(Honolulu, HAWAII) In what will go down as one of the best days of waves and competition in the history of the Vans Hawaiian Pro, Hawaii’s Sunny Garcia claimed his fourth Hawaiian Pro title at Haleiwa today, taking an early lead on the overall Vans Triple Crown of Surfing series ratings. Garcia, who previously won this event in 1992, 1993, and 2000, led the 35-minute final from start to finish to defeat Tom Whitaker (Australia), Jake Paterson (Australia) and defending Vans Hawaiian Pro champion Andy Irons (Hawaii). Garcia, 32, is a five-time Vans Triple Crown Series champion and has his eye set on a sixth title. His win earned him $10,000.
Waves ranged from 12 to occasional 20-foot face heights today and the quarter final heats produced the highest scores of the event. Despite losing in semi-final one to Paterson and Irons, six-time world champion Kelly Slater posted a near-perfect heat score in the quarters – 19.73 points out of 20, with a couple of impossibly long tube-rides and giant top-to-bottom turns (10.0 and 9.73 point rides). Similarly, current world number one Irons had a crowd-filled beach fixated with his combination of powering round-house re-entries and vertical turns.
But ultimately, the day belonged to Garcia. Overcoming a two-month old knee injury that sees him competing with torn ligaments, lower back cramps and a minor gash to the head he sustained in the quarter finals after a collision with his surfboard, the pain was all but forgotten by the conclusion of the event. Overall scores for the final had Garcia on 15.5, Whitaker with 12.6, 10.73 for Paterson, and 10.6 for Irons.
“I was fortunate to get two good waves right at the beginning of the final and then the waves got bumpy and the scores kind of dropped,” said Garcia. “My first wave was a deep barrel and that got me going.
“I’m almost speechless. It feels insane to win a fourth time here. I’ve been surfing here since 1979 and it really is one of the best waves on the North Shore.