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Friday, December 2, 2011
Big names lead charge at Sunset

By Daniel Ikaika Ito
ESPN.com

Taj Burrow maintained his Triple Crown-winning form in some unruly conditions at Sunset.

Preview Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Final

If you left the Vans World Cup of Surfing early yesterday for The Eddie Opening Ceremony at Waimea, then you missed seeing Dane Reynolds tame wild Sunset. In his typical, nonchalant manner the regular foot from Ventura, Calif., put down the highest two-wave total of the event, an 18.37 out of a possible 20 points, in the last heat of the day.

Dropping big scores like that was a challenge in the massive and wild eight to 10-foot surf at Sunset. The winds out of the north were tearing up the faces of the wave like acne on an adolescent, but Reynolds knew where to find the gems and was fired up.

"There were really good waves," he said about the conditions. "It was pretty big-junky and stormy, but some really, really nice lined up ones."

Reynolds manhandled the competition, beating Hank Gaskell, who advanced in second, Julian Wilson and Tomas Hermes. Reynolds didn't win with airs or tail blowing maneuvers, rather the number 38 on the World Title rankings displayed iconic-Sunset, rail-to rail surfing -- and the judges ate it up.

Evan Valiere kept the locals' streak going, eliminating ASPers Adam Melling and Brett Simpson.

"I just did a couple of turns and Snake [Jake Patterson] was caddying for me and I told him I didn't know if it was a three or an eight," laughed Reynolds who earned a 9.37 out of a possible 10 points for that wave, which was his opening ride. "They weren't crazy turns or anything but just drawing nice, open lines looks good from the beach."

Reynolds won the last heat yesterday on a new, unfamiliar board and does not have much experience at big Sunset Beach. "Not really," replied Reynolds when asked about how comfortable he feels at Sunset. "I use the same process that I use to catch waves pretty much everywhere else in the world: I sit inside and wait for the little ones that have a nice line and just try to avoid getting the sets on the head."

A simple, but effective strategy. It seemed like Reynolds was making the best reads of the second jewel of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. Jordy Smith was not far behind, though. Smith surfed in the first heat of the day and threw down the gauntlet immediately.

"I've done pretty well in the past here so I'm just hoping the conditions stay big and I can get a few good waves," Smith noted, after winning his heat. "I'm feeling really good. I've been training a lot, I'm feeling confident and my boards are really good so I think the only thing left is to get the right waves."

Dangerous words from a guy that could very easily win this thing. "I've only been here for four days, so it's pretty much my first surf," Smith added. "I went to Maui and hung out, but it's my first surf on Oahu. So that was a good way to start the season."

Kieren Perrow's known for his comfort in big waves, a characteristic that pays off in situations like this.

Kauai's Evan Valiere also won his round of 64 heat yesterday and explained that surfing Sunset well takes a sixth sense. "The battle the whole time is just getting waves or just getting a wave. You really gotta use your intuition and feel out where the waves are gonna come," said Valiere, who advanced to the final day of competition with a 10.77 two-wave total.

The goofy-foot from Kauai won the Xcel Pro at Sunset Beach in 2006, but still thinks that it's a difficult wave to feel totally at ease on. "I'm getting more and more comfortable at Sunset, but that wave is always tricky no matter what," said Valiere. "The heats go by extremely fast out there; you think you have a half an hour heat but it goes by so quick."

Tahiti's Michel Bourez unlocked the secret early, applying some "man surfing" to his approach, which also involved locking in a nine-point ride. "You know when you get a good barrel and a nine you're pretty much set for the next round," he said afterwards. "I was happy to be out there, but I didn't want to hassle the boys, too because they were battling for second place. It was great, but I was just wondering if I could get another high score, but it never happened."

With the North/Northwest swell forecasted to drop a little today, there is a strong chance the waves will be in the six to eight-foot range. Setting up ideal North Shore conditions for the last day of competition.

RESULTS ROUND OF 64
HEAT 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 17.478pts ; Heath Joske (AUS) 11.00pts ; Vincent Duvignac (FRA)10.00pts ; Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 7.66pts
HEAT 2 : Evan Valiere (HAW) 10.77pts ; Adam Melling (AUS) 9.53pts ; Junior Faria (BRA) 5.10pts ; Brett Simpsom (USA) 2.57pts
HEAT 3 : Dusty Payne (HAW) 10.20pts ; Jamie O'Brien (HAW) 7.60pts ; Taylor Knox (USA) 6.57pts ; Brent Dorrington (AUS) 5.90pts
HEAT 4 : Josh Kerr (AUS) 15.04pts ; Jesse Mendes (BRA) 13.63pts ; Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 10.83pts ; Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 6.54pts
HEAT 5 : Michel Bourez (PYF) 15.23pts ; Travis Logie (ZAF) 10.17pts ; Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) 6.57pts ; Torrey Meister (HAW) 4.94pts
HEAT 6 : Kai Otton (AUS) 10.43pts ; Evan Geiselman (USA) 8.90pts ; Matt Pagan (USA) 6.87pts ; Daniel Ross (AUS) 6.17pts
HEAT 7 : Nat Young (USA) 13.17pts ; Kieren Perrow (AUS) 12.34pts ; Pancho Sullivan 11.80pts ; Tiago Pires (PRT) 5.43pts
HEAT 8 : Taj Burrow (AUS) 12.67pts ; Olamana Eleogram (HAW) 9.47pts ; Kalani Chapman 5.50pts ; Davey Cathels (AUS) 4.73pts
HEAT 9 : Dane Gudauskas (USA) 7.67pts ; Tonino Benson (HAW) 7.20pts ; Adriano De Souza (BRA) 6.83pts ; Dale Staples (ZAF) 6.56pts
HEAT 10 : Ian Walsh (HAW) 11.90pts ; Joel Centeio (HAW) 11.07pts ; Jadson Andre (BRA) 9.50pts ; Kolohe Andino (USA) 7.27pts
HEAT 11 : Damien Hodgood (USA) 9.76pts ; Lincoln Taylor (AUS) 9.47pts ; Willian Cardoso (BRA) 5.93pts ; Gabe Kling (USA) 4.57 pts
HEAT 12 : Adrian Buchan (AUS) 15.87pts ; CJ Hodgood (USA) 9.23pts ; Keanu Asing (HAW) 7.27 ; Adrien Toyon (REU) 4.10pts
HEAT 13 : Chris Davidson (AUS) 13.97pts ; Mitchel Coleborn (AUS) 12.97pts ; Glenn Hall (IRL) 11.00pts ; Thiago Camarao (BRA) 9.50 pts
HEAT 14 : Sunny Garcia (HAW) 12.46pts ; Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 11.67pts ; Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 8.33pts ; Shaun Joubert (ZAF) 6.40pts
HEAT 15 : John John Florence (HAW) 15.83pts ; Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 14.00pts ; Ian Gentil 8.10pts ; Mason Ho (HAW) 7.16pts
HEAT 16: Dane Reynolds (USA) 18.37; Hank Gaskell (Hawaii) 11.56; Julian Wilson (Aust) 7.36; Tomas Hermes Brazil) 6.17