Dusty Payne (HAW) continued to control the spotlight at the Vans World Cup of Surfing, logging one of the highest heat scores of the day in a much-anticipated matchup with current ASP World No. 1 Gabriel Medina (BRA). Round 3 at Sunset was Medina's debut at this season's Vans Triple Crown of Surfing and the 20-year-old looked relaxed and precise on his backhand, advancing through in the second position.
Payne, 26, was electric, opening the 30-minute heat with an outrageous under-the-lip late airdrop, followed by a string of high speed, carving turns. His wave selection was flawless and proved to be the distinguishing factor between him and Medina; Medina's waves being substantially smaller and thereby limiting his scoring potential.
"It's always nice to compete with the top dogs," said Payne. "Beating Gabe doesn't really mean anything except I get to cruise to the next round. It doesn't really mean much. I was just looking to go and try to get two fun waves. I'm just having fun and the waves keep coming, and I just keep smiling. It's fun!"
Medina was his trademark calm self when discussing his return to the water today. With his greatest task ahead of him in the upcoming showdown for the ASP World Title against Mick Fanning (AUS) and Kelly Slater (USA) at the Billabong Pipe Masters, the Vans World Cup offers a solid warmup. It also allows him to check off a required Qualifying Series (QS) competition and have a little fun before the pressure piles on.
"No pressure, I just want to surf," said Medina. "The surf here is really enjoyable and I just want to have fun. Sunset is a fun wave."
New Zealand's Ricardo Christie continued an impressive run that began yesterday in Round 1 and now sees him locked in for Round 4 on the final day of this competition. He posted the top score of the competition so far today - 16.9 point total, advancing well clear of established World Tour competitor Josh Kerr (AUS), and eliminating 17-year-old Seth Moniz (HAW) and Brett Simpson (USA). Christie's highest wave score was 9.07 for a committed series of fast carves and powerful cutbacks.
"I was going with the whole not think about it and then it didn't really work the last three events," Christie said. "So I've just accepted it and I just have to get through some heats and I still want to just surf every heat as its own. I want to surf like I know I can and not get freaked out and surf like a kook."
Matt Wilkinson (AUS) is one surfer battling for requalification. Heading into the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing at No. 13 on the QS rankings and No. 24 on the WCT rankings. Wilkinson's backhand approach today was impeccable as the progressive goofyfooter got one step closer to securing his 2015 ticket among the world's best.
â€œIt's been an up-and-down year for me,â€ Wilkinson said. â€œThat was a big heat and I was fired up to get those waves. Think that puts me in a good position and hopefully we get some more great surf and I find myself in the Final.â€
Veteran campaigner Glenn Hall (IRL) posted a sensational come-from-behind victory in the dying moments of his Round 3 heat, threading an intense backhand barrel to score a Perfect 10 and advancing through to the Round of 32.
â€œNever say die,â€ Hall said. â€œIt was a frustrating heat up until that point. I was having a shocker. I knew that if I could get the wave though, I could get the score. Pumped to get through and looking forward to more waves on the way.â€
Organizers will assess conditions tomorrow morning for a potential start to the final day of the Vans World Cup of Surfing, however it is possible that they could wait for the next rise in swell expected Friday. Surfline, official forecaster for the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, is calling for the following:
Another medium to possibly solid NNW swell for the last couple days of the event waiting period. Trades ease a bit through mid-week and will be at moderate levels for the second half of the week.
Stay tuned for the next call at 7:45 a.m. local time Thursday.