Heartbreak at Pipeline

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Sunny Garcia misses heat on Day 1

By Stuart Cornuelle

Jobs not to be 10 minutes late for:

Sunny Garcia

Torrey Meister arrived at Pipeline in the dark this morning. Tired. He’d surfed into the semis of the O’Neill World Cup in big, unruly surf a week earlier. Then he’d gotten up at 4:00 a.m. to jet over to Maui and tow-surf Jaws with Mike Parsons and Laurie Towner. As the swell dropped, it became clear that the Billabong Pipe Masters would begin Thursday, and Torrey — as first alternate — had to be ready to paddle out at a moment’s notice.

He hadn’t surfed Pipeline once all season, missing the only good days for WQS events in California and Vancouver Island. He hadn’t eaten anything. Sitting in the competitors’ area, ready to patiently await a dropout for days if necessary, Torrey actually began to doze off.

Until about a quarter after ten. Sunny Garcia was supposed to be surfing against Nic Muscroft in Heat 8, but Sunny hadn’t showed. Torrey was on. He grabbed his jersey and rushed out to join Muscroft in the lineup, who had already begun catching waves. Then Sunny arrived on the beach, ready to surf. Late to work. Mere minutes late, but his tardiness wouldn’t be excused.

The contest had kicked off running the dual heat format, meaning the contest was progressing 50% faster than normal, and Sunny had missed his chance. Torrey had already caught a 4.87, which he’d soon throw out in favor of two 8’s, bludgeoning Nic Muscroft out of the event with a 16.83 heat total. But the real drama was on the beach at the competitors’ tent.

Sunny was told he wouldn’t be surfing; he disagreed. He made a move to grab a jersey and paddle out, but Triple Crown Director Randy Rarick grabbed it too. Rules are rules. A mild singlet tug-of-war ensued, but to no avail — Sunny was out. Kauai’s Evan Valiere offered to give up the next alternate spot, so that Sunny would still have a chance to get in, but no other surfers withdrew from Round 1. And that was it. Tragedy.