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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, February 1, 2008

Sullivan barrels through Banzai Pipeline

By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Pancho Sullivan received scores of 8.75 and 8.35 for two long barrel rides in winning his heat with the fourth round's top score of 17.1

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Pancho Sullivan of Sunset Beach has become the monster trialist no one wants to face in the Billabong Monster Energy Pro men's surfing contest.

For the second consecutive day, Sullivan was one of the standouts as the second day of competition was completed yesterday. The third round and half of the fourth round were run in wave-face heights of 4 to 8 feet at the Banzai Pipeline.

Sullivan finished 2007 ranked No. 7 in the world, but he willingly accepted a spot in the first round also known as the trials for this contest. Normally, he would be seeded into the fourth round.

"I was actually kind of stoked to be in the first round," Sullivan said. "Pipeline is so crowded on any given day, the more opportunities you get to surf out here is a treat."

Sullivan advanced through three heats on the opening day of the contest, then dominated his fourth-round heat yesterday.

The other three surfers in his heat were Roy Powers, Rob Machado and Myles Padaca all former winners of North Shore contests in recent years.

"Everyone in that heat was such a high-caliber surfer, you really had to step up your performance," Sullivan said.

He did just that, receiving scores of 8.75 (out of 10) and 8.35 for two long barrel rides. His total of 17.1 was the best score of the fourth round.

"Having surfed out here since I was 12 years old, I know on days like this if you get going right off the bat, sometimes you can backdoor little sections," said Sullivan, 34. "If you get your speed going, you can power through some of those little barrels."

Sullivan is now the highest-ranked surfer remaining in the contest.

Kaua'i's Andy Irons, who was No. 6 in 2007, was upset in his fourth-round heat yesterday. Irons received a bye into the fourth round, but could not find any quality waves and was eliminated with a score of just 2.5.

Kaua'i's Powers advanced through the same heat with Sullivan (the top two from each four-man heat advance).

"I was surprised how hard a heat that was for a (fourth) round," Powers said. "Even if you don't surf a hard heat in the beginning, you're going to eventually have to surf against the best guys, so you might as well start getting through it early."

The top Hawai'i finishers will earn invitations to the prestigious Billabong Pipeline Masters contest in December.

"That's why I'm here," Maui's Ola Eleogram said. "I want to do good in this contest and get into the Pipe Masters."

Among other standouts from Hawai'i yesterday were Joel Centeio, Love Hodel, Evan Valiere, Kekoa Bacalso and Kawika Stillwell. Two perfect 10s were awarded one to Stillwell and one to Florida's Devon Tresher.

The contest still has one more day of competition. For daily status of the contest, call 596-7873 or visit www.billabongpro.com.

Reach Dayton Morinaga at dmorinaga@honoluluadvertiser.com.