The North Shore comp season is in full swing now, and drawing first blood is QS battler David Van Zyl with win at the Vans Pro.
The 26-year-old South African faced a formidable crew in the final, which included Zeke Lau, who’s enjoyed his fair share of success at Sunset, as well as a surging Jack Robinson and Barron Mamiya.
At the start of the week the surf at Sunset pumped in the 10- to 15-foot zone, and while it settled into a more manageable 8-foot by finals day, the open-ocean nature of the place always makes it a challenge. This may explain why Van Zyl was the first-ever international surfer to win the comp.
Staying with pal Benji Brand this winter—who had a solid run at Sunset himself—he was able to glean some insight and local knowledge. It clearly helped as he was able to adeptly position himself in the lineup, and ultimately, put himself on the waves he needed.
Lau held the lead for most of the final and appeared to be on his way to his fifth career victory at Sunset before Van Zyl got hot and bagged a couple of scores to turn the heat.
“All these guys are insane,” Van Zyl said afterward. “Obviously Zeke, he’s won this event before, he’s so powerful and he knows this wave really well. Jack Robbo, he’s a master out here, he’s so good. He’s not Hawaiian, but he pretty much is, he just rips this wave. And Barron is probably top three or four guys out there, he’s really good and rides small boards. So coming into that Final I was just so happy to have made it and it’s just really special.”
Also on the table at the Vans Pro was the WSL Hawaii/Tahiti Uni Regional title, which went to Kauai’s Gavin Gillette. He was given a $5,000 travel fund for the effort, which was given out in the name of Sunny Garcia—the winningest surfer in Vans Triple Crown history.
Normally the Vans Pro is seen as a warm-up for the bigger QS 10,000 events on the North Shore, but with so much talent in the draw this year—highlighted by a couple of 10-point rides from Brand and Robinson—this year’s comp was considerably more heated. It’s going to be fun to see who’s able to use their momentum from Sunset to springboard into solid results at the Vans Triple Crown. With 20,000 QS points up for grabs, any number of qualification scenarios can play out.
“I just want to carry this on and keep going through the whole Vans Triple Crown,” Lau explained. “I’m looking at clinching that Triple Crown for Sunny [Garcia] this year, I want to bring that trophy home to him.”
The Vans Triple Crown gets underway with the Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa on November 13.
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