, the early start was to his benefit as he took to the water in the second heat of the day and quickly found what was the top wave of his heat. A 7.67 on his first ride put him in prime position, but Gillette put up only one additional score, using a 0.73 as his backup. While that’s never ideal, his 8.40 total was enough to remain in second place ahead of Aussie Mitch Coleborn, who wasn’t able to find a 3.74 to sneak through.

Sullivan followed in the next heat with six scoring waves and a heat win on an 11.93 total. He saved his best work for his final effort, earning a 7.43 to move from third to first. Unfortunately, Fuller dropped into third for the early elimination. Just last month, Fuller won the HIC Pro at the same Sunset Beach break for his first career professional victory.

Heat four included Goodale, but the Kilauea surfer watched his competitors pick up the pace late in the heat. Ezekiel Lau and Vasco Ribeiro took first and second, respectively. Goodale wasn’t far behind, needing a 5.61 that never came through.

Another scheduling quirk seems to be that Koa Smith and Jaquias are frequently in the same heats. It happened again in round one and only Jaquias made it through. The ocean went quiet for everyone, but Jaquias earned second on a 10.43 total while Smith found only a few small scores.

Things began to pick up a bit but McIntosh didn’t see any of the bombs he’s used to riding. He kept pace early on but wound up in fourth as the rest of the pack, including heat winner Damien Hobgood, moved ahead.

Alex Smith managed to survive his heat by a narrow margin. He only scored two waves, but his 9.76 was a mere 0.13 ahead of third-place finisher Kylen Yamakawa. Smith moves on along with heat winner Cooper Chapman.

Last up was Valiere, who also had a close call but remained in second place with an 8.73 two-wave total. Ramzi Boukhaim had the two best waves of the heat and moved on easily with a 14.00 total as Valiere held off Jean Da Silva by less than half a point.

Some other Hawaii surfers moving into the second round are Ian Walsh, Kaito Kino, Billy Kemper, Kiron Jabour, Kai Barger, Seth Moniz, Granger Larsen and Isaiah Moniz. Falling in round one were Hank Gaskell, Eli Olson, Kevin Sullivan, Ian Gentil, Olamana Eleogram, Josh Moniz, Sunny Garcia, Landon McNamara, Joel Centeio, Jamie O’Brien, Makai McNamara and Kalani David.

Round two got underway late Tuesday afternoon. Results were unavailable as of press time.

Target Maui Pro finishes round one:

The final women’s World Championship Tour event of the season got its first round complete, Tuesday on Maui. Kauai’s Malia Manuel got a win in the first heat of the day, topping France’s Pauline Ado and Johanne Defay to move directly into round three. Courtney Conlogue, Stephanie Gilmore, Sally Fitzgibbons, Tyler Wright and Bianca Buitendag also won their opening heats to skip round two.

Gilmore can clinch the 2014 world title with a spot in the final heat. She can, however, be caught by Fitzgibbons or Wright if either wins the event and Gilmore comes up short of the top two.

There is also a lot at stake for Alessa Quizon and Dimity Stoyle. If Stoyle can move past Laura Enever, from 11th to 10th in the overall standings, she will re-qualify for next year’s WCT. If she’s unable to, that means Quizon will make it back for her sophomore season in 2015.

“Interestingly enough, Quizon and Enever will go head-to-head in the second round. If Stoyle wins her earlier heat against Ado, then it would actually be in Quizon’s best interest to lose to Enever. That would obviously be against her competitive nature, but it would be the smartest way to try to remain on tour.”

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

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