Pancho makes it four at the Xcel Pro

Gary Kewley
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Friday - November 14, 2008
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Pancho Sullivan hoists his fourth Xcel Pro trophy

Aloha surfers and beachgoers! Wow, its game-on from the getgo for the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. This series is the big boy of all surf contests, and all you have to do is drive north. Hawaii is getting b-i-g back-to-back swells ... and they’re getting bigger each time. Check this out: the first three swells were about eight feet. The next two ones should hit eight to 12, and the last one could too. This is exactly why the North Shore is so famous: the size and consistency are greater than anywhere in the world. It’s a magnet for the world best surfers ... and they’re here right now. For deeper details check SURFNEWS-NETWORK.COM. Remember you can watch it live online too!

The first jewel is the Reef Hawaiian Pro, contested each year at Haleiwa’s Ali’i Beach Park. They’ve already started this five-day event and have until Nov.23 to finish. No problem this year - it’ll be done fast and furious, in epic conditions.


The rights are a sight to behold when Haleiwa gets six- to eight-feet and up. They peel 50 to 75 yards down the line into a shallow “toilet bowl” section that has a G-narly reef a few feet below. This always allows for an exciting finish to the wave. It also allows high performances we usually don’t witness until the ASP tour comes to town. It’s that hard to surf, even for those with expertise.

When Ali’i breaks 10 feet and up, the take-off area and drop gets tricky with moguls and bumps… and did I mention the current? Surfers must constantly paddle west (to the left) just to fight this notorious rip.

Pancho Sullivan had his way at Sunset in the Xcel Pro

And this is only the beginning of a freight train ride into near oblivion. The wave stands up on the reef as it marches to shore and throws it’s lip down and around the wave warriors. You need to read this wave carefully and race to make it, weaving in and around the critical sections.

I remember one year when I saw Kelly Slater pull a 360 on a near 10-footer, and Andy Irons pull a floater on a similar-sized beast. Most wouldn’t even dream it, let alone do it.

Haleiwa sits in that heavy, yet high performance zone that pros love to challenge and play in. I can’t wait to witness it all.

Plus, this contest is the second-to-last event on the men’s qualifying series known as the WQS (World Qualifying Series). And it’s the last one for women. If they surf well, they can get onto the “dream tour” with all the very best. If they don’t, it’s back to the grind another year.Yikes, the pressure ... especially when Haleiwa is big.

Well, guess who doesn’t need to do the WQS any longer? Guess who could win the Reef Hawaiian Pro and the entire Triple Crown? He just won the Xcel Pro for the fourth time at Sunset and he’s been acclaimed as the world’s most powerful surfer. Not bad for a 35-year-old - 6-foot, 210-pound Pancho Sullivan! What a sweet finish to his short but sweet three-year career on the Fosters ASP World Tour….winning in his own backyard, the 25th annual Xcel Pro.

Pancho keeps winning when the surf means business. But I suppose the more important business of raising a family is his core focus. Hey, I’d be more than stoked to be able to say I was the oldest person to ever get on the top tour of pro surfing (33) and finished seventh in the world during my second year. I’d be honored to be known as the nicest guy on tour as well.

Pancho is a pro in every sense of the word. Well-spoken, good lookin’ and a talent for the tube and detonating lips around the planet. Hawaii is proud of Pancho ... as are his beautiful wife Jaunani, lovely daughter Kirra and handsome son Kanekoa. Congradz and mahalo, Pancho…well done!

But we know you’re not done. See you in the line up! Stoked!

GQ, dropping in 4 U!

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