Is it Winter already? Yes, according to the Hawaii surf schedule. The first major winter swell is preparing to hit the Hawaiian Islands, just in time for the HIC PRO at Sunset Beach, starting Monday, October 29, and running through November 10. The HIC PRO, a $95,000 4-star rated Association of Surfing Professionals event, launches the 2012/13 North Shore big wave winter competition season.
The HIC PRO, known as a launching pad for local rising surf stars, offers critical points for surfers looking to elevate their international ranking and is a local qualifier for the 30th Anniversary $1 Million Vans Triple Crown of Surfing that will follow from November 12 through December 20.
A total of 144 surfers from 13 nations will compete in the HIC PRO, with half of its representation by local Hawaii surfers. The 4-star rating of the event makes it a critical source of ASP ratings points for all who have entered. Athletes will come from as far away as Argentina, France, and Australia.
The defending champion is 18-year old Ezekiel Lau, who just graduated from Kamehameha Schools in Honolulu and who just last week placed second in the ASP World Junior Championships in Bali. According to Lau, “I’m not approaching [the HIC PRO] as defending champion. It’s a brand new year, so it’s time to start all fresh and do it all over again. But I’m comfortable at home, I’m feeling relaxed, and I’ll just do what I have to do.”
The newly crowned ASP World Junior champion – Australia’s Jack Freestone – is also entered into the event. Other notable HIC PRO contenders include Hawaii’s Sebastian Zietz, 6-time Vans Triple Crown champion Sunny Garcia, former HIC Pro champions Billy Kemper, Pancho Sullivan and Myles Padaca, and Maui’s Ian Walsh and Clay Marzo. International contenders include #1 seed Jean De Silva (Brazil), former world champion Mark Occhilupo (Australia), and Joan Duru (France).
The HIC PRO will be webcast live at www.vans.com/hicpro, and broadcast on Oceanic Time Warner Cable in Hawaii and on the US West Coast on Time Warner Cable SportsNet (check local listings).