Surfing - Kemper shines on home surf at Sunset Beach

Billy Kemper took advantage of his home conditions by clinching the day’s top score as the Vans World Cup got under way again.

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Surfing - Kemper shines on home surf at Sunset Beach
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Billy Kemper (Imago)

The Hawaiian scored 17 points out of a maximum 20 in surf on wave face heights of up to 15 feet, to continue his strong run after he emerged triumphant from round one.

“I've been surfing here since I was eight years old,” said Kemper.

“To me it's local knowledge of surfing out here and putting in your time. I mean this morning there was a bunch of kids out here who surf unbelievable - some of the best surfers in the world - but they're out here the day before the contest practicing rather than those of us who are out here year round.

“We surf out here everyday, it's our backyard and I think that's what really comes into play.”

Kemper faces John and Nathan Florence along with Fred Patacchia on Saturday.

Australia’s Jay Thompson was right on Kemper’s tail with 16.56 while Frenchman Marc Lacomare scored 16.33.

“Sunset's built for a bigger bloke like myself,” said Thompson. “We grow up on a lot of right hand points. In Australia there's a lot of big waves and a lot of power.

“We spend a lot of time out here too, whenever there's swell. I just like coming here. Big waves are something we don't get to surf all year round in events and everyone just looks forward to it.

“Perfect Haleiwa, perfect Sunset, and perfect Pipeline. At the end of the day it's what we're here for and it's just beautiful to surf here in waves like that.”

Hawaii and Australia aptly rule the Vans World Cup when it comes to numbers, with the two countries holding 24 and 21 spots respectively.

Athletes from USA, Brazil, France, Tahiti, South Africa, Ireland, and Portugal make up the remainder of the 64 spots. Top seeds will enter the fray on Saturday in the form of Kelly Slater, Sunny Garcia, John Florence, Gabriel Medina and Triple Crown title contenders Sebastien Zietz and Alejo Muniz.

Slater returns for the first time in six years, and the surfing legend will be fighting his demons after making 12 attempts at the crown with no success – his best result was third place in 1998.

“Kelly surfs every wave in Hawaii exceptionally well, but with four-man heats and such a big playing field, he’s not able to get into guys’ heads like he does on a small peak,” said fellow veteran and competitor, Garcia.

“Sitting next to Kelly on a small peak can be very intimidating. At Sunset you’re not worried about Kelly Slater, you’re worried about the West Peak. I think he’s the greatest surfer of all time.

“Do I think he’s beatable? Yes. Do I want to beat him? Absolutely. Every chance I get, I want to give him a ribbing.”

Round of 96 results:

H1 : Ian Gentil (HAW) 12.20pts ; Jean Da Silva (BRA) 9.74pts ; Dion Atkinson (AUS) 8.40pts ; Kai Barger (HAW) 0.00pts

H2 : Tom Whitaker (AUS) 11.83pts ; Alex Smith (HAW) 11.23pts ; Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 10.00pts ; Charles Martin (GLP) 7.74pts

H3 : Jamie O'Brien (HAW) 10.83pts ; Glenn Hall (IRL) 7.60pts ; Mitch Crews (AUS) 5.30pts ; Peterson Crisanto (BRA) 2.23pts

H4 : Gabe Kling (USA) 13.04pts ; Chris Ward (USA) 12.60pts ; Alex Ribeiro (BRA) 11.73pts ; Jano Belo (BRA) 4.53pts

H5 : Nathan Hedge (AUS) 12.43pts ; Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 8.10pts ; Keanu Asing (BRA) 6.86pts ; Olamana Eleogram (HAW) 4.74pts

H6 : Jesse Mendes (BRA) 14.73pts ; Ian Walsh (HAW) 13.10pts ; Tim Reyes (USA) 12.67pts ; Filipe Toledo (BRA) 8.44pts

H7 : Jay Thompson (AUS) 16.56pts ; Lincoln Taylor (AUS) 11.14pts ; Willian Cardoso (BRA) 8.57pts ; Love Hodel (HAW) 7.27pts

H8 : Jack Freestone (AUS) 16.10pts ; Granger Larsen (HAW) 11.57pts ; Makai McNamara (HAW) 11.36pts ; Cory Arrambide (USA) 7.40pts

H9 : Billy Kemper (HAW) 17.00pts ; Perth Standlick (AUS) 12.97pts ; Brian Toth (PRI) 8.00pts ; Myles Padaca (HAW) 0.00

H10 : Evan Valiere (HAW) 13.16pts ; Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 12.66pts ; Dale Staples (ZAF) 10.60pts ; Mark Occhilupo (AUS) 4.33pts

H11 : Nat Young (USA) 11.44pts ; Ricardo Dos Santos (BRA) 9.00pts ; Matt Banting (AUS) 8.67pts ; Evan Geiselman (USA) 3.86pts

H12 : Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) 14.33pts ; Joan Duru (FRA) 13.14pts ; Hank Gaskell (HAW) 12.84pts ; Hizunome Bettero (BRA) 11.30pts

H13 : Marc Lacomare (FRA) 16.33pts; Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 13.10pts; Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR) 9.47pts; Tomas Hermes (BRA) 8.34pts

H14: Dusty Payne (HAW) 14.67pts; Garrett Parkes (AUS) 11.86pts; Gavin Gillette (HAW) 10.84pts; Dane Gudauskas (USA) 8.10pts

H15: Pancho Sullivan (HAW) 14.70pts; Nathaniel Curran (USA) 11.77pts; Mason Ho (HAW) 6.43pts; Mitchel Coleborn (AUS) 5.63pts

H16:  Koa Smith (HAW) 12.90pts; Nathan Yeomans (USA) 11.87pts; Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY) 8.50pts; Heath Josks (AUS) 7.00pts 

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