Carroll stars as Crown visits Sunset
Some people went to the gym to work off their Thanksgiving feast. The world's best surfers got to go to Sunset Beach on Oahu's North Shore.
The O'Neill World Cup of Surfing, the second jewel in the 23rd annual men's Vans Triple Crown of Surfing series, held its first of four days of competition yesterday in waves with faces that ranged from 10 to 15 feet.
The Triple Crown is a prestigious series of three big-wave events at different North Shore venues that represents the end of the surfing season each year. In addition to having winners at each of the stops, the series awards its own championship title to the best overall performer.
"The waves aren't super big right now, a little playful, but I'm just stoked to be able to surf my home break," said 20-year-old Nathan Carroll, who lives right at Sunset Beach and picked up his best career Triple Crown result when he made the semifinals at this event last year. "I'm actually scared out of my pants out there. I put a lot of pressure on myself, and I want to do better than I did last year. Got a lot more heats to go, but I'll take it one at a time."
The World Cup is a $125,000, 6-star contest that is the last event for the 2005 World Qualifying Series as well as a part of the Triple Crown. The last jewel of the Triple Crown -- next month's Rip Curl Pro Pipeline Masters -- is the final contest on the elite World Championship Tour and not part of the WQS.
The World Cup started with an international field of 160 surfers, and all of the first and second rounds and seven of 12 heats of the third were completed.
Carroll was among the standouts, as he won both of his heats and posted one of the higher scores of the day with 15.50 points (out of 20 maximum) for his top two waves in his second-rounder.
Another was 21-year-old Makua Rothman, also of Sunset Beach. He had to surf three heats instead of two and won all of them to advance to the fourth round. In his second-round heat, Rothman posted the highest overall heat score (17.16) of the day.
"It's almost unbelievable, seeing as how I did win three heats out here in one day," Rothman said. "You gotta learn to crawl before you walk -- and walking is not until after the finals. But I'm still crawling, so we'll see what happens."
Some of the other Hawaii surfers to qualify for the World Cup's second day were Kainoa McGee, Dustin Barca, Kekoa Bacalso, Hank Gaskell and 2001 Triple Crown champ Myles Padaca. Other notables to move on included Bernardo Pigmeu of Brazil and Russell Winter of Great Britain.
Hawaii surfers like Pancho Sullivan -- winner of the first jewel at Haleiwa on Wednesday -- and defending Triple Crown champ Sunny Garcia have yet to hit the water because they were seeded directly into the fifth round.
Conditions permitting, the World Cup will continue today. The contest must be completed by Dec. 6.