With Kelly Slater now retired, the best competing surfer on the planet today is named Vincent Sennen Garcia III, but you can call him Sunny. Lest you get the wrong idea, "Sunny" applies to the current pro-tour ratings leader in the same way enormous pig farmers tend to be called "Tiny." The 30-year-old Oahu native—who rides into this November's Triple Crown of Surfing, a series of three contests on Oahu's North Shore, with his sights set on his first world title—describes his surfing style as that of a "big ogre," and his tenacity and temper have earned him a reputation as a prickly character: After a final-round loss to Australian Mick Campbell in July's Bluetorch Pro at Huntington Beach, California, he blasted the Aussie for characterizing American surfers as pathetic. "If we're all pathetic," he told reporters, "I'd hate to see what he sees when he looks in the mirror."
Chalk it up to competitive overdrive. "I hate losing," says Garcia. "Plain and simple, I just like to beat people." He's been doing that for years—Garcia joined the pro tour at 16 and hasn't finished out of the top ten for a decade—but this season he's finally giving the whole field a whupping: At press time, he was leading the rankings. This month, he will apply his ferocious drive to the sport's final showdown. He can't wait. "Eight feet at Backdoor Pipeline, offshore, northwest swell—that's my perfect wave," he says. "In the world of surfing, unless you've done something in Hawaii, you haven't really done anything."