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Sullivan advances at World Cup surf


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POSTED: Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Pancho Sullivan put on a high performance big-wave-riding clinic at the second jewel of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing yesterday in 8- to 12-foot wave faces.

The 36-year-old North Shore surfer schooled the competition yesterday in the last heat of the third round at the O'Neill World Cup of Surfing. The contest is scheduled to continue today, surf permitting.

Australian Mick Fanning, the 2007 Association of Surfing Professionals world champion, advanced out of the heat with Sullivan. This was the first heat of the Triple Crown for Fanning, and the 28-year-old was glad to be in competition with Sullivan.

“;I was excited. I hadn't had a heat for a while, so it was good,”; Fanning said. “;Just stoked to be out there with Pancho. He's one of my favorite guys out at Sunset.”;

Fanning and many other top-tier pro surfers, such as Sunny Garcia and Kekoa Bacalso, admire Sullivan's powerful approach to Sunset Beach. He's won the Xcel Pro a record five times and is always a threat at one of the trickiest waves on the North Shore.

Despite a wealth of local knowledge and confidence, Sullivan had a slow start because of a declining swell.

Once Sullivan started going, there was no stopping the powerhouse. His top turns seemed to displace more water than a tsunami. His roundhouse cutbacks acted like a nitrous boost, giving Sullivan more speed out of the turns. He earned a two-wave total of 15.47 out of a possible 20 points to win the heat.

Sullivan is looking leaner and meaner this winter season due to a change in his diet.

“;The last few years I was struggling with indigestion. I was always eating right and training a lot, but my body was constantly storing weight,”; admits Sullivan. “;I found out I was actually wheat and gluten intolerant and that's really changed my perspective on diet and nutrition.”;

While Sullivan is surfing with more speed and precision than ever, there's more incentive to win the World Cup.

Sullivan and his wife, Haunani, recently found out that their 3-month-old daughter needs life-saving surgery to correct a heart disorder.

“;My daughter, Kehau, was born Sept. 1, and shortly after birth we found out she had a congenital heart defect,”; Sullivan said. “;She had to undergo a temporary life-saving procedure, but they still have to repair her pulmonary artery, which is defective, and that can't be done in Hawaii. The cost is really, really expensive. Even with insurance, it's going to cost at least $300,000 to $400,000 in various surgeries that she's going to require.”;

The North Shore community and Sullivan's pro surfing friends and family have organized a fundraiser for Kehau at Breakers, a restaurant located in the North Shore Marketplace, at 6 p.m. Saturday.