An epic winter swell churned through the Sunset Beach lineup for Day 3 of the HIC Pro, Presented by Vans. Surfers were challenged to survive some of the heaviest conditions Sunset can deliver and the biggest swell to hit the North Shore so far this season. Wave face heights hit 30 feet and more on the sets as the extra large NWN swell filled in throughout the day.
HIC Pro Surfing Director Marty Thomas called the contest off midday after the horn blew to end the final heat in Round 4.
"This-morning we had some solid surf on hand, 12-15 even 18 foot. We decided to go for it and I'm glad we did because the Round of 32 had excellent surfing in some very difficult conditions.
"After the round of 32, we decided to stop the event. There's some wash through sets coming through. The surfers are really taxed from the paddling, getting caught inside, as well as the water patrol. There's forecasted bigger sets this afternoon, so we want to come back tomorrow."
The forecast for tomorrow is excellent, showing surf in the 8-to-10 foot range. "We'll run the Quarters, Semis and Finals so it should be a great day tomorrow," said Thomas.
Ian Walsh (HAW) and Jack Robinson (AUS) - two standouts of the event - went wave for wave in Heat 5, with Walsh posting the highest single score of the morning, a near perfect 9.87. The massive waves played in Walsh's favor as he remained confident and poised with every turn and hack off the big open faces, which gained him entry into the Quarterfinals.
"I feel strong, ready for winter," said Walsh. "Waves showed up a lot more today than yesterday. There's a lot of energy with this incoming swell, a lot of water moving and that made it really challenging to be in the right place. You had to pick when to shoot to the inside to line up a wave. There's a lot of work to position yourself but if you got the right wave there was a lot of opportunity."
Other standouts today included Maui's Olamana Eleogram, who discovered a magic ride in an Eric Arakawa beach demo board to excel in the substantial surf. The Hana local took an early lead with a 7.00 and advanced on with a combined score of 11.17 out of a possible 20.00. When the contest resumes, Eleogram will compete against a stacked heat including Walsh, Joel Centeio (HAW) and Mitchell Parkinson (AUS) - and has decided to take ownership of the borrowed board.
Hank Gaskell (HAW), found one of the only barrels of the day, which garnered an 8.17 from the judges and advancement into the Quarterfinals as well. With a win at Sunset in 2011, Gaskell knows the lineup well and was able to perform at top level in the tricky ocean circumstances.
Organizers anticipate an 8 a.m. local time start tomorrow morning, followed by an 11 a.m. Final.
Quarter Final draw for tomorrow:
H1: Sheldon Simkus (AUS); Myles Padaca; Billy Kemper; Kaito Kino
H2: Cristobal De Col (PER); Koa Smith; Hank Gaskell; Alex Smith
H3: Ian Walsh; Joel Centeio; Olamana Eleogram; Mitchell Parkinson (AUS)
H4: Benji Brand; Jack Robinson (AUS); Isaiah Moniz; Kamalei Alexander