THE Reef Hawaiian Pro finally got underway in head-high surf after nine days of waiting. The Reef Hawaiian Pro is the first stop of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, presented by Rockstar Energy Drink, at Haleiwa on Oahu's North Shore.
Event standout Jack Freestone opted to sit on the fickle break known as 'Peaks' - an inconsistent but high-performance right-hander to the north of the main Haleiwa break. With heats reduced from 30 minutes to 20 to ensure the event can finish by Wednesday - the final day of the waiting period, Freestone gambled on separating himself from the 4-man pack. It paid off; the young Australian found several long rights that allowed him to take flight with some of the best aerials of the day. His top two wave scores were 8.83 and 6.83.
"I sat on the little rights at Peaks and it sort of went my way, no-one came over to hassle me," Freestone said. "I've been doing a little bit of training with (6-time Vans Triple Crown champion) Sunny Garcia and he's sorta giving me the insight to all the places, so big thanks to him. It's been amazing.
"Every event there's going to be aerials, it's more exciting, it's progressive and I guess that's what the judges want to see."
With the Hawaiian Air Show award offering 250,000 Hawaiian Miles to the best aerial of the Vans Triple Crown, airs were at the top of every surfer's list today.
Basque surfer Hodei Collazo posted a major upset when he eliminated Haleiwa local and 2009 Reef Hawaiian Pro champion Joel Centeio (Hawaii) in the round of 96. Collazo got super busy in the lineup, determined to get the best waves on offer in the heat.
"I got lucky in the beginning," said Collazo. "I got a 7.33 on my first wave, so after that I was more relaxed. I knew the other guys needed more big scores. It's good to have good results in Hawaii. It's one of those places where normally you're surfing bigger boards. These contests are more special than the others on the tour."
Santa Cruz's Nat Young, 20, was another stand-out today. The Reef Hawaiian Pro, and the Vans World Cup at Sunset Beach are critical events for the Californian who is hoping to qualify for the ASP World Tour's elite ranks next year.
"(The Vans Triple Crown) is pretty much the biggest surf contest in the world," said Young. "Everybody's here doing it, so to do good here is a real confidence boost. It's a really important contest. As of now this could count for qualifying halfway through next year, so that's real big and it would be awesome to get a good result here."
Kauai's Roy Powers, the 2007 Reef Hawaiian Pro champion, posted a convincing win in his opening heat today but will be the center of attention for a different reason tomorrow: He has drawn female wildcard and ASP women's world champion Carissa Moore. Also drawn in that heat are Cory Lopez (Florida) and Maui teenager Ian Gentil.
Round of 128
HEAT 1: Jesse Merle-Jones (HAW) 10.50pts ; Tyler Newton (HAW) 9.33pts ; Gony Zubizarreta (ESP) 4.10pts ; Jeronimo Vargas (BRA) 2.53pts
HEAT 2 : Hodei Collazo (EUK) 12.60pts ; Kevin Sullivan (HAW) 9.67pts ; Billy Kemper (HAW) 8.00pts ; Marcus Hickman (HAW) 7.33pts
HEAT 3 : Maxime Huscenot (FRA) 12.57pts ; Dylan Goodale (HAW) 10.60pts ; Alex Smith (HAW) 8.04pts ; Gabriel Villaran (PER) 4.74pts
HEAT 4 : Keanu Asing (HAW) 14.06pts ; Adrien Toyon (REU) 12.13pts ; Austin Ware (USA) 10.06pts ; Chris Foster (HAW) 7.86pts
HEAT 5 : Dege O'Connell (HAW) 12.33pts ; Sebastien Zietz (HAW) 9.60pts ; Brian Toth (PRI) 9.07pts ; Flynn Novak (HAW) 8.00pts
HEAT 6 : Evan Valiere (HAW) 14.60pts ; Davey Cathels (AUS) 10.57pts ; Rudy Palboom (ZAF) 9.83pts ; Kamalei Alexander (HAW) 6.17pts
HEAT 7 : Jano Belo (BRA) 13.40pts ; Love Hodel (HAW) 9.67pts ; Sunny Garcia (HAW) 9.40pts ; Dale Staples(ZAF) 3.63pts
HEAT 8 : Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) 12.16pts ; Charles Martin (GLP) 11.56pts ; Pancho Sullivan (HAW) 9.86pts ; Solomon Ortiz (HAW) 8.27pts
HEAT 9 : Yuri Sodre (BRA) 10.33pts ; Jamie O'Brien (HAW) 8.23pts ; Jason Shibata (HAW) 8.04pts ; Tonino Benson (HAW) 8.03pts
HEAT 10 : Joan Duru (FRA) 14.23pts ; Luke Davis (USA) 9.87pts ; Makai McNamara (HAW) 8.63pts ; Luke Stedman (AUS)7.90pts
HEAT 11 : Torrey Meister (HAW)11.50pts ; TJ Barron (HAW) 10.23pts ; Liam McNamara (HAW) 9.34pts ; Gavin Gillette (HAW) 4.23pts
HEAT 12 : Vincent Duvignac (FRA) 12.33pts ; Tanner Hendrickson (HAW) 11.53pts ; Tim Reyes (USA) 10.20pts ; Olamana Eleogram (HAW)10.07pts
HEAT 13 : Jack Freestone (AUS) 15.66pts ; Ian Gentil (HAW) 10.90pts ; Jack Perry (AUS) 9.57pts ; Ricardo Santos (BRA) 7.24pts
HEAT 14 : Roy Powers (HAW) 14.44 ; Shaun Cansdell (AUS) 13.60pts ; Albee Layer (HAW) 9.00pts ; Ian Walsh (HAW) 9.00
HEAT 15 : Perth Standlick (AUS) 11.83pts ; Eric Geiselman (USA) 11.67pts ; Matt Pagan (USA) 8.64pts ; Myles Padaca (HAW) 6.97pts
HEAT 16 : Casey Brown ((HAW) 14.57pts ; Nathaniel Curran (USA) 11.30pts Makuakai Rothman (HAW) ; Caio Ibelli (BRA) 9.30pts
Round of 96
HEAT 1 : Evan Geiselman (USA) 14.83pts ; Heath Joske (AUS) 9. ; Kevin Sullivan (HAW) 9.43pts ; Jesse Merle-Jones (HAW) 5.03pts
HEAT 2 : Hodei Collazo (EUK)11.16pts ; Kai Barger (HAW) 10.53pts ; Joel Centeio (HAW) 6.34pts ; Tyler Newton (HAW) 1.12pts
HEAT 3 : Adrien Toyon (REU) 12.67pts ; Maxime (FRA) 11.30 ; Brent Dorrington (AUS)10.57pts ; Dane Gudauskas (USA)10.40pts
HEAT 4 : Nat Young (USA) 14. ; Tomas Hermes (BRA) 11.87pts ; Keanu Asing (HAW) 10.93pts ; Dylan Goodale (HAW) 5.54pts
HEAT 5 : Glenn Hall (IRL) 12.93pts ; Davey Cathels (AUS) 11.76pts ; Nic Muscroft (AUS) 10.00pts ; Dege O'Connell (HAW) 8.33pts
HEAT 6 : Sebastien Zietz (HAW) 14.50pts ; Stu Kennedy (AUS) 10.87pts ; Junior Faria (BRA) 10.80pts ; Evan Valiere (HAW) 8.70pts
HEAT 7 : Nathan Yeomans (USA) 15.00pts ; Mason Ho (HAW) 13.27pts ; Jano Belo (BRA) 11.53pts ; Charles Martin (GLP) 9.00pts
HEAT 8 : Leonardo Neves (BRA) 13.20pts ; Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) 12.83pts ; Alain Riou (PYF) 10.67pts ; Love Hodel (HAW) 1.87pts