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Miranda shines on opening day of Xcel Pro


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POSTED: Monday, November 02, 2009

The 26th annual Xcel Pro at Sunset Beach proved that you don't need a big prize purse or a wealth of ratings point to have a great surf contest. There are only two things necessary for a successful surfing event: big waves and great conditions.

Yesterday was the first day of competition of the 2-Star World Qualifying Series event and brought out the best and the hungriest professional surfers in Hawaii to Sunset Beach.

This year's Xcel Pro was downgraded from a 4-star to a 2-star event, meaning less prize money and fewer ratings points for those participating. Yet, that didn't deter former world champions, WQS warriors, young up-and-comers and hometown heroes from competing at the kickoff event of the North Shore contest season.

On a sun-soaked Halloween day, the competitors of the Xcel Pro were both tricked and treated by the 8-to 12-foot wave face heights at Sunset. North Shore resident Kaupena Miranda, 29, was on Sunset's good side, winning both of his heats yesterday.

“;Sunset is notorious for big waves, big barrels and (yesterday) was really tricky, like always,”; said Miranda, who is originally from Kailua-Kona and moved to the North Shore to pursue a pro surfing career. “;It is just luck of the draw on getting the good waves. It's hard out there. First few heats were hit or miss.”;

Like many pro surfers in these economically hard times, Miranda doesn't have the financial support of a big sponsor and works other jobs to support his wife and son. He spends his days as a tree-trimmer and nights as dishwasher at Lei Lei's Bar and Grill. Yet, his passion is wave riding, and Miranda's performance at Sunset Bach yesterday caught the eyes of many when he narrowly edged three-time World Champ Andy Irons.

“;Going against (Andy Irons) was nerve-racking, but I just put it to the side because I had nothing to lose,”; said Miranada. “;(Andy Irons) is the one with the big name. Nobody knows who I am, really. I was just focused on getting two waves and that was my main thing.”;

Miranda's strategy worked to perfection, and his two waves in the second round outscored Andy's single ride. Both surfers advanced to the next round of competition with a chance at an invitation to compete in the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, the most prestigious big wave surf series in the world.

“;Every contest in Hawaii means a lot,”; said Miranda as he prepared to go to Lei Lei's for work. “;Because this contest gives us a chance to get into the Triple Crown.”;

With a northwest swell predicted to continue bringing in double-overhead surf, Miranda, Irons and the remaining surfers will probably resume competition today. To see if the contest is running, log onto xcelpro.xcelwetsuits.com or call 596-SURF (7873).