Finals day looms at the Vans World Cup and 32 surfers are still hoping to add qualification points, Triple Crown points and maybe even a title at the second jewel of the 2014 Triple Crown of Surfing. Thursday was a lay day, but round three was completed Wednesday with some top seeds advancing and some falling by the wayside. Maui’s Dusty Payne, who sits atop the Triple Crown leaderboard after his victory at the Reef Hawaiian Pro, won his third-round heat, as did Kauai’s Sebastian Zietz and Alex Smith.
Kaimana Jaquias and Pancho Sullivan were unable to keep their events alive on day three, each taking a fourth-place result for an Equal 49th and 650 points.
Wednesday started out very slowly and with an unexpected face in the opening heat. Joel Parkinson had been scheduled to paddle out but the former world champion had to pull out of the World Cup after a nasty fall at Pipeline during a Tuesday free surf. The Association of Surfing Professionals reported that Parkinson “lacerated himself on the reef” and was taken to the hospital when his blood pressure began to drop.
Australia’s Yadin Nicol was given Parko’s spot in the first heat of round three, but all four competitors were starved for waves. Oahu’s Keanu Asing, who is fighting for his place on next year’s World Championship Tour, won the heat with just a 7.77 total and Maui’s Ian Walsh (5.83) survived in second.
Asing came into the event with 11,400 points on the World Qualifying Series leaderboard, which is right at the expected cut line. If he can advance beyond round four and into the quarterfinals, he’ll bump up to at least 12,400 and should be in great shape to qualify for the 2015 world tour.
Payne continued to rip every North Shore wave he has seen recently and won his third-round heat with a 16.17 total. He outshone current WCT leader Gabriel Medina (12.17), who advanced in second place. Payne is trying to make an improbable run at qualifying for the world tour, but he still needs to make a few more heats to do it. Just reaching the semifinals would put him at about 11,600 points, so he’ll need at least that result to jump from 98th place entering Haleiwa all the way to the WQS top 10.
As one of the top 32 seeds, Zietz made his first World Cup appearance in round three and advanced in second place. It was a very close heat, ultimately won by Brazil’s Lucas Silveira (11.74). All four surfers were clumped together with only a few minutes remaining, but Seabass found a funky right that he opened with a big carve off the lip and added a few turns. He seemed to get in trouble in a white water section, going to his belly but managing to return to his feet in time for a small barrel and a finishing layback snap. The wave had way more excitement than it originally seemed to and Zietz improved with a 6.20 for an 11.53 total.
He still had to hold his breath even after the final horn sounded. That 6.20 wasn’t locked in yet and Kai Barger found a nice four-turn wave to close his account. But when everything was posted, Barger’s 6.43 came up short of the 6.86 needed and he was the hard-luck elimination along with Freddy Patacchia.
Alex Smith was in a tough heat with Bede Durbidge, Tiago Pires and Charly Martin late in the day. He had some medium waves to start the heat, but needed a bigger number to remain in the mix. At the 10-minute mark and in third place, Smith paddled into a big wave and had a strong opening turn with plenty of power. He added a pair of cutbacks but the first turn was the star and the judges awarded him a 7.33 to move into second with a 13.16 total. That number held up and he and Martin knocked out the two higher seeds to move into round four.
Some of the other top seeds who were upset in the third round include Adam Melling, Jeremy Flores, Nat Young, Jadson Andre, Travis Logie, Miguel Pupo and Kai Otton. Among those advancing on to round four were Ace Buchan, Filipe Toledo, Jordy Smith, Owen Wright, Alejo Muniz, Julian Wilson, Mason Ho, Josh Kerr, Kolohe Andino, Matt Wilkinson and Michel Bourez.
Alex Smith will go up against Kerr, Silveira and Brazil’s David Do Carmo in the fifth heat of round four. Zietz will be taking on Ho, Ricardo Christie and Charly Martin in heat six.
Asing’s all-important heat will be the first one in the water. He’ll be taking on Jordy Smith, Billy Stairmand and Beyrick De Vries.
A new, bigger swell was expected to fill in today, so officials may be hoping to crown a champion by day’s end. Tune in to Oceanic Surf Channels 250 and 1250 for all the live action.
David Simon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.