Maui Sports

Lahaina’s Payne Stays in Control at Vans World Cup

December 3, 2014, 9:24 PM HST
* Updated December 5, 9:59 AM
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Lahaina's Dusty Payne looked sharp winning his Round 3 Heat Wednesday at Sunset Beach. Photo by ASP / Ed Sloane.

Lahaina’s Dusty Payne looked sharp winning his Round 3 Heat Wednesday at Sunset Beach. Photo by ASP / Ed Sloane.

By MauiNow Staff

Lahaina’s Dusty Payne continued to control the spotlight Wednesday at the Vans World Cup of Surfing, recording one of the highest heat scores of the day in a much-anticipated matchup with current ASP World No. 1 Gabriel Medina of Brazil.

The two locked horns in Round 3 at Sunset with the 20-year-old Medina looking relaxed in his debut at the Vans World Cup.

The 26-year-old Payne, however, was electric, opening the 30-minute heat with an outrageous under-the-lip late airdrop, followed by a string of high speed, carving turns. His wave selection proved to be flawless and arguably the difference between him and Medina.

Medina’s waves being substantially smaller and thereby limiting his scoring potential.

Gabriel Medina of Brazil made it through Round 3 but finished second to Maui's Dusty Payne on Wednesday. Photo by ASP / Ed Sloane.

Gabriel Medina of Brazil made it through Round 3 but finished second to Maui’s Dusty Payne on Wednesday. Photo by ASP / Ed Sloane.

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“It’s always nice to compete with the top dogs,” said Payne. “Beating Gabe doesn’t really mean anything except I get to cruise to the next round. It doesn’t really mean much. I was just looking to go and try to get two fun waves. I’m just having fun and the waves keep coming, and I just keep smiling. It’s fun!”

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Organizers will assess conditions Thursday, Dec. 4, morning for a potential start to the final day of the Vans World Cup of Surfing, however it is possible that they could wait for the next rise in swell expected Friday, Dec. 5.

Surfline, official forecaster for the Vans World Cup of Surfing, is calling for the following: Another medium to possibly solid NNW swell for the last couple days of the event waiting period. Trades ease a bit through mid-week and will be at moderate levels for the second half of the week. Stay tuned for the next call at 7:45 a.m. Thursday.

Medina was his trademark calm self when discussing his return to the water Wednesday. With his greatest task ahead of him in the upcoming showdown for the ASP World Title against Mick Fanning (AUS) and Kelly Slater (USA) at the Billabong Pipe Masters, the Vans World Cup offers a solid warmup. It also allows him to check off a required Qualifying Series (QS) competition and have a little fun before the pressure piles on.

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“No pressure, I just want to surf,” said Medina. “The surf here is really enjoyable and I just want to have fun. Sunset is a fun wave.”

Australia's Matt Wilkinson lets his emotions fly following a 9-pointer in his Round 3 Heat on Wednesday at Sunset. Photo by ASP / Ed Sloane.

Australia’s Matt Wilkinson lets his emotions fly following a 9-pointer in his Round 3 Heat on Wednesday at Sunset. Photo by ASP / Ed Sloane.

Matt Wilkinson of Australia is one surfer battling for re-qualification. Heading into the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing at No. 13 on the QS rankings and No. 24 on the WCT rankings.

“It’s been an up-and-down year for me,” Wilkinson said. “That was a big heat and I was fired up to get those waves. Think that puts me in a good position and hopefully we get some more great surf and I find myself in the Final.”

New Zealand’s Ricardo Christie continued an impressive run that began Tuesday in Round 1 and now sees him locked in for Round 4 on the final day of this competition. He posted the top score of the competition Wednesday — 16.9 point total, advancing well clear of established World Tour competitor Josh Kerr of Australia, and eliminating 17-year-old Seth Moniz of Hawaii and Brett Simpson (USA). Christie’s highest wave score was 9.07 for a committed series of fast carves and powerful cutbacks.

“I was going with the whole not think about it and then it didn’t really work the last three events,” Christie said. “So I’ve just accepted it and I just have to get through some heats and I still want to just surf every heat as its own. I want to surf like I know I can and not get freaked out and surf like a kook.”

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