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Sunset Beach – The great leveler.
Vans World Cup of Surfing

Sunset Beach – The great leveler.

Dec 02, 2016

By Brad Bricknell

Sunset is hard enough to figure out over a lifetime of winters, let alone over a period of three or four days in 30-minute spurts.   But that’s what it takes to win an event out there - mastering the shifting beast consistently over a few days.  And a bit like golf, you can nail it one round and be a complete goner the next.

We’ve seen a few examples of this already play out on the first day of the 2016 Vans World Cup.  Jack Robinson made a name for himself on the North Shore last year with a semi-final placing at the same event – granted it was in better waves than we saw in round 1, but Sunset has no favorites and the young rookie might have a frustrating weekend watching the event unfold in decent waves at one of his favorite places. He has been out there every time it’s broken over the past 3 weeks and been a standout most sessions; and that will only make the sting a little worse.

Jack Robinson had a shock Round 1 exit after being a standout performer at Sunset in the past 2 years. Photo: WSL / Cestari

Sunset has been responsible for many stories over the years, some good and some bad.  One that’s unfolded through the winter so far is the roller coaster ride that Tomas Hermes is currently taking.  Riding the bubble into the Sunset event, and with a touch of momentum on his side, it seemed Tomas was destined to bring that momentum into Sunset and grab a spot on next year’s elite tour.  

Brazillian Thomas Hermes overcame injury to compete in this years Vans World Cup of Surfing but could not progress through his round 2 heat. Photo: Sloane/WSL

But in a cruel twist of fate, an injury while free surfing at Rocky Point almost sent him home.  He surprised himself, and certainly most others when his name still appeared in the heat draw.  There was still hope for Tomas.  But Sunset did what Sunset does, and Hermes found himself on the wrong side of the rhythm in his round 2 heat and now his fate, and indeed his 2016/17 story is now left in the hands of the others still in the draw.

After a string of lay days and a small round one – there is a solid swell due from Friday, and one gets the sense that the script for this years event (and the 2017 World Championship Tour roster) is still far from being completed.  There have been stories of monumental ascensions up the ratings, surfers literally coming back from the dead at this venue – think Dusty Payne and Sebastien Ziets.  

And while Sunset is the great leveler, it’s also the provider of great opportunity for those who can read her ever-changing moods.  There are more than a handful of surfers who can mathematically realize their dream here over the next few days.  As the swell fills in and tapers off again, there will be questions on board size, fin size, wave size, heats scores and qualification calculations.  And those who ride the lightening all the way to the final day, navigating west peaks and inside bowls will know they have been in a scrap with one of Hawaii’s heavy weights.

It’s the last throw of the dice for many, and not everyone will walk away winners – but everyone will have their story of Sunset.  She’s a great leveler and because of that, there’s and undeniable feeling going around that anything is possible.  

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