Seventeen-year-old Kalani David (HAW) took a break from nearby Waialua High School today and posted the highest heat total of the 2014 Reef Hawaiian Pro so far, eclipsing a world-class field with a score of 19.43 out of a possible 20. David, who juggles professional skateboarding and surfing with his academic schedule, set the bar high in his Round 1 heat with a combination of vertical turns, a free-flying aerial and critical positioning. His performance was a perfect match for the excellent 10-foot surf that greeted competitors this morning.
"I've got nothing to lose, I just went all out and it paid off," he said, after a heat in which he delivered two near-perfect wave scores of 9.80 and 9.63.
David will compete in all three stops on this year's Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. The Reef Hawaiian Pro is the first event and he'll surf again in a Round 2 heat when competition resumes.
"My goal for the Triple Crown is just to have fun and keep making it through heats, putting on a show for everyone," he continued. "To everyone at Waialua High School -- the Bulldogs -- who's watching, thanks for supporting me. Thanks also to my family, my sponsors, my friends, everyone for helping me out and everyone putting on this great event, I'm having a great time."
Huge scores continued to drop as the event pushed through the remaining Round 1 heats followed by 12 heats of Round 2. The day's top performers who broke into the 17-point range included Wade Carmichael (AUS), Joel Centeio (HAW), Joan Duru (FRA), Ezekiel Lau (HAW), Davey Cathels (AUS), Conner Coffin (USA) and Pancho Sullivan (HAW).
Today also delivered disappointment, with early exits for several surfers who came to Hawaii in need of strong results. Round 2 losses have dampened the dreams of 2015 World Championship Tour (WCT) qualification for several surfers, including Ricardo Christie (NZL), Tim Reyes (USA) and Carlos Munoz (CRI).
Among those who will leave the contest disappointed is Guadalupe's Charly Martin, 24. Currently ranked 14th on the ASP Qualification Series (QS), Martin hoped to move beyond Round 3 and build his ratings points in the hopes of earning a place among next year's Top 34. During his wave-starved 30 minute heat he failed to catch a single ride, and sat motionless, staring to the sky in disbelief as the final horn sounded.
In contrast, Brazil's Tomas Hermes, 27, held tight to his No. 8 spot on the QS, bringing a polished and perfected forehand display to win his heat ahead of local legend Sunny Garcia, while eliminating Brent Dorrington (AUS) and Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA).
â€œI'm super close, still in the Top 10 on [the QS] tour, and I'm super excited,â€ said Hermes, whose smooth rail-to-rail surfing was not lost on the judges. â€œI'm feeling so happy staying here in Hawaii and feeling strong."
Nathan Hedge (AUS), 35, formerly held a spot on the WCT and is currently rated 25th on the QS. Hedge is on the verge of requalifying for the Top 34, but will need back-to-back results here and at the final QS event of the season, the Vans World Cup of Surfing at Sunset Beach. He clawed his way from fourth to first in a last-minute show of brilliance, posting a vital second score of 8.37 in his Round 2 heat to take the win move through to Round 3.
"It's so amazing coming back when you need a score and you get it at the end," said a relieved Hedge. "With the priority and the way that the waves are, it's pretty much the last roll of the dice. It feels good to back yourself and then get the wave and actually preform on it.
"To come back and surf Haleiwa and be here for the season, it's an honor. I'm not thinking too far ahead, I just want to do my best surfing on each wave and the rest of the stuff takes care of itself. I've got the beauty of experience over here and I've had to qualify here a bunch of times. I know I can do it and if it's meant to be, it'll be, so I'm just going to enjoy it and embrace it."
Two more days of competition remain before a champion is crowned, and top seeds like reigning three-time ASP World Champion Mick Fanning (AUS) and defending event winner Michel Bourez (PYF) will enter the draw in upcoming Round 3.
Another pulse of swell is expected to fill in tonight for tomorrow and could see the contest continue in the morning, however there is potential for unfavorable side-shore west winds. Catch the action LIVE at this site when the action resumes at 7:45 a.m. local time Friday.