Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, October 31, 2002

Sunset a big treat for Xcel Pro meet

By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer

One day before Halloween, Sunset Beach was offering tricks and treats for surfers during the 19th annual Xcel Pro.

Australian Paul Paterson won his third-round heat in the Xcel Pro at Sunset Beach.

Bernie Baker • Special to the Advertiser

The contest is considered the kickoff for the famous North Shore big-wave season, and Sunset Beach did not disappoint yesterday, offering waves that ranged from 8 to 12 feet.

The second round and most of the third round were completed yesterday. One more full day of competition is needed to determine a champion. Contest officials have until Nov. 10 to run the final day.

"Sunset (Beach) is a hit-or-miss wave," said defending Xcel Pro champion Gavin Beschen. "You just have to make sure you don't miss too many."

Indeed, there were equal amounts of spectacular rides and horrific wipeouts yesterday.

Ross Williams of Hale'iwa posted the top score of the third round — 16.5 (out of a possible 20) for his two best rides. On his best wave, he received a score of 9.0 for riding through one of the rare barreling waves to appear yesterday.

"I kind of gambled on it," he said. "Sometimes, the wave here will cover you up real nice. Other times, it'll just slam down in front of you. Luckily, that one stayed open for me."

The Xcel Pro is part of surfing's World Qualifying Series (WQS), which helps surfers earn spots on the following year's elite World Championship Tour.

Williams entered several WQS contests around the world this year, and said the Xcel Pro was the only one with "real waves."

"Every place else had 1-foot waves," he said. "It's hard to get motivated for that. So to come home to waves like this is something I really want to take advantage of."

Most of yesterday's other standouts were the Hawai'i surfers: Kalani Robb, Myles Padaca, Mikala Jones, Pancho Sullivan, Marcus Hickman, Tory Barron and Kalani Chapman all earned impressive third-round victories.

Chapman beat Beschen in the third round, but both advanced (in each four-man heat, the top two surfers advance). Beschen miscalculated the time of the heat, and started paddling toward the beach with five minutes remaining.

"It's one of those days where I feel relieved just to make it through," Beschen said. "I just have to make sure not to make any mistakes again. The surfers in this contest are just too good, and I'm probably not going to get lucky like that again."

There were some surprising performers, including unseeded Doug Silva of Diamond Head.

Silva owns a clothing company that markets mostly in Japan. He said surfing is "more of a hobby" for him and he rarely surfs in big waves.

Still, he won his third-round heat with impressive rides of 8.5 and 7.0.

"My friends are big-wave riders and the only time I surf big waves is when they drag me out there," Silva said. "I don't know if I could have expected to get this far (in the contest), so I'm just going out to have fun."

Other standouts included Australians Matt Thompson and Paul Paterson.