Triple Crown of Surfing 2008 

It was a tough day for all O’Neill World Cup of Surfing competitors at Sunset Beach today and Round 4 of the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) 6-Star Prime event was completed in 15 to 20 foot (5 to 7 meter) waves.

Eric Rebiere (FRA), 29, a former ASP World Tour member, was the only one of seven European surfers to tame the massive sets coming in at the world famous location of Sunset Beach to advance through to Round 5 of the final event of the year. Rebiere, who eliminated fellow Frenchman and current ASP World Tour No. 10 Jeremy Flores (FRA) as well as Irish charger Glenn Hall (IRE), found two solid waves to secure his Round 5 ticket ahead of Phillip MacDonald (AUS).

"It is big out there and I usually like it when it is like that," Rebiere said. "I hurt my back four days ago and I haven’t been able to surf apart from my heats so I am pretty stoked to make it through."

While current ASP World Tour Europeans Flores, Miky Picon (FRA) and Tiago Pires (PRT) all bowed out today, pressure was upon German surfer Marlon Lipke (DEU) who had to get through his heat to keep any 2009 Dream Tour hope alive. Unfortunately, the German ripper was not able to find a good enough back-up ride and was eliminated by Hawaiian Hank Gaskell (HAW) and former ASP World Champion CJ Hobgood (USA) in Round 4.

Lipke, who s back to No. 16 after today, now depends on a few other surfers’ results to still have a chance to make it to the 2009 ASP Top 45 and several scenarios can happen.

If Patrick Gudauskas (USA) gets an equal 13th at Sunset Beach, Lipke will move back one spot in the ratings. If Yadin Nicol (AUS) places 4th or better or Dion Atkinson (AUS) finishes runner-up, the German surfer will move back as well. However, if Lipke remains No. 16 after Sunset Beach, a big result from fellow European Tiago Pires at the Billabong Pipeline Masters could give the Portuguese surfer a double qualification ticket leaving one more spot for the WQS campaigners sitting on the bubble.

The surf is supposed to remain as big in the next couple of days and Eric Rebiere will be at ease in the solid waves. He will surf in Heat 7 of Round 5 against Hawaiian chargers Ian Walsh (HAW) and Kamalei Alexander (HAW) and Kirk Flintoff (AUS).


Billabong XXL 

The Thanksgiving weekend at Maverick's produced an epic feast for many of the world's top big wave riders during two of the most perfect days ever seen at the legendary Northern California surf break.

The all-time action at Mavs provided a monumental kick-start to the Northern Hemisphere winter season and adds to the record number of entries in the ninth annual Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards presented by Monster Energy.  While the swell did offer a number of waves big enough for tow-in surfing, it proved to be more of a classic exhibition of paddle-in surfing at the upper limit of what is possible in that highly respected discipline of the sport.

Photographs of the amazing action have nearly overloaded the website with dozens and dozens of remarkable images of man-against-the-sea achievement. 

The product of an intense mid-pacific storm on Thanksgiving Day, the extremely long-period swell hit the Maverick's reef at an ideal angle, magnifying the face heights of the bigger sets to the 30- to 45-foot range.  While delighting a group of elite local and international big wave surfers, rogue sets broke unexpectedly along reefs and breakwaters throughout the region, capsizing a 26-foot power boat less than a mile from Maverick's, which sits just outside Princeton Harbor in Half Moon Bay, a half-hour south of San Francisco.  Two fishermen died in the accident.

The surf sessions were not without their own degree of peril.  California big wave star Greg Long caught one of the biggest waves to roll in on Saturday, November 29, but straightened out as he was overrun by a mass of whitewater. Long was thrust so deep underwater he suffered a broken eardrum, eventually surfacing with a total loss of equilibrium.  Thanks to a strong leash and a quick rescue by Maverick's pioneer Jeff Clark on a personal water craft, Long was brought to safety before being swept through the notorious rocks which threaten surfers carried inside the main break. 

A group of globetrotting big wave chasers jetted into Half Moon Bay ahead of the swell based on forecasts by  South African Grant "Twiggy" Baker proved that his victory at the Maverick's Surf Contest two years ago was no fluke, consistently taking off the deepest and making it again and again.  Mark Healey and Dave Wassel flew in from Hawaii and made the most of the two days of intense surfing.  Rusty Long and Nathan Fletcher stood out as two of the most passionate big wave hunters from Southern California and made a big mark on the massive right-handers.


Triple Crown of Surfing 2008 

The dream run of big winter surf continued at Sunset Beach today as the top seeds hit the water in the round of 64 of the O’Neill World Cup of Surfing. Wave face heights were in the 20- to 30-foot range and dwarfed competitors and water safety officials. It was an amazing day of courage and big wave riding at the second stop of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing.

The swell peaked around 1 p.m. and the biggest sets of the day closed out the channel, but conditions remained immaculate with light offshore winds.

Californian Patrick Gudauskas took credit for the highest scoring ride of the day - a 9.66 out of 10, and his twin Dane took credit for the perhaps the biggest wave of the day. Both advanced, Pat eliminating his younger brother Tanner in their heat.

Pat is ranked 16th on the Qualifying Series and needs to make it to the semi finals of this event for a berth on the 2009 ASP World Tour. He was thoroughly barreled on the triple overhead wave and claims this to be the biggest surf he’s competed in. Neither of his brothers can qualify.

“This is the biggest surf we’ve ever seen in a contest other than maybe the Waimea event and some of those big wave events,” Gudauskas said.

“I was just looking [for a tube] because that wind was holding it open and I wanted to get barreled. It got really chunky and I just snapped under it, I almost got clipped when I came out of it I was all smiles after that.

“For me personally, I like these conditions because you don’t see anyone else and it’s like you against the ocean. It be a dream come true to qualify, but anything can happen.”

Like Gudauaskas, Australia’s Yadin Nicol, 23, also needs a great result at the O’Neill World for World Tour qualification. Nicol made it out of his heat behind his fellow countrymen and World Tour surfer Taj Burrow. Both Burrow and Nicol are from Westen Australia and have experience in big surf, but Sunset is a different kind of beast when it’s this big.

“It’s so good to watch and it’s just so crazy,” Nicol said. “If you get a wave that lets you do turns you’re going to get the score. I was lucky enough to get a wave to get a couple of turns on.