Sweet poetic justice was delivered at Sunset Beach as Kauai's Danny Fuller won the first event of his 15-year career at the HIC Pro Sunset, qualifying him for the prestigious Vans Triple Crown of Surfing that begins November 12. It all went down in triple-overhead surf at a venue famous for being unforgiving, but Fuller, 32, was committed and sharp on his backhand, posting a clear-cut victory in the four-man Final.
Established Samsung Galaxy ASP World Championship Tour (WCT) competitor Fred Patacchia (HAW) finished runner-up, defending HIC Pro champion Mason Ho (HAW) finished third, and Maui's Billy Kemper finished fourth. Ho's third place result saw him clinch the ASP Hawaii Regional Champion title.
Fuller has long been respected as one of Hawaii's most talented chargers and versatile surfers in everything from giant surf to dredging barrels. He has made several Finals at Pipeline and Sunset over the years, but never tasted victory. That all changed today.
It was an emotional win on many levels: surfing with a Final full of close friends from Hawaii; winning at home after so many years; and qualifying for the Vans Triple Crown. But this year has been particularly tough for Fuller. His mother was diagnosed with cancer early this year and he withdrew from competitions to tend to family. To dedicate the win to his mother, his wife and young daughter was a bright moment.
"My mom has sacrificed so much for me along the way, so to dedicate this win to her means so much," Fuller said. "This moment feels surreal, but I feel like I've earned it. I finally realized that if I can surf at my best performance, I can be as good as anybody. I've made Finals at Pipe and here before, but there's only once I was in all three events of the Triple Crown and, unfortunately, I suffered a back injury right before it. It's Hawaii. Dreams are made and broken. I've just got to keep it positive and do my best.
"The ocean has been the giver of everything to me in my life and I'm so grateful for that." In addition to surfing, Fuller is also an established ocean photographer with collections in galleries in New York and Los Angeles.
As the official qualifier for the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, the HIC Pro and the impact of its results on the ASP Hawaii Regional ratings determined 11 final entrants into the upcoming Reef Hawaiian Pro, the first of the three Triple Crown events. The final list includes Fuller, Kemper, Joel Centeio, Pancho Sullivan, Jamie O'Brien, Reef McIntosh, Landon McNamara, Ian Walsh, Imaikalani Devault and and ASP Junior brothers Seth and Isaiah Moniz.