The New Year has brought more incredible surf to the North Shore of Oahu, following one of the best Vans Triple Crown of Surfing seasons in over a decade, and will resume competitive surfing with the Sunset Open, a Men's QS 1,000 and Men's and Women's Pro Junior, at Sunset Beach. The event will take place from January 18 - 28 and witness three winners rise to claim the lead on the WSL Hawaii/Tahiti Nui 2020 Regional rankings.
The Sunset Open features a majority local field but sees a strong international class each year since athletes the world-over travel to Oahu between October and February to test themselves at some of the most powerful, prominent waves on the planet. Countries represented will include Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Brazil, Colombia, Japan, Mexico, Portugal and Tahiti, however the Hawaii contingent makes up over 60-percent of the field.
This QS and Pro Junior event takes place during the apex of Northern Hemisphere winter swells, which makes for an exciting start to 2020 as Sunset Beach is known to handle waves in the twenty-foot range. Surfers as young as 13 will compete in the Sunset Open and Pro Junior, and last year's Men's Pro Junior winner, Roi Kanazawa (JPN), will return to the famed wave after earning his first professional victory in Hawaii at just 16 years old.
[Click here to relive last year's highlights, or below! ](https://www.worldsurfleague.com/posts/369624/sunset-open-highlights)
Top-seeded surfers in the Men's QS division feature former CT member, Ezekiel Lau (HAW), who earned runner-up finishes in October and December at Sunset Beach in the Vans Pro Men's QS 3,000 and Vans World Cup of Surfing Men's QS 10,000. One of the most feared opponents in the draw, Lau's power-surfing dominates the lineup and his savvy is validated by five professional wins across eight years (2011 - 2018), including the Pro Junior.
"I love Sunset Beach, it is one of my favorite waves to compete at," said Lau. "I can't really explain it, but it has definitely been one of those waves I've had a special connection with. I want to do as many events that I can at Sunset to keep in touch with that special connection. It's hard to predict and hard to surf and is a bigger, more powerful wave than most on tour."
Lau will start and end 2020 at Sunset Beach, a wave that has helped define his career by offering a platform to the top. While he ended 2019 just shy of CT requalification, he is energized to take on the QS tour once again and prove his position among the world's best.
"Getting second twice this year at Sunset definitely fires me up," Lau continued. "Anyone that knows me knows I hate getting second. Being that close to winning and letting it slip definitely stings. But I'm fired up to get the year started, and what better way to do it than right here at Sunset Beach."
Defending event winner, Cody Young (HAW), faced off with Lau last month at Sunset Beach during the Vans World Cup of Surfing in excellent conditions. Young went on to earn fourth place, marking a career-highlight and the kind of confidence needed to go against fierce competitors in a demanding surf break. At 20 years old, Young has broken through as one of the top athletes from Maui and will look to safeguard his title from other fellow islanders including Sunset victor and veteran Ian Walsh (HAW), world-renown waterman Kai Lenny (HAW) and 2018 Sunset Open winner Billy Kemper (HAW), all who are entered in this year's competition.
In the Pro Junior Men's Final last year, Young's younger brother, Levi Young (HAW), made his own mark by earning third place in the competition after contesting Kanazawa, California's Crosby Colapinto (HAW) and Maui standout Eli Hanneman (HAW) in challenging overhead conditions. This year, Young, Kanazawa and Hanneman will arrive on the Noth Shore to contest the 32-man format and defend their podium position.
Gabriela Bryan (HAW) has won the Sunset Pro Junior for the past two years and monopolized the regional tour on the women's side with wins at Pipeline, Sunset Beach and in Tahiti. After a stellar finish to 2019, Bryan went on to compete in the World Junior Championships in Taiwan this past November and now carries the title of third in the world. 2020 marks her final year competing in the Pro Junior division and she is determined to make history by winning the Pro Junior three years in a row.
Other top seeds in the Sunset Pro Junior Women's division include 2017 Regional QS Winner, Savanna Stone (HAW) and 2018 finalist Luana Silva (HAW), who will matchup against a handful of international competitors from Japan, New Zealand and Brazil.
LIVE scoring of the Sunset Open and Sunset Pro Junior will be available on WorldSurfLeague.com and the free WSL app. The event is also free and open to the public, however, efforts to protect and restore the sensitive shoreline of Sunset Beach are in effect. Please heed all posted signs and lifeguard warnings and park in the Sunset Beach Support Park, located across Kamehameha Highway next to the restrooms and showers.