CONDITIONS: 6 ft. and glassy. Fading swell and approaching storm.
EVENTS RUN: Quarters, Semis and Final.
NATURE’S CALL: Hurry up, I can’t hold this storm off much longer.
PREDICTIONS: Much howling at the moon.
No one even saw Bruce’s last wave. After the buzzer, last guy out, Bruce saddled a long roping righthander, smacked the lip twice without shedding an ounce of speed and launched a lofting no-hand frontside air over the Toilet Bowl. Probably a 9-something, if it had been during the heat. But no one saw it anyway. They were all too busy watching Sunny Garcia being chaired up the beach by Kala Alexander and the rest of the Wolf Pak ™. As they should be. Today wasn’t the day for freesurfing wonderboys. Today was a day for hard hitting Hawaiian heavies with four, make that five, titles at Haleiwa and an equal amount of Triple Crowns to match. No question: Sunny Garcia was made for this thing.
“I surfed my first heat ever at this beach in 1978,” said Sunny before his final against Bruce, Phil MacDonald, and Brazilian underdog Bernardo Pigmeu. “Half these guys weren’t even born yet.”
Sunny’s been focusing on this event all year. He left France saying, “Let Andy and those guys duke it out for the title. I’m all about the Triple Crown.” He skipped the Brazil ‘CT event to train. He skipped his son’s football team winning the state championships to surf his opening heats (they won, by the way). And he tore into his waves with a ferocious determination that was palpable even from 150 yards away on the beach. Most of his heats weren’t even close. Five minutes in he usually had it wrapped up. In the Round of 64 he scored a 5 on his way in to change out a buckled board. The rest of the time he scored 7s and 8s. The big beefy rights were a perfect fit for his powerful, intense style.
“All year I watch other guys psyching on their home waves,” said Sunny. “Well this is my home, and these are my waves. I hold it in all year long and when I come home I take it out on the waves.”
Taking it out on the waves. Uh… yeah. A scary thought, but a fitting image for Sunny’s surfing.
On the other hand, Bruce pulled up dead last in the final. Broken board. Zero good waves. Like, whatever. But that’s not to say today wasn’t a success for the younger Irons. Bruce made the final with a solid showing of tactical contest surfing, securing a couple of safety scores before breaking out the flashy stuff and even laying down a some late-heat blocking waves to defend his pole position in his earlier rounds. On top of that, he also produced the best rides of the contest bar none, including his astounding Perfect 10 tube-ride in the Quarters, which he coupled with a pair of 9s. A random polling of the spectators on the beach – children, old ladies, inland yokels, and savvy locals – all produced the same answer on who they wanted to see win the final. “Bruce,” they all said.
From the looks of things, they won’t have to wait long for their wish to come true.
In the meantime, Bruce himself remains more casual. “Whatever happens, happens,” he said before the final.
On the victory stand, Sunny summed up the day pretty well. “I don’t think I was the best surfer out here today,” he said, with his arm around Bruce’s shoulder, “but I got some lucky waves in the final and I’m really stoked to win.”
Both surfers now have a solid foothold on the Triple Crown series, and tonight the Wolf Pak™ has plenty good reason to howl at the moon.