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No matter how you look at it, Sunset beach in Hawaii is a beast of a wave. The type of wave and environment that can throw many a great surfer. It has a massive line-up, shifting peaks, and the dreaded certainty that you will get caught inside no matter what. It's also a big wave spot with lots of moving water, requiring specialist equipment. Of course, you want to catch a wave out there, so you need bigger boards, but when you're up and riding, you want to be able to throw your board around a bit.

Kelly Slater is one surfer who can't ever seem to make Sunset work for him, despite his years of experience and many events. People all throw out that he's keen to get the monkey off his back, but he never seems to do it.

Local knowledge is also a massive factor at Sunset Beach, which sees many locals rise to the top. But, at the same time, powerful and strong surfers like Jordy Smith are also worth a punt. Having won at Sunset before, Jordy knows how to match power with power and has one of the best Sunset hacks in the business.

John John Florence
5.75 - 7.50

He's fit now, and John John is naturally in tune with the waves and line-up at Sunset after surfing it for so many years. His wave selection is uncanny, and if he gets onto a North Peak, he has a penchant for massive down carves, the same move he has transferred to the big rights of Margaret River. John John also knows the bowl like the back of his hand and can be found threading through tube after tube when he is on his game out here. Despite being relatively slightly built, he utilizes superior positioning. He stays incredibly tight in the pocket at Sunset to impress the judges. He can win the event at the literal drop of a hat.

Barron Mamiya
14.00 - 17.00

The Hawaiian influence will always be strong in the favorites. Barron proved as much last year by winning the inaugural event with power surfing. He has been mentored by all the Sunset beach greats over the years and knows exactly which waves to catch and what to do on them. Having said that, Mamiya does not surf to a formula and is exciting to watch when he goes for unique turns and power moves. The support of the local crowds and a keen hunger to win will show him in good stead this year, and there is every chance of him getting the double. If he's psyched, the swell is good, and he is getting his waves, then he's close to untouchable.

Jack Robinson
5.75 - 6.50

Everybody loves a bit of Jack, despite his weird mumblings and incantations while waiting for some results last year. His surfing is powerful and compact, he takes to the air when needed, and he is incredibly comfortable when the waves get very uncomfortable. His forehand hacks and tube-riding skills are his finest moves, and he thrives on deep take-offs. He loves surfing Sunset, and he also loves to win. He has made it clear that in 2023 he is on the program for a world title hunt, and with the tour starting in Hawaii, he kicks off the year with a clear advantage in the bigger waves.

Ezekiel Lau
14.00 - 35.00

Reminiscent of Sunny Garcia in his prime, Zeke Lau has the prize fighter's physique and the Big Match Temperament to match anything Sunset throws at him. He is not perturbed in the least by big names. Instead, he tries to intimidate and get the waves he wants to win. Lau is also keen to solidly himself on the Championship Tour and has the first half of the year to prove himself again. His forehand hacks exude power, and his confidence on bigger boards and in large surf is well known. All in all, Lau is a ticking time bomb desperate for a win and loves Sunset Beach's challenge.

Jordy Smith
12.00 - 17.00

He has won at Sunset Beach before, and it has been noted many times that he is the one surfer who can match the power of Sunset Beach in any conditions. A few years ago at Sunset Beach, a QS event at the time, was called off due to the swell just maxing out. As the contest was wrapped for the day and these monstrous sets poured through relentlessly, Smith decided it was perfect to go for a surf and try out his new board. He is unfazed by size and power and is always a dangerman at Sunset. He is also hungry, as it has been a few drinks since his last CT win (Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach 2017), and he has a family now. Jordy could shoot the lights out at Sunset.

Matt McGillivray
34.00 - 65.00

Growing up in JBay and living for the gnarly waves at Boneyards – the shallow reef section of the point that precedes Supertubes – Matt loves a big and gnarly right-hander. He fits right into Sunset and looks very at home when it's big, moving around, and grinding over the bowl. McGillivray requalified in a do-or-die heat at Sunset in 2019 when he was just going for the biggest turns on the set waves and used the same skill set to show what he had at those chunky rights of Margaret River. Having just swapped major sponsors ( he has moved across from Rip Curl To Vissla), he is obviously keen on showing his new boss what his value is, and being confident in the big surf gives him a similar advantage as Jack Robinson in the first two events of the year. Matty could be a massive surprise at Sunset this year.


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