‘A Bronco Of A Ride’: The CT Returns To Sunset Beach After 18 Years
World #1 nearly gets knocked by #2 Ultimate Surfer after Kai calls in sick.
For the first time in 18 years, the CT is back at Sunset Beach. It’s only a mile up the road from the last event, but you couldn’t ask for two more different venues — perhaps this explains the complete flip-flop in performers from Pipe to today.
The conditions were exactly what you’d expect with a rising west swell. Big. Bumpy. Messy. Rain and rainbows for good measure. Each heat featured some sort of wobbly takeoff, botched turn, clean-up set, or combination of all three. Despite the challenging conditions, there was no shortage of scoring opportunities if you could scythe through the chop. Let’s get to it.
Highlights: The abundance of surprise winners. The noble board caddy. The two goofyfooters who won their heats today. The Hawaiian water patrol’s jet-ski skillz.
Lowlights: Big chop and bigger bogs. Sunset as a CT venue. Wash-throughs. BL eviscerating Griffin’s Colapinto’s board choice.
Here’s a brutal example of Sunset’s unpredictability: The top four Pipeline finishers were all sent to the Elimination Round. Three of them, Seth Moniz, Miguel Pupo and Caio Ibelli, were in the same heat. It also happened to be the last heat of the day, as nasty-looking 20-footers started capping out the back. Miggy took the L because somebody had to.
The highest heat total of the day went to Kanoa Igarashi, who minced Caio and Lucas in the second heat of round 1. No Huntington hops in sight as he went to fetch a 15.33 heat total.
Holy John. It took less than four minutes for John John to get his two scores, one for the best turn of the event, the other for the best barrel. Even though he didn’t complete either wave, the pair of sixes made tidy work of Owen Wright and Ethan Ewing, his diminutive 6’2 Ghost as the weapon of choice.
Imaikalani deVault looked like he was starting a redemption tour, and Morgan Cibilic and Samuel Pupo were in the way. Off the back of a disappointing 33rd finish at Pipeline, the Maui-native snagged the day’s highest single-wave score, an 8.93 in the closing seconds for two big hooks and a clutch tail-drop floater.
Kai Lenny bowing out was a bummer. Many were looking forward to seeing what the wildcard could do in unruly Sunset, but Kai withdrew from his heat with Filipe Toledo and Joao Chianca, citing illness. Kai has not entered the league’s Covid-19 protocols, according to the WSL.
Kai’s illness almost had massive repercussions for Kelly’s title, who, clad in yellow for the first time since 2014, was sent packing to Round 2 by Barron Mamiya and Callum Robson. After it was announced Kai would miss the Elimination Round, Koa Smith took his place against Kelly and Matthew McGillivray.
In the closing minutes of the Round 2 heat, Kelly was in second holding a slim lead over Koa. It looked like Kelly had it bagged until Koa swung on a bomb with less than a minute, needing a 5.9. At first the wave looked like a total burger, until Koa tapped the lip and airdropped back to the bottom just before the buzzer sounded.
Much tension on the beach. Had the Penultimate Surfer just taken a perfectly tanned fist to Slater’s farewell tour? Evidently not, 5.67 for Koa and the GOAT lives another day. This was a really tight heat (Kelly ended with 13.00, Koa had 12.77).
“This is about as big as you want for competition,” said Makua Rothman late in the day as whitewater filled the horizon. Timing turns and sections was paramount, and heat after heat the best in the world showed how hard Sunset is to predict. Board choice was critical, and made for a lively discussion in the booth.
Pretty much every guy reached for their step-ups to navigate Sunset’s signature bumps. Jake Marshall (33rd at Pipeline) wielded his 6’7 to edge out Jack Robinson for the fourth-highest total of the day (13.27), while Jackson Baker looked crisp on his 6’8 en route to besting Griffin Colapinto. Griffin, a former VTCS winner did not look comfortable on his 6’1, and the boys in the booth did not hold back as his board chattered on the chop and failed to bite.
Dad strength may have also factored in today as recent papis Kolohe Andino and Nat Young sent world No. 2, Seth Moniz to the elimination round. Jadson Andre was the lone goofy to win in Round 1. The other goofyfooters, with the exception of Connor O’Leary, all lost in Round 2, reaffirming the myth of Sunset as a wave favoring surfers with their left foot forward.
Heat 6 was an interesting clash with Italo vs Zeke vs Billy. Two guys with local knowledge and one electric goofy, Zeke took off with 90 seconds left needing a 4.16 to get him out of third place. It wasn’t an exciting wave, but the judges loved the finish and threw him a 6.67. Billy went to Round 2, where he advanced on Owen’s interference. I’d wager Billy is the only one in the draw who wished it was 20 feet bigger.
It won’t be, as the swell is dropping off throughout the week, though it should still be solid.
Hurley Pro Sunset Beach Round 1 Results:
HEAT 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 12.50 DEF. Ryan Callinan (AUS) 8.33, Matthew McGillivray (ZAF) 6.84
HEAT 2: Kanoa Igarashi (JAP) 15.33 DEF. Lucca Mesinas (PER) 10.17, Caio Ibelli (7.64)
HEAT 3: Barron Mamiya (HAW) 11.40 DEF. Callum Robson (AUS) 9.83, Kelly Slater (USA) 8.94
HEAT 4: Jadson Andre (BRA) 11.50 DEF. Conner Coffin (USA) 9.10, Jordan Lawler (AUS) 7.90
HEAT 5: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 12.43, DEF. Italo Ferreira (BRA) 11.67, Billy Kemper (HAW) 9.86
HEAT 6: Filipe Toledo (BRA) Joao Chianca (BRA) DEF. Kai Lenny (HAW)
HEAT 7: Imaikalani deVault (HAW) 14.76 DEF. Samuel Pupo (BRA) 9.00, Morgan Cibilic (AUS) 8.43
HEAT 8: John John Florence (HAW) 12.83 DEF. Ethan Ewing (AUS) 11.20, Owen Wright (AUS) 9.84)
HEAT 9: Jackson Baker (AUS) 10.77 DEF. Deivid Silva (BRA) 9.63, Griffin Colapinto (USA) 8.73
HEAT 10: Kolohe Andino (USA) 12.20 DEF. Nat Young (USA) 10.93, Seth Moniz (HAW) 7.97
HEAT 11: Jake Marshall (USA) 13.27 DEF. Jack Robinson (AUS) 12.40, Miguel Pupo (BRA) 5.87
HEAT 12: Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 9.33 DEF. Frederico Morais (POR) 8.43, Connor O’Leary (AUS) 1.33
Hurley Pro Sunset Beach Elimination Round Results:
HEAT 1: Matthew McGillivray (ZAF)13.57 DEF. Kelly Slater (USA) 13.00, Koa Smith (HAW) 12.77
HEAT 2: Billy Kemper (HAW) 11.66 DEF. Morgan Cibilic (AUS) 6.43, Owen Wright (AUS) 5.67
HEAT 3: Connor O’Leary (AUS) 13.54 DEF. Griffin Colapinto (USA) 12.17, Jordan Lawler (AUS) 6.60
HEAT 4: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 10.77 DEF. Seth Moniz (HAW) 9.26, Miguel Pupo (BRA) 6.83
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