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HIC Pro ready to kick off at Oahu’s Sunset Beach

A new swell made its way to Hawaii on Saturday and with it brings the start of the winter surf season. Conditions weren’t good enough to kick things off at the HIC Pro, but the waiting period is officially underway as we begin the trek towards the 2018 Triple Crown of Surfing.

As always, Sunset Beach is the opening site with the HIC Pro acting as the gateway to the ensuing Triple Crown schedule. The first round could get underway today as the premier crop of local talent gets its annual showcase to perform on Oahu’s North Shore before the rest of the Qualifying Series and Champ-

ionship Tour regulars join the fray.

Kauai surfers Evan Valiere and Chris Foster each have first-round heats to look forward to in this four-man format. This particular opening round has a ton of talent, consisting of a lot of locals who have spent the majority of 2018 doing more free surfing and less QS point hunting. Mason Ho, Olamana Eleogram, Ian Walsh, Eli Olson, Kai Lenny and Ian Gentil must also get through first-round four-man heats to start the contest.

Kilauea’s Koa Smith has been killing it on the social media scene with a strong combination of otherworldly barrels and CBD oil original jams. He’ll be hoping to add to those accolades in the water starting in round two.

Poipu native Kainehe Hunt gets the best starting position with a bye into round three. He’s still just 16 years old but this is a great opportunity for the tall teen to begin carving out an image in what could be his most high-profile outing to date.

Others from the next generation of Hawaii greats starting in round three include Barron Mamiya, Imai Devault and Moniz brothers Seth and Josh.

This isn’t just a Hawaii showcase and some from the CT will be trying to pick up results with obvious targets on their backs. Dream tour regulars Jordy Smith and Ezekiel Lau are in round three, along with a whole crew trying to get back on the CT including Jack Freestone, Ethan Ewing, Nat Young and Leo Fioravanti.

Dusty Payne will also be making his return from injury with a direct route to round three. Payne had a devastating wipeout at Pipeline back in January that landed him in the hospital with skull fractures and a broken jaw after getting slammed head-first into the reef. Just seeing him out there and able to compete will be a fantastic visual. Payne is one of the most well-liked guys in the sport and has had his share of setbacks throughout his career. Still just 29 years old, hopefully he can get back to the levels he has achieved in the past.

It’s probably the most stacked QS 3,000 contest imaginable and it’s going to take every bit of skill and luck for whoever is able to make their way through the field of 112 and onto the podium.

The extended waiting period runs all the way to Nov. 9 and leads directly into the Hawaiian Pro and Vans World Cup. But some fun surf seems like it could allow for some early-round action this morning. There’s obviously no rush with that many days to work with, so it will depend on the winds because the size should be there.

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

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