South Africa's Beyrick De Vries, 20, will be riding high for days after living a moment of perfection at Sunset Beach during the Vans World Cup of Surfing today. In a late afternoon heat, on a triple overhead wave, De Vries scored the event's only perfect 10 to date for a huge, deep tube ride that has been tagged the best barrel ever surfed on Sunset's west peak during competition. The surf was absolutely perfect for most of the day, peaking with wave face heights of up to 25 feet and light offshore winds.
Two weeks shy of his 21st birthday, and having invested more than half of his budget to be here, this was a gift that De Vries will long remember. Along with his perfect 10, De Vries also posted a 7.5 for a heat total of 17.5 points out of 20. Worth a mention was Brazil's Peterson Crisanto who was right behind De Vries on 17.03 points.
"It's pretty much a 55 hour travel here on a plane and costs you pretty much half your budget," said De Vries. "Living here is expensive and you kind of doubt it all, but then you get one wave like that and everything's worth it. It's all worth it, I'm stoked.
"I just saw blue out there and it was a heavy take off. I just tried to dodge the foam ball, stood up and looked down the line and I just saw this thing that was perfect. I just stood there and kind of looked at the scenery. It's one of the best places to be on earth, in the barrel. I'm just living in the moment and it paid off and I'm so happy.
"I'm pretty set for a while, I think."
Giant set waves washed through periodically throughout the day and required a fearless and committed approach.
For every memorable ride there was an unforgettable wipeout, the worst of which was sustained by local teenager Kalani David, 16. David's heat was held early in the day during the peak of the swell. Conditions were giant and intimidating to say the least, but he threw it all on the line in a bid to prove his place in the lineup.
David's worst wipeout came after a late takeoff that saw him lose his footing before getting absolutely pummeled by a cascade of water. Local ocean scientist Pat Caldwell, of Honolulu's NOAA office, took a look at imagery of David's wipeout and estimated the volume of the wave above him to be at 180 cubic feet. At 64 pounds of pressure per cubic foot, that equates to more than 11,000 pounds of water unloading on the youngster. While it spelled the end of the road for Kalani in this event, he gained major credibility and can rest easy knowing he never cowered.
"No words can describe how worked you get," said David. "There's no words to describe it. You get tumbled and held under and your back starts to hurt. I'm still breathing hard. I'm dizzy.
"I just took off underneath the lip and my front foot slipped and I never had that happen before. Right when I fell it was like 'no, this isn't about to happen'... I was actually more embarrassed than I was scared because I face planted and my jersey ripped off. So embarrassing.
"Not too many 16-year-olds get to do this contest and just to be in it is an honor - a lot of experience and a lot of getting held under.
"I feel good, I just needed that one wave but I fell. But I'm stoked with how I surfed."
There were so many highlights today: The highest individual heat score went to Kiron Jabour (Hawaii) - 18.33 points out of a possible 20 (9.33, 9.0). Posting waves in the excellent category were Torrey Meister (Hawaii), Ezekiel Lau (Hawaii), Peterson Crisanto (Brazil), Caio Ibelli (Brazil), and Tanner Gudauskas (USA).
Of the 16 heats surfed today, Hawaii surfers accounted for the overwhelming majority of heat wins. Their intimate knowledge and experience with riding Sunset in these conditions was hard to match. Along with Jabour, Meister and Lau, other standout locals included Ian Walsh, Makuakai Rothman and Gavin Gillette.
Organizers anticipate a drop in swell for tomorrow, but expect competition to continue for a third day. Coming up when competition resumes: Kelly Slater (USA); Mick Fanning (Australia); Dane Reynolds (USA); Josh Kerr (Australia); John John Florence (Hawaii); and Adriano De Souza (Brazil).
Round of 96 (1st & 2nd advance; 3rd=65th; 4th=81st)