The surf today was very challenging because of the 10-25 mph easterly winds, which made the takeoffs more difficult than a quantum physics class. Yet, like true professionals, the contestants were carving Sunset’s faces with surgeon like precision. The high scores were given for a tube or big opening maneuver at the takeoff, followed by a flurry of snaps into Sunset’s inside section.
Surfing well throughout the entire comp was seasoned competitor Rainos Hayes, who clawed his way out of the first round. Throughout the entire comp, the Hawaiian surfer made strong moves, winning all of his heats up to the quarter finals where Kaua’i boy Gavin Gillette and Maui charger Ian Walsh put a stop to Rainos’ run.
Walsh would advance past the semi final, with fellow Mauian Hank Gaskell, after they both beat Gillette and Aussie Matt Thompson with high scoring, long rides into the inside.
In the second semi final, Sunset locals Raymond Reichle and Nathan Carroll met veteran Sunset surfers Pancho Sullivan and Myles Padaca in the most stacked heat of the comp.
When most of the crowd put their money on the three time XCEL Pro champ Sullivan and the former Triple Crown champ Padaca, the young boys from Sunset spoiled the odds. Reichle and Carroll out surfed the two older competitors with lengthy, high performance waves, despite Pancho having the highest two-wave total of the contest, 17.25, in round 4.
Between the semis and finals, the $2,000 Lei Lei’s Longboard Expression Session featured the world’s most progressive longboarders in an exhibition of high-performance longboarding in big surf. Kekoa Uemura, Kai Sallas, Keegan Edwards, Ned Snow, Lance Ho’okano, Dino Miranda, and Bonga Perkins negotiated Sunset’s tricky lineup with their 9 foot plus sticks. Big floaters and off the lips replaced nose rides and helicopters during the Expression Session. And, when the 35 minute heat concluded it was the lone goofy foot, Kekoa Uemura who edged out the competition.
1st – Ian Walsh – $7,000
2nd – Hank Gaskell HAW – $3,500
3rd – Raymond Reichle – $2,500
4th – Nathan Carroll – $2,000