POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Oct 29, 2012
The HIC Pro at Sunset Beach kicks off Hawaii's winter surf contest season, with the holding period beginning today and running through Nov. 10.
The event is an Association of Surfing Professionals 4-Star rated event boasting $95,000 in prize money.
It is also a local qualifier for the 30th anniversary of the Triple Crown of Surfing, the prestigious series of three events held at Haleiwa, Sunset and Pipeline that runs from Nov. 12 through Dec. 20. The surfer with the largest cumulative total from the three events is crowned the champion of the Triple Crown of Surfing.
The HIC Pro has 144 entrants, with 13 countries represented. Last year's event winner, Ezekiel Lau, 18, of Honolulu is set to defend his title.
Now that Lau is out of high school, he has his sights focused on his future in surfing professionally full-time. Lau placed second at the world junior championships in Bali earlier this month.
"For me, this contest is a good way to feel out where I am at for the rest of the season," he said.
"I have been doing a lot traveling and surfing around the world recently. Since my return I have been working out, training at home and have been working on getting my boards ready and dialed for winter. It's a good steppingstone for the Triple Crown.
"It's really good for the Hawaii guys who can't travel and get the points needed to get into the Triple Crown. It's a good kick-starter for someone like me last year because it gave me that chance to get into the Triple Crown. If you do good in the Triple Crown, it can make or break your career. My goal for the winter season is to improve on how I did last year. I don't feel like I am defending champion. I feel like I have done it before, but I try not to think about it and go into it with the same mind-set as last year. I want to have fun with it and just surf."
Other notable contenders include past champions Pancho Sullivan, Billy Kemper, Myles Padaca, Ian Walsh and six-time Triple Crown champion Sunny Garcia. Notable international competitors include Mark Occhilupo and Jack Freestone of Australia, who recently placed first at the world junior championships, Jean De Silva of Brazil, Joan Duru of France, and Masatoshi Ohno of Japan.
The wave forecast looks good for a likely start today.
Check surfnewsnetwork.com or call 596-SURF for updates. There will be a live webcast of the HIC Pro at www.vans/hicpro and broadcast on Oceanic Time Warner cable in Hawaii on channel 250.