Florence Maintains Impeccable Form at Home

Smith’s Power Notches Back-to-Back Quarterfinal Appearances in 2024

O’Brien, Igarashi, Robinson, and Ferreira Remain Steadfast Amid Full Day of Action

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The Hurley Pro Sunset Beach, the second stop on the 2024 World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), completed a second major day of competition and ran through the men’s Round of 32 and Round of 16 to decide the men’s Quarterfinalists in challenging eight-to-ten foot rights at Sunset Beach.

Mixed swells and breezy winds tested the world’s best surfers again at Sunset, but as conditions improved throughout the afternoon, performance levels rose to match the talent of the remaining eight surfers in contention by the end of the day.

Florence Maintains Impeccable Form at Home

Two-time World Champion John John Florence (HAW) put on another masterclass in his backyard, first by picking the right waves where most competitors struggled to identify any, then by absolutely tearing them apart with lightning-fast carves right under the lip for a 16.06 (out of a possible 20) heat total. A runner-up last week at Pipe, Florence has the potential to secure the yellow leader’s jersey here at Sunset after the early exit of his compatriot, Barron Mamiya (HAW).

“I got really lucky in the non-priority heat to find an open face wave, which there weren’t a lot of right now,” Florence said. “It took me a while to find another wave, there were a lot of wash throughs and eventually I just tried to get waves to get one turn on, a clean wall and a close out. Once I started looking for that I got two really good ones back-to-back. I guess I just changed my perspective on what I was looking for. It feels really good to just be chipping away at heats. I’m really enjoying it and the challenges that every heat brings and trying to just be ok with that and not be too hard on myself.”

Smith’s Power Notches Back-to-Back Quarterfinal Appearances in 2024

CT veteran Jordy Smith (RSA) enjoyed the winning feeling once again with Round of 32 and 16 victories to surge into the Quarterfinals. Smith’s power sent him past Miguel Pupo (BRA), before facing another in-form event threat, Rio Waida (IDN), in the Round of 16, where he posted his second 7-point ride of the day amid the tough conditions. Smith’s back-to-back Quarterfinal appearances to start 2024 have sparked the South African’s vigor in the jersey as he now looks to carry that momentum into a world-class Quarterfinal against Florence.

“I’m surfing the best I can with the opportunities I get and it’s really difficult in the overlapping heats since you’re trying to position yourself and at the same time be mindful of those competitors who have priority,” said Smith. “Everyone’s sitting right at the bowl and I’m just doing the best with the cards I get dealt. John (Florence) took three of the waves I wanted. He’s definitely the best on the rail and if there’s something to draw inspiration from it’s definitely that.”

O’Brien, Igarashi, Robinson, and Ferreira Remain Steadfast Amid Full Day of Action

 Sunset Beach standout Ethan Ewing (AUS) kicked off his day with a big heat against 11-time World Champion Kelly Slater (USA), eliminating him from the competition. Ewing then had to face an in-form Liam O’Brien (AUS). O’Brien carried his momentum from his Round of 32 win against Caio Ibelli (BRA) through to his matchup against Ewing, and posted an impressive 7.83 (out of a possible 10), utilizing his dynamic forehand on multiple sections of a Sunset Beach diamond in the rough.

O’Brien will now face Ryan Callinan (AUS), after eliminating Connor O’Leary (JPN) in his Round of 16 heat, as both O’Brien and Callinan enter their first Quarterfinal appearance of 2024.

 “The ocean felt like it was working with me a bit,” said O’Brien. “When I had priority, there was a bit of a lull and unfortunately for Ethan it went a bit turbo when he had priority at the end there. I’ve had so many heats where I’ve just been lost at sea, so it’s nice to get one where I get a couple waves. Obviously that was always going to be a really hard heat, Ethan’s just so good out here. Really happy to get past that one and we’ll see how we go in the next.”

Two of the form surfers of the Round of 32, Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) and Griffin Colapinto (USA) matched up in an excruciatingly slow battle in the Round of 16, coming down to the last seconds with a minimal ride for Igarashi to give him the edge over the former World No. 3 Colapinto. The Californian was hoping for one more opportunity, the kind he got in his previous round where he locked into the first tube of the day with a big snap to wrap the wave, earning a 9.00-point ride for his effort. Instead, it was Igarashi, needing a 1.67, who found enough of a wall to carve one turn and advance into the Quarters. Igarashi’s win tied the pair in their famous head-to-head rivalry.

Igarashi will face Seth Moniz (HAW) in the Quarters as the Hawaiian escaped a similarly nail-biting affair against rookie Jacob Willcox (AUS). Both surfers found a good score early on but struggled to pick the right backup wave and it all came down to the wire and a last ditch effort from Moniz.

Jack Robinson (AUS) proved he will be one to beat after overcoming the Round of 32’s top performer Jake Marshall (USA), who posted the day’s highest single-wave score of a 9.17, in a back-and-forth battle that went down to the final minutes.

Big Names Dealt Early Eliminations in Moving Sunset Lineup

 The Round of 32 witnessed some shocking early eliminations, most notably rankings leader Barron Mamiya (HAW), who was taken out by Frederico Morais (POR). The experienced Portuguese surfer selected better waves and applied his typical clean carves and smart attack to find one of the few big scores of the round, an excellent 8.00, to eventually take out Mamiya, the winner last week at Pipeline and the 2022 winner here at Sunset. Morais was eliminated by 2019 World Champion Italo Ferreira (BRA) in their Round of 16 heat.

Three-time WSL Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA) lost to Seth Moniz (HAW) in the Round of 32, Heat 4. Moniz’s confidence gained from defeating Medina carried into the Round of 16 where he overtook rookie sensation Willcox, who previously defeated Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) in the Round of 16.

“That was pretty grindy and I’m sure online it looks a lot easier than it is,” said Moniz. “I’m just stoked I got gifted that last wave. I’m super stoked to make the Quarters at Sunset and I did it in 2022. I had a shocker at Pipe which is the event I look forward to the most so that one hurt. But I’m looking forward and just taking it one heat at a time. I had a long offseason and feel a little rusty getting back into the swing of things but now hopefully I get some better waves on Finals Day.”

11-time World Champion Kelly Slater (USA) also exited in equal 17th place despite keeping everyone on their toes with a last-second roll of the dice that saw him produce his signature carving 360 maneuver on a foamy Sunset right that came up short of the score he needed to advance.

With plenty of shuffling among the rankings set to take place, all-star Quarterfinal draws will provide the opportunity for those who remain in the draw to gain vital ground, and also a chance for the early upper echelon to start putting space between them and their opponents.

For more news and highlights from today’s competition at the Hurley Pro Sunset Beach, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com.