The victorious one, Zeke Lau.
Zeke Lau Wins The Vans World Cup At Sunset
Big waves are made for big people.
Sunset Beach was firing for the final day of the Vans World Cup, and subsequently, the QS season.
Eight-to-twelve foot by Hawaiian standards and with brisk offshore winds, the “dropping” northwest swell never lost an inch throughout the day and if anything became more clean and consolidated as time passed.
While the real story of the day is in who did and did not qualify (read that here), we felt the event was worthy of chronicling in and of itself. Below are some of the noteworthy moments and performances from the day.
Ex-Vans Triple Crown leader Joel Parkinson looked out of sorts this morning, picking average waves and struggling to connect maneuvers. It could be assumed that the vast majority of surf fans want to see Joel win the Triple Crown in his final year on Tour, Stab’s entire staff included. We’re sure he’ll rebound at Pipeline.
Matthew McGillivray, the 21-year-old from South Africa, did the best turn we saw all event. After dropping into a lumpy set wave, Matthew found some clean water and beelined it toward the lip. Just before reaching the peak, Matty turned hard on his heel rail and carved all the way down the face, narrowly escaping the wave’s converging sections. After a brief submersion in the whitewash, Matthew appeared on his feet to earn an 8.2. We’ll be seeing plenty more from Matt in years to come.
Kyuss King, 18, made great use of his Vans wildcard, skirting all the way to the quarters in proper Sunset conditions. This result, along with Kyuss’ palpable voice change, implies that the Aussie metal-grom has graduated to a point of physical maturity. He should be fully on the QS next year, throwing hands with the big boys.
Australia’s Soli Bailey did everything he had to do (and nothing more) to earn himself a 2019 qualifying spot. The Australian looks supremely comfortable on a bigger board and, considering his win at the Volcom Pipe Pro a couple years back, will probably not suffer from “little kid syndrome” on the CT. We’ll see how his skills translate to Snapper in 2019.
If you never had to watch the guy surf – or for that matter, see his oddly-decorated surfcraft – Jadson Andre would be the least hateable person on earth. The Brazilian’s spirit is so genuine, his positivity contagious!
Jadson nailed a buzzer-beater 8.1 to win his quarterfinal and officially earn a spot on next year’s Tour. His reaction was equal parts adorable and hilarious, with Jadson throwing his hands in the air and convulsing like a true Evangelist. So elated was Jadson with his requalification that he couldn’t get to his feet in the semis.
Weslley Dantas is the little brother of Wiggolly but don’t you dare call him small. The Brazilian is built like a fullback and surfs with remarkable skill and ferocity. Last night, at maxing Banzai Pipeline, Weslley split his knee open on the reef. Some ace medical work allowed the younger Dantas to surf today, and up until the final minute of his quarterfinal everything was going great.
On a wave that he simply didn’t need (Weslley was already comfortably in the lead with very few minutes remaining), Weslley hit a warbly Sunset lip and got folded in an unfortunate position. He returned to the beach with a severe limp, which was determined by the WSL medical team to be a minor ankle sprain. With CT qualification in the cards (he needed to make the finals to make the CT), Weslley decided to the bear the pain and surf his semifinal, to limited success. Despite that, Weslley still won the Vans Triple Crown Rookie of the Year award, which is a huge statement from the 18-year-old.
With two minutes left in his semifinal, Jordy dodged a barrel that “had 10 written all over it”, according to WSL commentator Strider Wasilewski. In retrospect it’s true: Jordy should have pulled up sooner. With a more aggressive line, the South African could have backdoored the gaping Sunset tube and (probably) been deposited in the channel, with nothing more than a spit-stinging back to show for it. Instead, Jordy went over the falls and lost the heat. “He’s gonna look at this replay and… it’s gonna be brutal to watch,” Strider concluded.
Griffin Colapinto continues to impress with his consistently radical and radically improving approach. By next year, Griff is gonna surf more like Parko than Parko surfs like Parko, with a proper air game to boot. All of this, plus Griffin’s apparent lack of fear, points to him having a long and successful career in our wonderful sport of surfing. But if there was one moment to be remembered from his fourth place finish, it was in the semifinals when Griffin lost his foot on a carve and somehow managed to replace it while steering down a vertical wall, then continuing the wave as if nothing had happened. “That was some sort of miracle,” noted WSL commentator Chris Cote. “He’s like Captain Gluefoot… he refuses to fall,” Ross Williams concluded.
Jesse Mendes has developed an unshakeable QS competitive formula that simply doesn’t translate to the CT. Case in point: Jesse managed to get second place in the Vans World Cup without piquing my interest once today. I say this not to denigrate Jesse, but to inspire a necessary change in his approach. Jesse’s back on Tour in 2019 and will need to perform some serious work before April if he wants to become a true CT contender. On a positive note, we're pretty sure Jesse's leading the Triple Crown right now (the WSL hasn't released the data yet).
Joan Duru dropped two excellent scores in five minutes to overcome a combination situation in semifinal number one. “People at home have no idea how hard that is,” said North Shore local and competitive surfing expert, Ross Williams. This Houdini act came after Joan’s second place finish at the second-to-last CT event of the season, Portugal, both of which speak to his mental fortitude and burning desire to remain on the CT. Unfortunately for the Frenchman, he finished third in a final that required a victory for his requalification. If Joan wants to surf at Snapper this April, he’ll have to make some heats at Pipe. Good thing he’s good in tubes.
Las but not least, today, at big, shifty Sunset, Zeke Lau became a 2x Vans World Cup Champion. To the avid surf fan, Zeke's victory should be completely unsurprising. Not only does the Hawaiian have a physical advantage over his peers, but according to Zeke, he “knows Sunset as good as anyone” – a fact he proved with superior wave selection in the blustery final.
Zeke’s surfing throughout the event was strong and completely in-control. He displayed supreme command of the conditions and was clearly deserving of the win. We can only hope that this form will transfer to Zeke's 2019 Tour efforts.