Padaca takes pupil to school
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
Another day at the office turned into a surfing victory and a $2,500 paycheck for Myles Padaca.
Such is life when your work station happens to be Sunset Beach.
Padaca won the inaugural Da Hui/Sponsor Me Sunset Open men's contest yesterday. The final day of the two-day event was run in clean wave-face heights of 10 to 20 feet.
Padaca is a veteran professional surfer, but his primary job now is as a surfing instructor for Progressive Surfing. He and fellow pro surfer Pancho Sullivan train young surfers on O'ahu's North Shore.
"I consider this our office," said Padaca, 38. "We try to train these guys and school them in the lineups from Hale'iwa to Pipeline to Sunset."
Padaca proved that the teacher still knows more than the students when it comes to surfing the tricky waves at Sunset Beach.
Three students from Progressive Surfing — Kekoa Cazimero, John John Florence and Alex Smith — made it to at least the semifinals.
Smith, 19, finished in second place in the final, a half-point behind Padaca.
"There's always a few tricks left," Padaca said with a grin, when asked about devising a strategy against his own students.
In the 30-minute final, Padaca's game plan worked to perfection. He established his experience early, catching several waves away from the other finalists.
"That's pretty much my plan was to go out there and catch a couple waves early and rattle my competitors because they're younger," Padaca said. "Put the pressure on them."
Padaca never lost the lead, and Smith was the only surfer to make a late charge.
Smith actually had the best ride of the final — an 8.5 out of 10 for a series of nice slashes on a big wave — but he could never find a solid second wave.
Each surfer's two best waves counted toward the final score. Padaca caught a total of seven waves, and his best two finished with a total of 11.5. Smith caught three waves, and his best two scored 11.0.
"I didn't get that good one until there was like eight minutes left," Smith said. "I knew I needed another wave after that, but then I got caught inside. I was trying to get out there for one more, but I couldn't make it in time."
Smith, who is from Kaua'i, received $1,000 for second place.
"I'm really satisfied," he said. "It's crazy. I never surf out here when it's like this, so I was stoked just to make it through a couple of heats."
Padaca has a history of success on O'ahu's North Shore, including the Triple Crown of Surfing championship in 2001.
He and Sullivan started Progressive Surfing last year.
"Rather than retire grumpy, we have a chance to share our knowledge with the next generation," Padaca said. "But I'm also motivated because I'm surfing more. I'm surfing two to three times a day with these kids."
Jonah Morgan of the Big Island and Billy Kemper of Maui were standouts early in the day, but got caught in the lulls during the final. Morgan caught just one wave in the final and placed third; Kemper got two waves and finished fourth.
The contest was the first event of the Association of Surfing Professionals 2010 Hawai'i season. The top surfers from the ASP Hawai'i rankings will earn spots in the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing series at the end of the year.
1, Myles Padaca. 2, Alex Smith. 3, Jonah Morgan. 4, Billy Kemper. 5 (tie), Pancho Sullivan and John John Florence. 7 (tie), Love Hodel and Kekoa Cazimero. 9 (tie), Gavin Beschen, Sunny Garcia, Gavin Gillette and Solomon Ortiz. 13 (tie), Fred Patacchia Jr., Tyler Newton, Daniel Jones and Dylan Melamed.