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Tail slide puts Payne in good position


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POSTED: Saturday, November 29, 2008

Dusty Payne owned Sunset Beach yesterday at the O'Neill World Cup of Surfing. It was the first day of competition at the second jewel of the 26th annual Vans Triple Crown of Surfing and Payne was ripping.

No easy task considering the wave face heights were in the 16- to 20-foot range. But Payne, who won the Billabong Pro Junior last month at Sunset, reveled in the giant surf, winning both of his heats yesterday.

Currently, Payne is sitting in fourth place in the overall Triple Crown rankings after his finals appearance at the Reef Hawaiian Pro. After his first heat yesterday, it was obvious that the 19-year-old is still riding the momentum from the previous event.

Payne beat former world champ Mark Occhilupo by getting a big Sunset barrel in the first round. He was extremely excited to get that heat over with and shake off the jitters.

“;It's always the toughest one and luckily I came out on top,”; said Payne, who is originally from Lahaina. “;The waves are really fun and everybody is having fun out there.”;

It was obvious that Payne was having a great time all day. In his second-round heat, Payne completed a gnarly tail slide on a double-overhead wave that had the crowd gasping in shock. According to Triple Crown beach announcer Liam McNamara, Payne's maneuver was the gnarliest turn ever completed in Sunset Beach competition.

Payne's tail slide was the trick of the day, but Sunset Beach local Marcus Hickman, 29, posted the high score, a 17.94 out of a possible 20. Hickman was in great form yesterday on one of the oldest boards in his quiver.

“;I was riding my Old Faithful board. This is my 7-foot-6 from a couple of winters back,”; said Hickman, who was awarded a 9.77 out of 10 for a double barrel ride. “;Sunset is such a big area that being in the right spot is more important than how the board works. I had to have a bigger board so I could paddle and catch the right waves.”;

Like Hickman, Waianae's Melanie Bartels, 25, also benefited from good wave selection and a bigger board.

Bartels and the rest of the ladies of the Roxy Pro surfed earlier in the day before the men paddled out. The west side wahine appreciated that Triple Crown directors allowed the women to compete in sizable conditions at Sunset.

“;There's some size out there and it's kinda scary because the wave is kinda heavy, but it's so great when you get a good one,”; said Bartels, who advanced straight to the quarterfinals after winning her first-round heat.

Bartels, who won this event two years ago, is looking good to win at Sunset again because of some expert advice by Ben Aipa and Rochelle Ballard.

“;I've been working with Rochelle Ballard and she's been sharing some of her knowledge with me and helping me out,”; said Bartels. “;I'm thankful she shared her knowledge with me because everything she said worked out in my favor.”;

The ladies of the Roxy Pro will resume competition in the quarterfinals, while the men of the O'Neill World Cup of Surfing will continue with the second round.

Wave heights are expected to increase and competition at the second jewel of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing will most likely resume. Give 596-SURF a call to find out if the contest is on.