Maui’s Jackson Bunch gives standout performance; Sunset Pro next call is Friday
Event organizers have called the World Surf League Sunset Pro presented by HIC, a regional Qualifying Series 1000 event, OFF for Wednesday, Nov. 2, and Thursday, Nov. 3. A dropping swell and lack of consistency weren’t providing opportunities for competitors and now, organizers will reconvene Friday, Nov. 4, at 7 a.m. HST for a possible start to Finals Day.
“The swell we’ve had for the past two days has tapered off and is forecasted to fade throughout the day,” said WSL Hawaii/Tahiti Nui Tour Manager Marty Thomas. “There is a new moderate, west swell lined up for Friday and Saturday. We’re off today and tomorrow, and hopefully see this event wrap up in some decent size. Thank you again to HIC, HYSDO, and the local surf community for all their support.”
When action resumes, the men’s Round of 32 will feature renowned phenom Jackson Dorian (HAW) taking on an in-form Luke Tema (HAW), Diego Ferri (HAW), and Rylan Beavers (HAW) in Heat 1.
Top-seeded men and women took control in continued two-to-three foot swell on Tuesday at the Sunset Pro. The men’s Round of 64 finished in its entirety with brilliant showcases before the women debuted in dominant form to power through the Round of 20 and Quarterfinals with a few big upsets.
Hawaiʻi/Tahiti Nui Rankings Leaders Continue to Set the Pace
Current Hawaiʻi/Tahiti No. 3 Joshua Moniz (HAW) started the day off with a clutch victory, but his fellow rankings leaders, No. 1 Eli Hanneman (HAW), No. 2 Jackson Bunch (HAW), and No. 4 Kai Martin (HAW) all earned respective wins of their own. An all-important Finals Day awaits to see who makes a charge closer to Challenger Series qualification, as well as the highest-ranked Pro Juniors.
Bunch’s impressive backhand attack earned the Maui competitor a 13.65 heat total to secure his place into Finals Day and moves one step closer to securing his place into the World Junior Championships.
“You just have to be on the best waves and right now it’s not normal Sunset where there’s a golden egg in every heat,” Bunch told the WSL. “It’s a lot of the same waves and the best surfer wins. It’s always nice to win that first heat and I’m excited for Finals Day, hopefully the waves are fun, but I had a blast out there.”
Also notching important Round of 64 wins, former event victor Billy Kemper (HAW), Kainehe Hunt (HAW), Tanner Hendrickson (HAW), Tyler Newton(HAW), Kai Paula (HAW), Gregg Nakamura (HAW), and Benji Brand (HAW) are into Finals Day.
Men’s Remaining Top Seeds Shine in Small Conditions
Rising talent Shion Crawford (HAW) brought out some of his best forehand attacks to earn a brilliant 14.50 heat total, including an excellent 8.00. The Haleiwa born-and-raised competitor made a statement at the Priority Destinations Pro presented by Mastercard to kickstart his 2022/23 season, but fell short of a major result and now looks to build on early success at Sunset Beach.
“It feels good to compete at home, we only have two contests so far so you have to make use of them,” Crawford told the WSL. “A good start is what you want, you start off strong and that builds some confidence. You just have to get a second score and you’re stoked. I just try to surf with no pressure so that you just surf freely and have fun out there.”
2022 Championship Tour (CT) standout, starting from a wildcard and earning a full-time place into the 2023 season, Barron Mamiya (HAW) made his time in the jersey count with an impressive debut heat win. The 22-year-old notched the win of his young career right in this very lineup and now looks for another victory.
“I’m stoked to be home and it’s kind of the off-season for me, but I’m excited to do another competition,” said Mamiya in an event recap. “It’s amazing to be back at Sunset. I haven’t surfed out here since the last contest and I’m stoked to be having fun. It’s sick to be on Tour finally and go to all the spots. I’ve been preparing for next year, training a lot, and I’m fired up to finish strong here tomorrow.
Gabriela Bryan Dominates, Eweleiula Wong and Malia Lima Deliver Big Upsets
Kauaʻi, Hawaiʻi’s Gabriela Bryan (HAW) made her dreams of qualifying for the elite Championship Tour (CT) a reality in 2021 and earned the 2022 Rookie of the Year. The former Sunset Pro Junior victor debuted in phenomenal fashion with an excellent 16.50 (out of a possible 20) heat total and Maluhia Kinimaka(HAW) advancing behind her. The 20-year-old is capitalizing on an early chance to get reps in Sunset Beach despite the small conditions, and knows the importance of time in a jersey.
“This last year on the CT did so much for confidence with the level being so high, and I think I’ve gotten some amazing experience,” said Bryan. “It’s super important doing this contest for jersey time. There’s a pretty big break until the CT starts back up so it’s good to stay in heats and it’s tough competition. These young girls are really good.”
Emerging threat Eweleiula Wong (HAW) helped dismantle current Hawaiʻi/Tahiti Nui No. 1 Moana Jones Wong (HAW) with an impressive 14.25 heat total alongside fellow newcomer Lucy Jarrard (ASM), also advancing. This marks the 17-year-old’s second year competing in the QS and also already has an ISA World Junior Championship to her name. Now, the Wahiawa, Oʻahu competitor looks to finish at Sunset Beach strong.
For the Hawaiʻi/Tahiti Nui Pro Juniors, competitors 20-and-under, such as Wong, this event is another crucial stepping stone in their season as it earns them points toward WSL World Junior Championships. Erin Brooks (HAW), Malia Lima (HAW), Mahulia Kinimaka (HAW), and Nora Liotta (HAW) are all in the hunt with their Finals Day appearances.
“It would be awesome to get into the World Juniors and also the Challenger Series,” said Wong. “I would love to make it to the World Tour eventually. I’m super excited to be back into Finals Day and hopefully get some fun waves.”
Also, a vital Quarterfinal win for Brianna Cope (HAW) earned her way into the Semifinals with a brilliant 14.60 heat total after a crushing, Quarterfinal loss to start her QS season, and Lima handled her Quarterfinal Heat 3 battle in clutch fashion – also earning a big upset over current No. 2 Puamakamae DeSoto (HAW).
The event is also supported by the Hawaiʻi Youth Surfing Development Organization, a local nonprofit working to support Hawaii’s next generation through career and competitive development, in and out of the water.
The Sunset Pro presented by HIC will run on the best three days of the event window beginning Oct. 28 – Nov. 6.
For more information, visit www.WorldSurfLeague.com.