Sunny Garcia Means Business at the 2010 Drug Aware Pro at Margaret River
Hawaiia's Sunny Garcia provided most of the spectator excitement on the opening day of the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) six-star Prime rated Drug Aware Pro presented by Rusty at Margaret River today.
The 2000 ASP world champion was called an interference mid-way through his opening round heat following a wave altercation with Canary Island surfer Jonathon Gonzales.
The interference call resulted in Garcia being penalised with a deduction of half of his points on his second scoring ride and saw him slip from 2nd to 4th mid-way through the heat.
Clearly angry, the Hawaiian who has found more than his share of controversy during his esteemed career, aggressively surfed through the remainder of the heat and that anger appeared to bring out his best with a strong late ride that moved him from 4th to 1st position and through to the round of 96.
In no mood for a post heat interview, Garcia left the contest site to regroup for his next heat!
That was the second last heat of the day which began in very good clean 1.5 to 2m (four-to-six feet) surf.
Early stand-outs included Nathan Hedge (AUS), the day's top scoring surfer with a heat tally of 14.67 along with fellow former ASP World Tour surfer and local Jake Paterson who also won through with an impressive combined two wave heat tally of 13.17.
"I love surfing here at Margaret River" said an enthusiastic Hedge after his heat.
"It's always good to get that first heat out of the way and I'm hearing there's excellent solid waves ahead and that will suit me just fine."
This year's Drug Aware Pro clearly highlights the alterations to the new ASP one world rating system and elevated status associated to 6-star prime events.
With 31 of the world's top surfers in the field including the top five rated surfers in the world, the heats are stacked with talent and the high seeded round begins when the next round of the Men's division hits the water which sees local hero and current number one world rated surfer Taj Burrow in the opening heat.
The opening rounds of the Women's division of the Drug Aware Pro are expected to surf tomorrow with men on stand-by however there is a strong chance of Burrow's heat entering the water Wednesday morning.
An excellent swell outlook through most of the week has contest director Mike McAuliffe keen to see this year's quality field getting the best of the conditions ahead.
"Wednesday should be excellent with solid new swell and ideal winds and Friday through to Sunday also looks excellent and big at times so at this stage it's looking really promising and with such an outstanding field we're in for a great event."
The final heat of the day saw Victorian pair Adam Robertson and Jack Perry defeat Spain's Hodei Collazo and USA's Matt Mohagen to both advance.
"We've both travelled overnight from the last event at Newcastle yesterday and were feeling travel weary so it's a relief to advance through that heat" said Robertson.
"With big surf approaching it would have been so disappointing for either of us to lose out in our opening heat but we're through and we'll rest up and be fully ready for hopefully some great waves in the coming days."
Organizers will convene early tomorrow to make a call on the day's proceedings around 7:00am Western Australia time line.