WQS Herd Is Culled Sunday At The O’Neill World Cup Of Surfing

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Frenchman Miky Picon on his backhand in the Round 96 for a heat win.

The hopes of 13 ASP World Qualifying surfers of making the cut for the elite 2009 ASP World Tour were dashed at Sunset Beach today as they were eliminated from the O’Neill World Cup of Surfing. As the final World Qualifying event on the 2008 ASP World Tour, this was their last hope of securing the ratings points required to make the leap up. Extremely difficult surf in the eight- to 12-foot range (wave face heights of up to 20 feet) made it particularly tough for those under pressure.

The surfers who failed to make the cut today were: Brett Simpson (USA), Jadson Andre (BRA), Wiggolly Dantas (BRA), Raoni Monteiro (BRA), Heitor Alves (BRA), Shaun Cansdell (AUS), Pablo Paulino (BRA), Nathan Yeomans (USA), Leonardo Neves (BRA), Leigh Sedley (AUS), Adam Meilling AUS), Adam Robertson (AUS) and Pedro Henrique (BRA).

Also eliminated today was last week’s Reef Hawaiian Pro champion Michel Bourez (Tahiti) and runner-up Jihad Khodr (Brazil), thus, leaving the door open for Kekoa Bacalso (Hawaii) and Dusty Payne (Hawaii) to take the overall Vans Triple Crown of Surfing lead. Payne and Bacalso will be surfing in the round of 64 when competition resumes.

Still in contention for qualification are: Marlon Lipke (DEU), David Weare (ZAF), Patrick Gudauskas (USA), Phillip MacDonald (AUS), Hizunome Bettero (BRA), Simao Romao (BRA), Shaun Gossman (AUS), Yadin Nicol (AUS), Dion Atkinson (AUS), Rodrigo Dornellas (BRA) and Sunny Garcia (HAW).

Garcia, who was the 2000 ASP World Champ and a six-time Vans Triple Crown champion, needs to make the final and place highly to qualify. The 38-year-old Hawaiian has a great chance considering he has previously won this event twice and has tons of experience at Sunset Beach.

Experience helped Marcus Hickman, 29, gnab the highest heat total of the day, 16.50 out of 20. Hickman also posted the highest scoring wave of the day, an 8.33 out of 10.

Sunset Beach is Hickman’s homebreak and the regular-foot loves the many faces of the tricky wave.

“This is my backyard. This is my favorite area to surf. I love the different looks [Sunset] gives you. It’s like a skate park out there some days. Some days it’s big barrels. Pipeline is one big perfect wave and this is a little bit different because it has so many different looks that’s why I love it out here.

“I put in my time and I know what [Sunset] does when it’s North and what it does when it’s West so I guess that does help out a lot.

“The conditions just change so much. I mean, yesterday in the morning we had two swells. Yesterday, in the afternoon I had one really good West Bowl and today we got North. That’s the beautiful thing about Sunset, it throws so many different things at you, you have to be prepared.”

Like Hickman, South African Jordy Smith, 20, was well prepared for Sunset. The World Championship Tour surfer advanced out of his heat today behind Australian Jarrad Howse, 29. Historically, Smith has always done well at the O’Neill World Cup of Surfing, where he finished runner-up in 2006.

“It was one of my career highlights when I got second out here. [Sunset is] definitely one of my top ten 10 waves. It was the first place in Hawaii I got some real waves.

“I don’t think I got anything less than a quarter [finals finish] out here before. I’ve been waiting for that bad one to come sometime, but hopefully not this event. I’m trying to pace myself, take it heat by heat and trying to make it to the final.”

Smith will be surfing in Heat 9 of the Round of 64 when competition resumes.

Organizers anticipate picking up with the final day of the women’s Roxy Pro tomorrow, if the forecast for 6-8 foot surf holds true. To examine surf updates for the coming days, visit official forecasters Wetsand.com .

For complete results, please visit: www.triplecrownofsurfing.com

The $815,000 Vans Triple Crown of Surfing consists of the
Reef Hawaiian Pro, Haleiwa, Nov. 12-23 (6* WQS, men and women), the O’Neill World Cup of Surfing, Sunset Beach, Nov.24-Dec.6 (6*WQS men), The Roxy Pro, Sunset Beach, Nov.24-Dec.6 (WCT women), the Billabong Pipeline Masters (men), Pipeline, Dec. 8-20 (WCT); and the Billabong Pro Maui (women), Honolua Bay, Maui, Dec. 8-20 (WCT).

In addition to $815,000 in prize money, which includes a $10,000 bonus for both the men’s and women’s Vans Triple Crown champions, the men’s champion will also receive a custom, one-of-a-kind Nixon tide watch featuring over two-carats of diamonds and valued at over $10,000.