Adam Melling Powers Way to Victory at Sunset Beach, Re-qualifying for ASP World Tour; Seabass Extends Triple Crown Lead

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Adam Melling has a knack for late-season dramatics. Just like last year, he arrived to Hawaii needing at least one huge result in one of the three stops in the Triple Crown of Surfing in order to remain on the prestigious – and lucrative – ASP World Tour. Taking notes from his Oakley teammate, Sebastian “Seabass” Zietz, who won the event at Haleiwa the week prior, Melling found his groove and improved with each heat on his way to winning the Vans World Cup of Surfing at Sunset Beach.

“Every year I leave it until pretty late – I don’t know why I do that to myself,” said Melling, while up on the podium holding the perpetual World Cup of Surfing trophy and wearing a pair of leis. “The pressure is off my shoulders and that’s a big relief because that waves at Pipe are pretty big and scary sometimes.”

Though much of the attention on Tuesday had been shined on Seabass – who continued his historic run in the Triple Crown – Melling quietly worked his way through heats, his confidence rising. Regularly regarded as one of the most talented surfers on Tour, even though his up-and-down results may say otherwise, everything seemed to fall into place for Melling in the quarterfinals. His turns became more pronounced and powerful. His wave selection improved. There wasn’t a maneuver he couldn’t execute or an air drop he couldn’t stick on his way to a two-wave score of 18.4, the highest score of the event.

In the semis, Melling did enough to get through, just beating out another Oakley teammate, Perth Standlick. Standlick was also one of the talks of the day with his polished power surfing.

Meanwhile, Seabass continued to shock the surfing world. From one heat to the next, he was laying down some of the best turns of the event. He’d come into the beach and hang out with all of his friends in the competitor’s area and never show a flash of stress or anxiety. At one point he refueled on a banana and a cheeseburger and then went out and won his heat.

By the time the final arrived, the elation was already beyond control with the Oakley contingent. Nearly the entire team had made its way to Sunset from the team house at Off the Wall to witness what was going down. Melling’s re-qualification and Seabass’ qualification had been among the biggest story lines coming into winter on the North Shore. And now here they were, both doing exactly what was necessary to reach their respective milestones.

Seabass was the first to strike, threading through a big barrel to take an early, commanding lead. Brazilian wunderkind Gabriel Medina was proving that he could do more than airs, executing some powerful turns on his backhand.

With just minutes remaining, Melling found himself in fourth. His patience paid off with an open-faced set-wave and he put every inch of the wave to use, laying down four big hits for a 9.33 and first place. Seabass would finish third.

After the horn sound, with all his teammates and fans cheering on the shoreline, the emotion – and exhaustion – were obvious on Melling’s face. Once again, he’d revived his career.

As if Oakley hadn’t had enough success early on in Hawaii, 17-year-old Koa Smith was named the Triple Crown Rookie of the Year.

With his back-to-back finals, Zietz received one of the wildcard spots in the Billabong Pipeline Masters. He’s currently the commanding favorite to win the Triple Crown.

“I just found out that Andy Irons was the only surfer to ever get three finals in a row (at the Triple Crown), so hopefully I can do that and put my name next to Andy’s and that would be a dream come true,” the young Hawaiian said.

The third and final event for the Triple Crown season begins Saturday.