Surviving big Sunset for the World Cup

Gary Kewley
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Friday - December 07, 2007
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Sunny Garcia
Sunny Garcia takes a heavy vertical drop on big Sunset in the O’Neill World Cup on Monday

Welcome to December, surfers! Warning-level waves continue to pound the country ... and make it difficult for grabbing smaller days for the Vans Triple Crown. Only in Hawaii is this a “problem.“Most Foster’s World Tour spots pray for big enough surf. We’re hoping for small enough - insane. Hawaii’s blessings of nature are confirmed nearly every year. This is truly a seven-mile miracle ... the ultimate surfing challenge.

As of this writing, we didn’t yet have an O’Neill World Cup champ, but being as the last day of the holding period is Thursday, Dec. 6, we do now! Check out the fresh details at or And, as always, call the Vans and SNN hot-lines for contest status: 596-SURF, 638-RUSH.

One thing’s for sure, this was the most difficult Sunset Beach in contest history. Surfers had to deal with two days of raw, maxed-out, closed-out Sunset. Outer reefs would break miles out before steamrolling the entire huge lineup. Even the caddies and jet skis were in danger. Once the competition ended Monday at 12:15 p.m., lifeguards promptly closed the beach ... sealed off to save lives. This was about survival, according to the pros, who had no choice but to face off against Sunset. The place can drown you at 8 feet, let alone twice that big. Thank God no one was seriously hurt.

One thing I heard over and over again was how deceiving it looked from the beach or the live webcast. But it’s exponentially harder once you’re out there. Sunset’s quality actually deteriorates above 12 feet and leaves too much to chance for competitors. The waves at 15 feet move all over the place; often it’s just the luck of being in the right place at the right time. The opposite is also true - being in the wrong place at the wrong time. These waves could have drowned 10 out of 100 intermediate surfers. You see, the pros are also pros at saving their own tails.

My appreciation for Randy Rarick, Bernie Baker and the judges grew as I witnessed their excruciating decision-making process. There’s an art and science to this thing called “making the call.” To get the best three or four days of surf out of two weeks in a year like this is profoundly difficult. But as I add up all the days (it’s my job to observe first and then report), I can tell you that they make the best calls. They are professionals.

This Sunday the men slide down the beach a couple of miles for the Billabong Pipeline Masters - the third and final Jewel of the 25th annual Vans Triple Crown.

The women hop a plane over to Honolua Bay for the Billabong Pro Maui. They have till Dec 20. The women will crown the World and Triple Crown titles, and the men claim their Triple Crown and Pipe Master. Australian Mick Fanning attained his first men’s world title two tour events ago ...

This Saturday, come on down at 8:30 a.m. to show support for the “Free Beach Access/No Parking Fees Rally/March”! The march is along Ala Moana Boulevard from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. There’ll be refreshments, guest speakers, picture-taking and music. Meet at Bowls/Kaiser parking lot, McCoy Pavilion or Magic Island. The core question is: Do you want to pay $$$ to surf, paddle, swim, fish or just hang loose with family and friends? For more, please, please e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Hey, the man, the myth, the legend ... Woody Brown has a one-hour PBS Hawaii presentation Dec. 11 called Of Wind and Waves. This 94-year-old ocean pioneer is truly a Hawaiian treasure. Don’t miss it.

Don’t miss being here next week either!

Aloha and mahalo, GQ, dropping in 4 U!


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