- WSL / Brent Bielmann

When it comes to North Shore lore, heroes are made at Pipeline, but legends are made at Sunset. From a 17-year-old Jeff Hakman winning the first Duke contest in 1965 to a 50-year-old Kelly Slater paddling out today at the Hurley Pro Sunset Beach as the number one ranked surfer in the world, the wide-open, heavy-water expanse of Sunset -- known as Paumalū in Hawaiian -- demands a unique combination of talent, physical toughness and plain, old salt-water grit.

Names like Eddie Aikau, Reno Abellira and Barry Kanaiaupuni are among those that set the standard here, and more than a half century since the great Duke Kahanamoku greeted the first competitors at Sunset, the story was refreshed for a new era. After securing his hero status at Pipe a couple weeks ago and confirming his intentions to chase a 12th World Title on the 2022 Championship Tour, Slater was brought back down to Earth in the Opening Round of the Hurley Pro Sunset Beach.

Day 1 Highlights: Florence Sets Pace Early At Hurley Pro Sunset Beach
John John Florence came out swinging, while Kelly Slater managed to dodge elimination on opening day at Sunset.

Facing wildcard Barron Mamiya, who Slater eliminated in the dying seconds of the Billabong Pro Pipeline, and Aussie Rookie Callum Robson, the GOAT found himself relegated to the Elimination Round after mistakenly giving Robson the last wave of the heat. In a large, building north swell, the Robson found a clean line and laid down a solid under-the-hood hack to get the score.

With his back up against the wall in the Elimination Round, Slater faced South Africa's Matthew McGillivray and wildcard replacement Koa Smith. Switching from the quad-fin setup that he rode in th Opening Round to a more traditional thruster setup in the Elimination round, Slater immediately appeared more in tune with the turbulent conditions.

Locking in a pair of 6-point rides to jump out to a commanding lead, the back end of the heat turned into a nail-bitter as Smith got a bomb with no time on the clock but ultimately came up short, allowing Slater to advance.

Day 1 Post Show: The Championship Tour Returns To Sunset
The first two rounds of the men's Hurley Pro Sunset Beach are in the books, here's what we learned.

The stand-out surfers on a wild opening day were largely from Hawaii. John John Florence and Ezekiel Lau showed why they're both considered favorites to win the event, while wildcard Mamiya gave Slater hell in the Opening Round and rookie Imaikalani deVault nailed the highest scoring wave of the day, an 8.93.

Other rookies that came out swinging were California's Jake Marshall and Australia's Jackson Baker, who both won their opening heats today.

At day's end, wildcard Smith, Brazil's Miguel Pupo and Australians Owen Wright and Jordan Lawler were eliminated from the draw.

There is a lot of swell in the horizon and at the start of competition the WSL's Jessi Miley-Dyer noted that we're looking at a number of possible run days over the next week. Stay tuned, because as we've learned after all these years, Sunset always delivers.

Outlook For The Hurley Pro Sunset Beach
Large WNW swell shows on Tuesday, eases slightly Wednesday, and trends down Thursday for the Hurley Pro Sunset Beach.
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