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|Aussie junior Jack Freestone aired his way to a day high 15.66 heat total.|
Day one of the Reef Hawaiian Pro was a paddle-battling-display of high performance surfing. After waiting a record-breaking 10 days to start competition, the first jewel of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing kicked off yesterday with waist to barely head-high surf at Haleiwa. Event organizers capitalized on a moderate-size northwest swell, which finally produced contestable conditions for the Reef Hawaiian Pro.
The small surf favored the light-of-foot surfers and aerialists, and it also caused a fair share of interference calls. Power surfers like former World Champ Sunny Garcia and Pancho Sullivan fell victim to the conditions and failed to advance into the next round.
Despite a couple of decent north/northeast swells, Haleiwa was flatter than the Wailua Reservoir until yesterday. Some competitors called this month "the flattest November, ever." Conspiracy theorists and salty dogs claimed the small surf was a "karmic" backlash for not having a women's Triple Crown series this year. Event organizer attributed the lack of powerful North Shore surf to La Nina. However you want to explain it, there are three and a half days of competition being crammed into the final three days of the holding period.
Contest directors shortened heats from 30 minutes to 20 minutes for the first two days of the Reef Hawaiian Pro to get through the opening rounds quicker. Many competitors, like the Big Island's Torrey Meister, opted for short and stubby surfboards to combat the small surf and short heats.
"I rode this thick, wide, little board. It's a 5'7" and I usually ride a 6'1"," said Meister who won his first round heat yesterday. He advanced out of the Round of 128 with the North Shore's TJ Barron. "The waves have been small this whole winter. I've been riding this board a lot, so it feels good and I'm used to it."
|Torrey Miester was able to wiggle himself into the next round.|
Meister got busy on the peak east of Haleiwa, which is appropriately name "Peaks," in the beginning of the heat. His strategy was to bolster his wave count then paddle over to the traditional Haleiwa peak to improve scores, which proved successful.
"I noticed there were a lot more waves at Peaks so I started over there and tried to get waves," said Meister, who is a Kona native.
"You can't make a heat if you don't get waves. I wanted to catch as many waves as I can; just wiggle as much as I can and look like I'm doing something," chuckled Meister.
Current ASP Word Junior Champ Jack Freestone also benefited from the "Peak's strategy" and earned the highest two-wave total of the day: a 15.66 out of a possible 20 points. The young Aussie blew out the tail and punted airs, which fired up the crowd and judges.
"I sat on the little rights at Peaks and it sort of went my way. No one came over to hassle me," said Freestone, who has been training with six-time Vans Triple Crown of Surfing Champ Sunny Garcia. "Every event there is going to be aerials, it's more exciting. It's progressive and I guess that's what the judges want to see."
|Here's one way to stay disciplined in your training: pick six-time Triple Crown champ, Sunny Garcia as your coach.|
Freestone is lining himself up to possibly win the new Hawaiian Air Show award, which rewards the best aerial of the Vans Triple Crown with 250,000 Hawaiian Miles.
Competition will resume today at 8 a.m. HST with Freestone, Meister and the rest of the Round of 96. Current ASP Women's World Champ Carissa Moore will also compete as a wildcard today.2011 Reef Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa Results: