Pipeline, O`ahu, Hawai`i (Friday, December 16, 2000) -- World champion elect
Sunny Garcia (Kilauea, Kaua`i) lost his grip on a dream of three consecutive
Vans Triple Crown event titles today, defeated by Pancho Sullivan in round two
of the Mountain Dew Pipe Masters. Having won the G-Shock Hawaiian Pro, Rip
Curl Cup and Triple Crown title, Garcia was hoping to become the first surfer in
history to claim all three events by winning the Mountain Dew Pipe Masters.
In an arena of equally perfect 6-8 foot Pipeline (left-hand barrels) and Backdoor (right-hand barrels), the odds were evenly stacked. Had it been dominant lefts, Pancho's backside attack boasted the edge over Garcia's. But Garcia and his supporters were looking forward to great results if the peak opened up to Backdoor.
Garcia held control of the heat for the first 25 of 30 minutes but, purely on scores, each surfer's ride was as good as his opponent's. Sullivan just needed to find a third ride stronger than Garcia's. It came, in the form of perfect, long Backdoor barrel and he didn't falter, proving himself to be a threat no matter which way the waves ran.
"With the shifty conditions, a little bit of west and north, it was 50-50," said Sullivan. "I just tried to pick the wave that would allow me to get deep and to come out. I knew I needed a 5.0 on my last ride to win. It was a pretty small wave but when I took off I knew I (had a good chance) and I was not giving up hope no matter what. It felt really good when I came out of the barrel. I knew if Sunny ended up getting a better ride, I had given it my best shot and that's all I could do.
"I had really mixed emotions going into the heat because I wanted to see Sunny go a lot further in this event. He's had an incredible year and I have a tremendous amount of respect for his surfing as well as him as a person. I really wanted to advance but at the same time you never want to see your idol lose out."
Earlier in the morning, defending Mountain Dew Pipe Masters champion Kelly Slater suffered a minor injury but took his hopes a round further with a win over fellow Floridian C.J. Hobgood. On his last ride of the match-up, Slater found himself too deep inside the barrel and was pushed off his board and onto the reef feet first. The diagnosis was a contusion to his heel that won't be hindrance by the next round.
Hobgood put up a valiant attempt to overthrow Slater, but was shut out of the picture once 'the King of Pipe' began to weave his tube-riding magic.
"I get in the water and Pipeline and it's like something turns on for me," said Slater, 28, who retired from the pro surfing tour two years ago and now competes selectively. "I'm just so happy to be surfing here and to be on these waves. I get really focused as soon as I get in the water. I wasn't sure about how I'd do before I the contest started, but I've had two really good heats and I don't feel like I've put in my best performance yet."
As the unprecedented Pipe Masters champion, having won the event a total of five times over the past eight years, Slater surfs the break better than anybody when he's on his game. His performances in the first two rounds promise another great result this year.
Also worthy of mention today is Florida's Damien Hobgood. With three individual wave scores that were each near-perfect 9.8, 9.0, 8.5 Hobgood advanced with the largest heat score of the entire competition to date: 27.3 out of a possible 30.
The Mountain Dew Pipe Masters is the third and final stop of the 2000 Vans Triple Crown. The full waiting period for the event is December 9-21. As the final stop on the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Championship Tour (WCT) for 2000, the Mountain Dew Pipe Masters will determine the elite WCT Top 44 competitor lineup for 2001.
ESPN AIR DATES
Thursday, 12/14/00, 3pm, G-Shock Hawaiian Pro
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Last Modified: Sunday - 20001217.12:50 EST
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