Vans World Cup back; Sullivan, Jaquias, Smith all move on to round 3

Almost a week’s worth of lay days has put a bit of a strain on the final days of the Vans World Cup. Entering Tuesday, just one round was completed with a waiting period scheduled to run through Saturday. Some competitors who had a bye into round two got in the water at Sunset Beach on Tuesday for the first time this event, including current Triple Crown leader Dusty Payne.

Five Kauai surfers also had second-round heats. Pancho Sullivan, Kaimana Jaquias and Alex Smith all had successful days and advanced into round three. Gavin Gillette and Evan Valiere saw their contests end in round two.

The Vans World Cup is not only the second jewel of the 2014 Triple Crown, it’s a chance for major qualification points towards next year’s World Championship Tour. A deep run could solidify spots for some hopefuls and gives a final chance for some late chargers like Payne. He was not on the radar for a 2015 WCT spot, but a win at Haleiwa’s Reef Hawaiian Pro saw him jump all the way from 98th to 24th in the world rankings. He still needs another big result this week to leap into the top 10, but it’s certainly not out of the question.

Payne continued that run with a second-place finish in his Tuesday heat. He got into a pair of seven-point rides and finished with a 15.24 total to move on along with Australia’s Davey Cathels. Damien Hobgood and Kiron Jabour were eliminated from that stacked foursome.

Sullivan barely squeaked by in a close heat, but he continues to use his North Shore knowledge to show well during this Hawaii surf season. It was a crowded race for second place, but Sullivan’s 10.67 total barely outpaced both Vasco Ribeiro (10.57) and Willian Cardoso (9.27).

It was an extremely close battle during Jaquias’ heat, with all four surfers only getting two waves of consequence and needing to make the most of each. His 10.46 total held up for second place and the youngster with the legendary last name will be making an appearance in the Round of 64.

It’s always a family affair for the Smiths and Alex kept the Kilauea representation strong with his second-place finish. It was a heat mostly dominated by two Hawaii surfers as Seth Moniz (16.14) and Smith (14.83) far outpaced Carlos Munoz and Santiago Muniz.

Gillette was in the day’s first heat after the morning free surf, but this time the early start wasn’t to his advantage. He also had to contend with Keanu Asing, who wound up winning the heat with a pair of bombs and a 14.83 total. Aussie Tom Whitaker took second and put up the top wave with an 8.17. Gillette took fourth with an 8.40 total.

Valiere had a much longer wait and was the final Kauai surfer into the water. His heat was on the slow side with mostly medium waves but Brazil’s Italo Ferreira got off to a hot start with a 7.17 score, which was the highest of the heat. Valiere needed a 6.13 to jump past Granger Larsen (9.90) for the second-place finish, but that opportunity didn’t present itself and he finished up in fourth with a 7.27 total.

All the top seeds will be in the water for round three as the field is down to 64 competitors. Sebastian Zietz opens up his event in the round’s 10th heat against Hawaii’s Freddy Patacchia and Kai Barger and Brazil’s Lucas Silveira.

Sullivan has a tough heat and will face off with Jordy Smith, Jeremy Flores and Chris Ward. Jaquias will go up against Owen Wright, Mitch Crews and Jonathan Gonzalez. Alex Smith will paddle out with Bede Dubidge, Tiago Pires and Charly Martin.

Other top seeds getting in the water will be Joel Parkinson, Ace Buchan, Filipe Toledo, Nat Young, Jadson Andre, Gabriel Medina, Julian Wilson, Josh Kerr, Kolohe Andino and more of the sport’s top talent. Kelly Slater and John John Florence are not competing, each nursing injuries and hoping to be ready for the Pipe Masters, which is set to begin on Monday.

If officials get the third round underway today, action from Sunset Beach will be shown live on Oceanic Surf Channels 250 and 1250.

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

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