Tuesday, September 16, 2014 596-SURF , 596-WAVE , 922-BONG , 638-RUSH , 572-SURF(MAUI) , 241-SURF (KAUAI) , 324-RUSH (BIG ISLAND)
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Saturday surfer profile - Catching up with Sunny Garcia

Sunny Garcia will not likely be a politician, military strategist or President of the United States. But every word of our late great presidents quote above leads to emphasize that this Waianae bred surf icon is every bit the warrior- and lives and dies for what his gut tells him. Dubbed "Sunny" for a happy disposition as a keiki, Vincent Sennen Garcia was born January 14, 1970. Now even at age 44 I'd say his mom got it right. For those close to Garcia he is as an affectionate, fun loving friend as they come. Even a bit of a jokester at times, Garcia is genuinely happy with the simple things. Media and lore have painted a somewhat skewed version of Sunny as a darker and angry soul at times. But this writer and friend knows otherwise.

The six-time Triple Crown Champion doesn't live without controversy and challenge. Garcia hates to lose, but he's not a poor sport. The Hawaiian simply does not appreciate disrespect. His road to ASP World Championship in 2000 is wobbled with dips and valleys that would rival even the most intense subjects of True Hollywood Stories. At age 16 Garcia self-started, dropped high school and proceeded to live up to his uber-famous statement and life decree " I m gonna whoop some Top 16 ass." And indeed he did. A rush of fame and more money than he 'd ever juggled before the classic "fast lane" bumps came into play. Though simply stoked on surfing and easy around his friends, Garcia had something to prove.

Learning the hard way about ASP fines, love and marriage, taxes and jail time, Garcia earned a "don't mess with me" reputation and was never shy to tell the judges or administration exactly what was on his mind. From child stardom to adult prison time for tax evasion, Garcia still lives one day at a time. En route Garcia holds the record for most WQS event wins, 22, and holds more Triple Crown of Surfing titles than any other surfer in history. He is the most victorious surfer in Hawaii.

Initially retired in 2005, Garcia can't help himself. In classic power form Garcia nabbed a solid third place showing in the Quiksilver Big Wave event in Memory of Eddie Aikau. He is now competing again on the ASP in select events. With two back-to-back ISA Grand Masters Gold Medal Victories, Garcia inspired many by also winning the ASP 4-Star HIC Pro at Sunset Beach last winter.

Being judged: I don't know. It is what it is. No one ever sees all the guys that I've saved in Hawaii. They only seen the guys that I've got into hassles with. All the Australians, all the Brazilians for that matter that aren't my friends that they could have got beaten up and sent home, but ya know I went over and smoothed everything out. No one ever hears about those stories, but I'm the "bad guy" and I "deserve to be in jail." Sometimes that really wears on me. In the long run I know a lot of people love me, my family loves me, my friends love me, and all those people that I've helped over the years really appreciate all the help that I've given them and for me, that's all that really matters.

Positive/negative feedback: You read all the things, and I go on there every now and then. There are some real lowlife people in this world. Like seriously. I went to prison for taxes. And I had people writing me stuff on those things just like, "You're a criminal" and "You deserve to be in jail." Like come on, you act like I raped your daughter or something. Seriously, I went to prison for taxes.

Being from Hawaii: I would say one thing good about being from Hawaii is, ya know, through all the ups and downs that I've had through my career, never has Hawaii made me feel ... not wanted. When I was in prison I got letters everyday, just wishing me well, just encouraging me to come out and do good things. Hawaii is just a great place. You can do wrong and be forgiven it seems like. Or at least for me it seemed that way.

Serving time: I went to jail for taxes. Basically in the long run, I'm responsible for overseeing all the choices that my CPA makes and I have to live with that. But I'm not a CPA and I don't know how to file taxes, so for me to file wrongly is virtually impossible. I might have signed something after the CPA got everything ready but whatevers -- I'll take that blame. It's funny you know, I say this, prison was like a vacation for me. Took some time off of my life to concentrate on me. No cell phones, no agents, no sponsors, nothing. Got up everyday, I did my job. I wouldn't say I was a happy person in prison, not at all. I was pissed. Pissed that I was there pissed that everything that had happened to me happened to me. I went to jail, I had lost my wife, my life, I mean, it all crumbled down. Fortunately for me I had friends there. When I got there, the guys that I knew knew I was coming. They had running shoes for me. Ran everyday, I swear I must have done 20 miles a day. I had a good cot, I had a good pillow. The only thing I didn't have when I got to prison was a jacket. And when I got there it was the middle of January and I swear it was like, the mornings were like 16 degrees or something. So it was freezing. Overall it was a good experience. I wasn't happy to be there, but I'm happy that it happened. A reset. Yeah, it gave me a whole different outlook on life. Bad habits die hard. No matter what happens to you in your life you might want to change, eventually you kind of always go back to who you really are. For me it just made me appreciate life a little better. Not to say that I wasn't appreciating everything that I had, but you know being on tour at a young age, making a lot of money you get jaded. And being at the top of the sport for so long, you don't notice all the little things that are going on around you that are so great. You don't realize how good you have it until they take it all away from you.


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