After Wednesday's dangerous and disorganized high surf, Haleiwa settled down and offered excellent conditions for the opening day of the REEF Hawaiian Pro today - the first jewel of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing.
Marco Fernandez, Yadin Nicol, Gabe Kling, and Hawaii's Sunny Garcia and Ian Walsh drew the most attention on the opening day. The waves were up to double overhead, giving power surfers a slight edge over proponents of the new school.
Brazil's Marco Fernandez (Bahia), ranked 67th on the ASP World ratings, has a tall order ahead of him if he's to qualify for the elite ASP ranks for 2014, but his performance today gave him reason to believe. Fernandez, 22, was the top scoring surfer of the opening round - 17.17 points out of 20 (8.77, 8.4).
Fernandez has been coming to Hawaii for a few winters now, but has only surfed Haleiwa a handful of times, preferring the relatively uncrowded Sunset Beach lineup close to where he stays.
"I like the bigger waves and I usually surf at Sunset because it's close to my house," said Fernandez. "But the waves were very good here at Haleiwa today and I had a good heat. It was a great score. I'm ranked number 67, so I need big results here. Maybe a win? That's OK. I'll keep trying."
On the flip side of Fernandez's inexperience at Haleiwa, is Hawaii's Sunny Garcia: A 6-time Vans Triple Crown champion who surfed his very first competition here at the age of nine - back in 1979. Garcia, now 43, has won this event a total of five times between 1992 and 2004. He was on double duty today, competing against both the contemporary crew and the masters in the REEF Clash of the Legends exhibition event. He dominated both.
Yesterday it looked like a river was running through Haleiwa. I always like to surf big waves but I don't think yesterday wouldn't have been surfing, it would have been paddling. Sunny Garcia
"Yesterday it looked like a river was running through Haleiwa," said Garcia. " I always like to surf big waves but I don't think yesterday wouldn't have been surfing, it would have been paddling.
"My approach has always been to wait for the sets and I was a little worried half way through (my heat). These young guys surf so incredible, for me to beat them I'm always going to have to have the better waves and bigger turns, and need all the size I can get."
West Australian Yadin Nicol is right at home in Hawaii's pumping surf and power - similar to that of his home breaks. Somewhat baffled by why he's never done particularly well here, he was relieved to get a good opening heat behind him.
"I've spent about six weeks here every year for the last 10 to 15 years," said Nicol. "It's a good place to come in the winter, or our summer, and relax for a couple of weeks.
"I've always wanted to do good in the Triple Crown. I've never done good here. I don't know why. I would think that, I mean, in my opinion I suit these waves, but I've never had that much luck here. I just want to do good in the Triple Crown and see how it goes."
Big wave globe-trotter Ian Walsh only competes in a select few ASP world tour events, preferring to chase the biggest waves around the planet to competition. He proved what a versatile and adaptive surfer he is, transitioning from a free session in waves of up to 40 feet at Jaws (Maui) yesterday, to a 25-minute heat against three driven competitors at a much smaller Haleiwa today.
"Just transitioning from riding a 10'6" in big scary waves to today, riding a shortboard, is something a lot of people acquire growing up in Hawaii. That's something that being a product of your environment kind of helps with."
REEF HAWAIIAN PRO 2013 RESULTS
Round of 128
(1st & 2nd advance, 3rd=97th; 4th=113th)
H1: Thomas Woods (AUS) 13.26pts ; Vicente Romero (ESP) 10.43pts ; Kahokula Kaoliopuuwai (HAW) 9.87pts ; Kahea Hart (HAW) 9.14pts
H2: Seth Moniz (HAW) 10.80pts ; Gony Zubizarreta (ESP) 9.73pts ; Carlos Munoz (CRI) 7.93pts ; Bernardo Miranda (BRA) 7.43pts
H3: Dylan Goodale (HAW) 12.93pts ; Santiago Muniz (ARG) 12.14pts ; Marcus Hickman (HAW) 7.80pts ; Tim Reyes (USA) 6.50pts
H4: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 11.33pts; Sean Moody (HAW) 10.46pts; Tanner Hendrickson (HAW) 10.44pts; Bino Lopes (BRA) 9.47pts
H5: Sunny Garcia (HAW) 13.70pts ; Billy Stairmand (NZL) 13.44pts ; Frederico Morais (PRT) 10.06pts ; Kevin Sullivan (HAW) 9.43pts
H6: Jack Freestone (AUS) 14.24pts ; Gavin Gillette (HAW) 12.17pts ; Nathaniel Curran (USA) 11.96pts ; Gregg Nakamura (HAW) 10.47pts
H7: Yadin Nicol (AUS) 16.43pts ; Koa Smith (HAW) 12.33pts ; Jean Da Silva (BRA) 11.70pts ; Hizunome Bettero (BRA) 7.44pts
H8: Kai Barger (HAW) 12.84pts ; Ian Gouveia (BRA) 12.33pts ; Chris Ward (USA) 11.66pts ; Hank Gaskell (HAW) 9.30pts
H9: Messias Felix (BRA) 11.96pts ; Evan Valiere (HAW) 11.94pts ; Joel Centeio (HAW) 11.17pts ; Heitor Alves (BRA) 6.40pts
H10: Marco Fernandez (BRA) 17.17pts ; Kaito Ohashi (JPN) 12.73pts ; Isaiah Moniz (HAW) 11.10pts ; Michael Dunphy (USA) 8.95pts
H11: Ian Walsh (HAW) 13.64pts ; Cory Arrambide (USA) 13.20pts ; Ryan Callinan (AUS) 13.03pts ; Olamana Eleogram (HAW) 11.93pts
H12: Nathan Yeomans (USA) 12.94pts ; Ricardo Christie (NZL) 12.93pts ; Kylen Yamakawa (HAW) 8.00pts ; Kalani David (HAW) 7.67pts
H13: Adrien Toyon (FRA) 15.50pts ; Ian Gentil (HAW) 12.33pts ; Steven Pierson (PYF) 14.70pts ; Liam McNamara (HAW) 0.00pts
H14 : Garett Parkes (AUS) 12.56pts ; Makai McNamara (HAW) 11.43pts ; Kaimana Jaquias (HAW) 11.17pts ; Davey Cathels (AUS) 11.13pts
H15: Gabe Kling (USA) 16.46pts ; Krystian Kymerson (BRA) 13.70pts ; Torrey Meister (HAW) 11.64pts ; Makuakai Rothman (HAW) 5.86pts
H16: Nic Von Rupp (PRT) 14.17pts ; Alex Smith (HAW) 13.26pts ; Evan Geiselman (USA) 10.60pts; Joshua Moniz (HAW) 7.94pts
Round of 96
H1: Brian Toth (PRI) 16.83pts ;Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 14.93pts ; Thomas Woods (AUS) 7.83pts ; Gony Zubizarreta (ESP) 4.24pts
CLASH OF THE LEGENDS
H1 : Sunny Garcia (HAW) 15.93pts ; Kaipo Jaquias (HAW) 10.00pts ; Michael Ho (HAW) 8.66pts ; Brad Gerlach (USA) 0.00pts