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Four-time world champion SUP surfer Kai Lenny, slicing and dicing his way to the Quarter Finals in the arena he knows and loves so well. Photo: Greg Panas
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2016 Standup World Tour Opens With ‘Epic’ Surf at Sunset Beach Pro

Congratulations Caio Vaz, winner of the 2016 Sunset Beach Pro. Photo: Greg Panas
Congratulations Caio Vaz, winner of the 2016 Sunset Beach Pro. Full event gallery with late rounds coming today. Photo: Greg Panas

2016 Sunset Beach Pro | Early Rounds

Sunset Beach serves up stellar sets for a sensational start to the 2016 Standup World Tour season

There’s something in the way she moves.

For the world’s elite SUP surfers this past weekend, “she” was Sunset Beach—that elegant queen bejeweling the North Shore with one of the most iconic reefs on earth—and giggity-giggity-goodness gracious, she was moving something spectacular.

This year’s Sunset Beach Pro arrived in picturesque form for the fabled season opener of the 2016 Standup World Tour last Saturday. The maiden in motion met contenders with poised form even locals are deeming historic, memorable—nay—unforgettable. Semantics aside, the gist: Sunset’s waves stole the show for the early rounds.

Day One saw the return of the Standup World Tour manifest with overhead surf on opening day of the 2016 Sunset Beach Pro, lending an exceptionally contestable arena for Trials and Round One. On Day Two, the prospect of pristine conditions closing in from the horizon became a reality by mid-morning, and after a brief window of sleepy swell slimmed the pack through Round Two’s morning repocharge, Round Three opened with a superb showcase of world-class, progressive SUP surfing from the elite lineup of male stars, performing in some of the best surf Sunset Beach has ever served up for a competition.

The swell that graced Sunset for the remainder of Day Two brought “the most beautiful and groomed looking walls imaginable…Barrels were commonplace, as were scores in the excellent range,” said the World Tour organizers at The Waterman League.

With Sunset moving methodically to her truest tune—specifically, proper six- to eight-foot (and occasional 10-foot) Hawaiian, barreling beauties funneling in from the depths of the open Pacific—Round Three brought packed its heat for the gun show, to say the least. World Tour competitors charged the improved, critical conditions head on, and every surfers’ quick-draw (sticking with this gun-slangin’ analogy) was put to the test, the nerves in their collective trigger-fingers showcased on blatant display.

Heat One kicked off with an uncontested heat-win from current world champion, Brazilian Caio Vaz, followed by standout performances from four-time World Tour champion Kai Lenny along with North Shore’s own Mo Freitas, fellow Hawaiian hellman Noa Ginella, Maui’s power-packing sled-shredder Zane Schweitzer and the Dane, Casper “The Viking” Steinfath, all of whom earned their routes directly to the Quarter Finals on Day Two. To ice the cake, a couple awe-inspiring underdog showings set the season’s performance standard sky-high—one from Japan’s solitary World Tour contender, Masa Motohashi and another from Aussie World Tour vet James Casey, the latter of whom earned the day’s highest heat-total with multiple rides in the excellent range for a combined score of 18.33, showcasing his off-season training and title-hungry game-face in flagrant form.

After the contest was put on hold for yesterday’s national holiday (Happy President’s Day, by the way), the waiting period opens again THIS MORNING with the possibility of full day of competition and a champion crowned. Stay tuned to SUPthemag.com for updates on the action and to watch the live webcast of Finals Day at the 2016 Sunset Beach Pro.

See what went down at the women’s World Tour season opener, the Turtle Bay Pro.

Day 2 Highlights

Take a trip down memory lane with exclusive highlights and wrap-up from the 2015 Sunset Beach Pro.

Leader-board Heading Into Finals Day:

Sunset Pro 2016 quarter final leaderboard