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by James Dawson, staff writer

By the time you read this, the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing will be entering it’s second of three events. The Triple Crown, also known as the Super Bowl of Surfing is the final contest of professional surfing’s 2008 World Champion Tour (WCT), which stops annually at Hale‘iwa, Sunset Beach, and Pipeline on O‘ahu’s North Shore.

Each of the events has a two-week window, which allows contest directors to run the contest during the days of the best waves. For 26 years, the Triple Crown of Surfing has provided the communities of O‘ahu and surfing a spectacular show of exceptional waves and intense competition between the world’s best surfers.

However fierce this year’s competition might be, Kelly Slater has already clinched the world title for 2008, making this the ninth title throughout his illustrious career. Because the Triple Crown is held in Hawai‘i, there is a massive amount of pride amongst the entering Hawaiian surfers to win.

Five Hawaiian surfers are competing in the Triple Crown this season: Andy Irons, Bruce Irons, Roy Powers, Pancho Sullivan, and Fred Patacchia. The world title for this year has been claimed, but a Hawaiian surfer still has a chance to step up and claim the coveted “Crown.”

O‘ahu’s Sunny Garcia with six titles, Kaua‘i’s Andy Irons with three, and other numerous Hawaiian wins, shows that Hawaiian surfers have consistently held the Triple Crown tightly within their grips.
This year at Hale‘iwa kicked off with double overhead waves, glassy conditions, and partly sunny skies. The women’s division went out first, followed by the men’s. Surfers from 17 different countries are represented in the Triple Crown, and South Africa’s Jordy Smith has had the strongest start.
Smith, who earned 18 of 20 possible points in round three, said in a press release, “I definitely like big waves and I love coming here. It’s where a boy becomes a man and I’m in the transformation of that now.”

On Nov. 20, 16-year-old Carissa Moore from O‘ahu, won the Women’s division at Hale‘iwa with a little help from her friend, Coco Ho. Moore had a six-point lead as the heat drew close to an end. Layne Beachley, who had a chance to beat Moore’s score, was dropped in on by Ho in order to prevent Beachley from winning. In a press release, Moore said, “I was praying that Layne wouldn’t get one. I was really thankful that Coco ended up getting that one. I’m definitely thankful that she is one of my best friends.”

Tom Hamilton, father of Kaua‘i’s Bethany Hamilton, was happy to be on O‘ahu’s North Shore for the Triple Crown. Bethany Hamilton is the surfer who had her arm bitten off by a tiger shark while surfing on Kaua‘i in 2003.

For Hamilton, “It’s great to relax, and film Bethany for the weekend. I’m only here for two days, but it’s like a vacation to me.”

HPU students are also taking advantage of the Triple Crown. Freshman Charlotte Whitney said, “I love watching the Triple Crown. It’s great to go to the North Shore on a nice day and watch some good surfing with my friends. Plus, there are lots of hot guys.”

Less than an hour drive from anywhere on O‘ahu, the competition can be enjoyed any time during the day. Admission is free, but getting there earlier than later is necessary because parking on the North Shore fills up quickly, especially around contest time. Another option is to ride the bus. The 52 and 55 run past Pipeline and Sunset, making for “curbside” service.

The Sunset Beach competition begins on Nov. 24 and runs until Dec. 6. Sunset Beach is located on Kamehameha Highway, across from Ted’s Bakery. The final showdown of the Vans Triple Crown is the Pipeline Masters.

Arguably the most famous contest held at the most famous wave in the world, the Pipeline Masters, is the final stop for the Triple Crown and held Dec. 8 to Dec. 20. Pipeline is located in Ehukai Beach Park, across Sunset Elementary School.

If you cannot get to the beach due to any reason such as work or school, you can follow the events through a live stream at triplecrownofsurfing.com.



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