Sunset-savvy Hickman thrives


POSTED: Monday, December 01, 2008

The third round of the O'Neill World Cup of Surfing at Sunset Beach was a breathtaking display of high-performance, big-wave riding yesterday. The local boys in the second jewel of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing outshined the visiting competition in the 12- to 20-foot wave faces.

Sunset Beach's Marcus Hickman, 29, was the standout performer of the day. He posted the highest heat total with a 16.50 out of 20.

While his competition struggled in the variety of takeoff spots and different peaks, Hickman enjoyed the assortment of waves Sunset offered. His local knowledge paid off huge as he won his third-round heat.

“;This is my backyard. This is my favorite area to surf. I love the different looks (Sunset) gives you,”; Hickman said. “;I put in my time and I know what it does when it's north and what it does when it's west, so I guess that does help out a lot.”;

Hickman scored one of the few barreling waves of the day and benefited from riding a relatively shorter board than the previous day of competition.

“;Because (Sunset) is north like this, it's not as hard to catch (waves)—you can catch it pretty easy,”; he said. “;So you just need to be able to turn your board. That's why I rode a shorter board.”;

So far, Hickman looks like the man to beat. In the second round, he got the highest scoring ride of the event, a 9.77 out of 10.

No matter what kind of waves Sunset offers, Hickman is ready to rip.

“;The beautiful thing about Sunset is it throws so many different things at you, you have to be prepared,”; he said.

Another surfer who was adequately prepared for the difficult, giant waves was Hank Gaskell, 23. Gaskell, who is from Hana, Maui, claimed the second-highest heat total (16.83), despite getting pounded.

“;This is probably as tough as conditions get in a contest. There are tons of waves and it's pretty big, so you're going to get a few beatings,”; Gaskell said. “;But, there's still a few good waves if you manage to pick them out.”;

Gaskell is familiar with the tricky lineups at Sunset Beach, but he also attributes his success at this event to his cross-training regimen.

“;Getting your cardio up will really help. I was getting tired toward the end of that heat, took a few on the head,”; he said. “;You need to be in good shape, that's the main thing out here. You really got to surf it a lot, too.”;

The O'Neill World Cup of Surfing will resume competition in the fourth round, but the men will play second fiddle to the women of the Roxy Pro today.

The women's world title and Triple Crown lead are up for grabs, so competition will be intense. The Roxy Pro will resume competition in the quarterfinals and finish the event today.

A live Webcast of the Roxy Pro and O'Neill World Cup of Surfing will be available at triplecrownofsurfing.com.