Garcia advances at Reef Hawaiian Pro


POSTED: Monday, November 23, 2009

For six-time Vans Triple Crown of Surfing Champion Sunny Garcia, competing at the Reef Hawaiian Pro is a holiday. When the 39-year-old isn't traversing the globe on the World Qualifying Series, he lives in California for most of the year. Despite having an Orange County mailing address, Garcia still considers Hawaii home.

“;I love Hawaii. I've been traveling my whole life, so for me coming home is like a vacation,”; said Garcia, who won the Association of Surfing Professionals world championship in 2001. “;Now I kind of live in the mainland most of the time and the only time I get to spend in Hawaii is from October to January. Then in and out in February, March and then back on the tour.”;

Yesterday, Garcia advanced out of his fourth-round heat with a two-wave total of 11 out of a possible 20 points. He finished second behind Australia's Tom Whitaker, whose two-wave total was 12.23. Both Garcia and Whitaker managed to find elusive barrel rides in 8- to 12-foot wave faces. Both surfers benefited from high-scoring rides early in the heat, but a lull made it difficult to find a backup ride.

“;It's kind of heart-wrenching to get a wave in the beginning of the heat and not get any,”; said Garcia. “;I think it's just kind of luck. Every year the level of surfing goes up. Even though the local guys have a better knowledge of the wave, with a day like today you can surf this wave your whole life and if the wave doesn't come to you there's nowhere to go.”;

Hawaii Triple Crown favorites like Fred Patacchia Jr., Kekoa Bacalso, Dusty Payne and Pancho Sullivan were eliminated yesterday. According to Garcia, when Haleiwa is head high to double overhead it's anybody's game at the first jewel of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing.

“;It's not like, sit kind of deep, wait for the deep ones and sneak to the shoulder and get one on the shoulder,”; said Garcia. “;There's really no strategy. It's just catch whatever you can get.”;

Waving Hawaii's flag with Garcia at the final day of competition are Sebastien Zietz, Roy Powers, Hank Gaskell, Torrey Meister and Joel Centeio.

Centeio, who is a Haleiwa resident, convincingly won his heat yesterday morning. The 25-year-old displayed his signature front-side hack in his heat, garnering a two-wave total of 16.

“;For this contest, being that I live across the street, I just want to win this contest for Haleiwa and all the people around here,”; said Centeio. “;This is my home and I really want to do well in the Triple Crown this year.”;

For Centeio and Garcia, it's the pride of the islands that's the driving force in their performance at the Reef Hawaiian Pro. The first jewel of the men's Vans Triple Crown of Surfing will wrap up today. Wave faces are forecasted to be in the 16-to-20 foot range.

“;I'm hoping for waves and hopefully the swell fills in so there's a lot of waves for everybody and the best surfer wins,”; Garcia said.