Thursday, December 9, 1999
way to title
The 19-year old AustralianBy Greg Ambrose
surfs to the Rip Curl Cup crown
and a spot in the
Special to the Star-Bulletin
As contestants spent days adjusting to alternately huge, small and merely big waves at Sunset Beach, former and current world champions were knocked out of the Rip Curl Cup and fell further behind in the Triple Crown of Surfing title race.
By yesterday's final day of competition, the fall of surfing's giants had been deafening. Kelly Slater, Michael Ho, Tom Curren and Mark Occhilupo, representing 10 world titles and four Triple Crown championships, were out of the event.
But a friendly, slim 19-year-old surfer from Australia's Sunshine Coast was too busy shredding the perfect 6- to 10-foot Sunset waves to notice.
Zane Harrison had his hands full grappling with three-time Triple Crown winner Sunny Garcia and Haleiwa's Ross Williams.
But Harrison had proven his mettle throughout the event, surfing all the way from the trials to win the Rip Curl Cup.
"I didn't think I was in a zone," Harrison said.
"When you're sitting out there, you always think the other person is getting the better waves. Apparently I must have gotten some good waves. Hopefully, by winning here in Hawaii I've proven myself as a solid surfer.''
Paul Paterson finished second behind Harrison, followed by Williams and Garcia.
Garcia was on a mission of his own to avenge his loss of the world title earlier in the season to Occhilupo. He grabbed the biggest waves and made heart-stopping late takeoffs, then surfed full-throttle all the way, powering off the bottom and jamming hard off the stop, slowing down only for the occasional tube ride.
Williams, meanwhile, was just happy to finally have a dynamic canvas on which to paint his power moves in front of friends and family.
Unfortunately for the two Hawaii surfers, the giant north peak that had provided them with so many excellent big walls and deep barrels betrayed them in the final heat.
Garcia and Williams grew increasingly frustrated waiting outside on the north peak, watching as Harrison snagged wave after high-scoring wave in the middle west section. Harrison vacuumed up the 6- and 8-foot waves, working the long walls with big moves off the top and bottom.
Paterson, the 1996 Rip Curl Cup winner, finally joined Harrison at the west section and the two of them continued racking up points.
Inexplicably, Garcia and Williams held their position on the outside and were rewarded for their faith with occasional low-scoring 10-foot peaks that provided an impressive drop but quickly faded out, leaving no chance for high-points maneuvers.
"In the semifinal I was in a zone,'' said a disappointed Williams. "The final was just the opposite. I could see Zane snapping up all of those good waves. Everywhere I looked he was taking off on another scoring wave, and I was always 20 yards from him as he was getting the waves.
"He rose to the occasion, and was surfing really well, mature for his age. With his round, powerful turns, using his rail, it was rare for a kid his age at Sunset.''
Harrison's victory yesterday earned him a spot in the trials competition to enter the last Triple Crown of Surfing event, the Mountain Dew Gerry Lopez Pipe Masters.
"We're staying right at Pipeline, I've been here nearly a month and I can't believe I've got a chance to go into the Pipe Masters," said Harrison.
"I've got a good dig at the Triple Crown now."