11 November, 2012 - - Honolulu - North Shore surfing legend Sunny Garcia has won the HIC Pro at Sunset Beach, replicating a win he enjoyed here 20 years ago in the early stages of his storied career. Today he accepted the victory while holding his baby grandson, who shares his name. Garcia says his win today is the perfect primer to launch his bid for a 7th series title at the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, which starts on Monday.
Garcia is the reigning ISA World Masters champion; the record-setting 6X Vans Triple Crown of Surfing (VTCS) champion; and a former ASP World Champion with 22 major titles to his name. Today's victory earned him $15,000; the 2012 ASP Hawaii Regional Champion's title; and a coveted Round of 64 wildcard into the first two events of the VTCS.
Moments after stepping foot on the sand he thanked his fans for supporting him all these years and helping him to live the dream. "I want to thank all of you out there who have supported me and continue to support surfing," said Garcia. "It's because of you that I've been able to live the dream for so long".
"For an aging athlete that's so used to being at the top and winning, it really is hard when you get old and you see all these young guys doing good and kicking your butt... I'm just glad I still get to compete against these young guys and beat them every now and then."
Garcia and runner-up Granger Larsen (Maui) surfed through five intense rounds of competition today in overhead waves. Running out of steam, Garcia knew he'd have to strike early in the final and his plan unfolded perfectly. He caught the first wave of the heat and racked up two huge hacking turns for an 8.5. A second score of 6.33 at the 8-minute mark sealed the deal and he never looked back.
"In the quarters I was dying ... I wanted to quit and (caddy Billy Kemper) was just screaming 'c'mon paddle!' And I'm like, 'I have no more gas!' In the semis he was in the channel yelling 'c'mon you got this!', and I'm like 'what are you screaming about?! I'm doing everything you're telling me!' (laughs).
"This is the one time of year I feel like I can come home and win the Triple Crown. The day I don't feel I can win the Triple Crown, is the day I'm going to stop. For now I feel like the waves are big and I feel like there are very few people that can compete with me if I get good waves. I feel good. I feel really, really good right now."
Larsen, 22, was locked in a battle for second with Honolulu civil engineer and occasional competitor Gregg Nakamura and eventually got it in the closing minutes of the heat.
Nakamura's result was nothing short of inspirational. A relative "nobody" on the pro surfing scene, he surfed through nine rounds this week and went from an obscurity to a local hero. "To be in the final with Sunny and Fred was amazing," said Gregg. "Who would have imagined?"
Fourth-placed Fred Patacchia had a wave-starved experience in the final and could offer little more than a head shake and a laugh as he returned to the beach.
The attention of the surfing world now turns to the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing hydrated by vitaminwater. Monday, November 12, is the first official day of the series that will run all the way through December 20.
1st - Sunny Garcia (HAW) - $15,000 - 14.83 (8.5, 6.33)
2nd - Granger Larsen (HAW) - $7,500 - 12.5 (7.17, 5.33)
3rd - Gregg Nakamura (HAW) - $5,000 -11.74 (6.57, 5.17)
4th - Fred Patacchia (HAW) - $3,500 - 7.33 (4.0, 3.33)
H1: Gregg Nakamura; Fred Patacchia; Torrey Meister; Lincoln Taylor
H2: Sunny Garcia; Granger Larsen; Kekoa Bacalso; Joshua Moniz
H1: Torrey Meister; Gregg Nakamura; Kiron Jabour; Ian Gentil
H2: Fred Patacchia; Lincoln Taylor; Keanu Asing; Alex Smith
H3: Kekoa Bacalso; Joshua Moniz; Dion Atkinson (Aus); Nathan Carvalho
H4: Granger Larson; Sunny Garcia; Shane Beschen; Thomas Woods
ROUND OF 32:
H1: Torrey Meister; Fred Patacchia; Tanner Hendrickson; Eala Stewart
H2: Ian Gentil; Alex Smith; Ezekiel Lau; Jamie O'Brien
H3: Keanu Asing; Gregg Nakamura; Keala Naihe; Kenta Hayashi (Jpn)
H4: Lincoln Taylor (Aus); Kiron Jabour; Dylan Goodale; Jean Da Silva (Brz)
H5: Kekoa Bacalso; Shane Beschen; Davey Cathels (Aus); Kahea Hart
H6: Joshua Moniz; Thomas Woods (Aus); Nathan Hedge (Aus); Roy Powers
H7: Sunny Garcia; Dion Atkinson (Aus); Hank Gaskell; Jake Davis (USA)
H8: Granger Larsen; Nathan Carvalho; Flynn Novak; Hizunome Bettero (BRZ)
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