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02.12.04 - A ‘BEEP BEEP’ DAY
From Sarge, O’Neill World Cup of Surfing, Sunset Beach, Thursday December 2nd, 2004.

Pancho Sullivan
Pancho Sullivan the Sunset maestro and popular North Shore identity pulling in and on the way to yet another heat win in his favourite stomping ground.

SUNSET and its roving take-off zone is often referred to in terms of being a football field sized arena and challenge, and the action in today’s round of 64 of the O’Neill World Cup of Surfing was most certainly played all over the field. The swell dropped quite markedly from the previous day’s still bona-fide main peak and bowl conditions, regrettably shifting much of the action over towards the point, and strong tradewinds continued to throw another variable into the gamut of factors the surfers had to contend with in their individual quests.

Kelly Slater was amongst the day's top performers.

As the top end of the WCT seeds were scattered into the draw, we predictably saw a jump in performance standards, but in the end it was the ocean calling the shots. At one end of the scale we saw now three-times world champ Andy Irons notch the highest score of the event in what would have been close to the best conditions of the day. Hours later we saw the defending event champion Jake Paterson unceremoniously bundled from the draw when he was forced to sit for 29 of his 30 minute heat without a wave, as the lineup dragged through a shocking low tide lull out. Oh Mother Ocean, a beautiful woman who can so easily transform into a wretched wench.

Miky Picon
Frenchman Miky Picon had a good dig in his heat, and was right up there for
a while before Ben Bourgeois and Occy got by him. It was not a good day for
the Euros, Basque Eneko Acero also eliminated from his run for the WQS

“What can you do?” commented Pato after his fruitless experience, “There was only a couple of little ones, and there was only one wave that I kind of would have wanted, but someone else had it, and that was about it. There were waves there I guess, you just had to sit and wait for them. That’s the way it goes. I’m frustrated, but the ocean is in charge”.

Phil Macdonald
Phil Macdonald slashes his way a little closer to a potential Triple Crown.

One of the other guys in the same heat categorised the experience with much fewer words, and there were a few four lettered ones in his short exclamation. Indeed, there was no shortage of expletives today. Many of the surfers have been wired for sound at this event, thanks of the technology of H2audiO, which will give the TV production from this event an exciting new dimension, but the editors will need to be very selective for today, as aspirations and even careers were smashed, it was very much a ‘beep…beep’ day.

Kelly Slater
There's bottom turns, and there's bottom turns, and Mr.Slater's are always
right up there with the best.

The sport’s two most prevalent figures of the times, Andy and Kelly, as well as perennial Sunset performer Pancho Sullivan and were amongst those that still maintained some highline scores, ditto 2001 world champ CJ Hobgood who opened the day’s round with an 8.83 to prove that despite the diminished conditions, there were still waves and solid scores to be had. Breaking in the middle there for much of the day, it averaged around 4-6’, though there were some bigger well-overhead sections, but around the low tide, we struggled to get 3-4’. Even so, even at the slack end of the conditions we still saw some awesome surfing, including another rock solid performance from Yamba’s Dan Ross, who is developing as one of the most acclaimed surfers of this North Shore season. Kieren Perrow was also impressive. Likewise, Joel Parkinson and Bruce Irons were relentless in repetitively trying to bust from long runs behind the crumbling curtains of the final heat of the day, typically pushing their inherent and applauded skills. The photos of the highlights of the day will make it look much better than it was overall, but rest assured it was far from prime Sunset.

Jake Paterson
Defending O'Neill World Cup of Surfing event champion didn't look too happy
after his heat, but you wouldn't be either if you waited 29 minutes of your
30 minute heat for a wave.

Popular local successions from the day included Nathan Carroll and Raymond Reichle, 19 and 18 years old respectively, and both of Haleiwa. Nathan finished towards the top end of the Vans Hawaiian Pro at Haliewa, and if he can duplicate that with a good result here at Sunset he would be nearing the bullseye for the highly esteemed Triple Crown Rookie award. The Triple Crown is obviously central focus for some, including Phil Macdonald who makes no secret about his ambitions. The Triple Crown Master Sunny Garcia continued his march to yet another crown today with a strong heat win, but he is not alone in his aspirations. After three seconds from three WCT finals over the past two seasons, Phil Macdonald is looking for a triple payback, and what would be better than a Triple Crown?

Andy Irons
The Champ A.I. jams on the brakes and snaps hard in the face of a closing
inside section on the end of his 9.6 ride today. Where's the rest? Sorry,
but the wave before his, and the spray from it, obscured his barrel run.

For the bulk of the ASP tourers, today was another step towards the guillotine of the end of season ratings. The pressure for some is intense. Currently 38th after a shocking season of nothing beyond 17ths and 33rds, Nathan Webster was a first heat casualty today, thereby left languishing out of touch on the WQS ratings. He now has to finish second at Pipeline to continue his ASP career, though having recently signed a five-year exclusive deal with Globe, at least his financial sustenance is assured. Former WCT surfers Renan Rocha and Ben Bourgeois were amongst the late rushers in the WQS ratings who moved through today, the veteran Brasileiro goofy Rocha looking like he is back for the WCT of 2005.

Bruce Irons
Bruce Irons bolts along into some more pittage in the last heat of the day.
He escaped just one, enough to see him through. We're all willing him on for
Pipeline hoping to see his extraordinary talent again there in the 2005 WCT

The ratings possibilities are a complex thing to explain, but as of the end of today’s round of 64, Brasil’s Bernado Pigmeu is looking like the last surfer in the WQS ratings, though his inclusion and that of several others is dependant upon the results in the Rip Curl Pipeline Masters. We currently have five WCT surfers that are double-qualified amongst the top end of the WQS ratings. They are Phil Macdonald, Raoni Monteiro, Richie Lovett, Paulo Moura and Tom Whitaker. Of those though, both Raoni and Richie are possibilities of slipping beyond the Top 27 WCT cut-off if they are eliminated from Pipe early. On the other hand, fellow WCT surfers currently requalified through the WQS, Neco Padaratz, Troy Brooks and Trent Munro could requalify through the WCT if they do well at Pipeline. All of those possibilities are also dependant on how the surfers around those mentioned finish at Pipeline as well.

Joel Parkinson
Joel Parkinson...that cutback just keeps on getting better.

According to the ASP statistician Al Hunt, the surfers who look like making the cut, outside of those possibilities aforementioned include Luke Stedman, Greg Emslie, Chris Ward, Toby Martin, Travis Logie, Tim Reyes, Bede Durbidge, Kirk Flintoff, Marcelo Nunes, Fred Patacchia, Renan Rocha, and Bernado Pigmeu. Dependant on results here, and from Pipeline, the cut-off could extend as far down the ratings as to include, Armando Daltro, Darren O’Rafferty, Ben Bourgeois and Eric Rebiere. Confused? Well, it’s not over until it’s over. Full stop. The call for the O’Neill World Cup of Surfing is that the event will most likely be wrapped up tomorrow, Friday December 3rd. The swell is dying but there is nothing else forecast in the event window.