Surf: Sloppy, confused, three-to-five feet, north northeast
Rounds Held: Womens Rounds 1 and 2; Men’s, Round one, Heats 1-7
Nature’s Call: At least it’s not flat!
Predicted: More confused surf and even more confused competitors.Tucked under the competitors’ tent at Haleiwa, a tow-headed girl peers from behind the aluminum bleachers and gazes at the world around her. Packed tight with the best women surfers on the planet, her big blue eyes absorb the surrounding whirl, suggesting that with enough time, this little four-year-old could join them. Sooner than everyone expects. Everyone except maybe Carissa Moore, an 11-year-old local girl who, in one heat this morning, went from being a virtual unknown . . .to the Triple Crown’s youngest competitor ever . . .to giant-killer . . .to the wahine movement’s newest sensation.”Did you hear about Carissa? She won her heat and beat Serena!”Hours after the clash, girls were still running around claiming the tiny Hawaiian; and each time, the news never got old. Big drama is hard to come by in these early rounds, so man or woman, young or old, seeing a small child move into the quarters against women twice her age is always a stoker. Unless you’re Serena Brooke, the former world power who suddenly found herself beached by a fourth place finish. And maybe Heather Clark. After all, you’re a Triple Crown champ, discovering after a heat you got second place to a fifth-grade amateur stings a bit.”Can’t really say,” responded Clark when asked to rate her foe. “I barely saw her out there.”Not surprising. After charging straight down to the reef on a 4-foot set wave in the opening seconds, Moore stuck to the inside lefts, carefully building long rides with smooth carves while Clark hacked away big moves out the back. With a tricky north northeast swell sloppily spilling through, Haleiwa’s notorious right wall was a rarity. While the best options changed heat to heat, lined-up lefts offered up the top scores of the women’s round, including Layne Beachley’s reigning ride of 8.63.Like Beachley, with the exception of Brooke and second-round shocker Rochelle Ballard, the WCT vets were the clear favorites. Chelsea Georgeson, Keala Kennelly, Sofia Mulanovich and Brazilian bruiser Tita Tavares matched polish with power to set the standard. Meanwhile, besides Melanie Bartels, who’s officially a shoe-in for next year’s World Championship Tour, all other “up and comers” got shut down: Holly Beck and Erica Hosseini lost out first round, and 16-year-pld phenom Anastasia Ashley showed promise by squeaking into Round 2 before being trampled by WCT frontrunner Kennelly and Pru Jeffries. On the other hand, mainland America’s first big league hopeful in years, Julia Christian, may be facing another stint on the ‘QS after suffering defeat at the hand of five-time champ Beachley.”I’ve still got Turtle Bay, which is my spot,” reasoned Christian, who made the 2003 tour by winning last year’s final WQS event. “But there’s nothing I can do right now — except maybe go drink some beers.”That’s the cruel world of the WQS. And, come Friday, Moore may also be dunking her sorrows in chocolate milk as she faces Clark, Mulanovich, Jaqueline Silva, in her first quarterfinal. But no matter how she finishes at Halewia, one look at the other names surrounding Carissa’s one spectator’s t-shirt — Ballard, Brooke, Beachley — shows exactly where this small wonder stands with her fans. . . . And what about the Men? Well, with only seven heats of the first round finished, it’s still too early to make any calls for the event, much less next year’s WCT. All the fellas with a shot for next year who surfed today — Roy Powers, Adrian Buchan, Paul Canning — are still going, but they’ll face a bumpy ride of hungry point-seekers and local heroes, a fact best exemplified by Gavin Beschen’s staggering 9.2 in the closing minutes. Needing an 8-plus to advance, Gav’s tube to Houdini escape to gaff was the best ride all day, shooting him straight from fifth to second and surprising everyone — including himself. (The gangly big-grom barely managed a “shoots” upon hearing the news.) But all the competitors gained ground when a visibly pissed Taj Burrow lost his top alternate spot after being caught in traffic on his way to check in, turning would-be foes into an on-scene booster club.”Missed it?!” stuttered a very pleased — not to mention, very in-form — Dean Randazzo. “Good! Good on ya!” — Matt Walker For complete results from Day One, go to www.triplecrownofsurfing.com