Vans Triple Crown of Surfing gets underway in Hawaii
The weather is beautiful; wish I were there.
The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing competition window opens today in Hawaii along a stretch of Oahu's north coastline often referred to as "the seven-mile miracle" because of its many outstanding surf spots.
In 20 years of covering surfing and the general outdoors beat for the Los Angeles Times, I've managed to attend this prestigious year-end series and witness the tribal gathering of hundreds of surfers from around the world a grand total of once.
But I saw Haleiwa breaking at 10 feet, Sunset at 15 feet and Pipeline at about 20 feet. I heard the swell arrive and start pounding the shore during the night, and witnessed some amazing surfing by the best in the world -- and even managed to catch a few waves myself.
But thank goodness for the Internet and webcasts, which will enable Outposts to provide updates during this year's $1-million series, which has lured more than 150 surfers from 17 nations. At stake, for men and women, are ASP World Tour championships and roster spots for next year's elite tours. Also up for grabs are the prestigious Triple Crown championships, won last year by Australia's Joel Parkinson and Stephanie Gilmore.
The men's series includes the Reef Hawaiian Pro (today through Nov. 23) at Haleiwa, the O'Neill World Cup of Surfing (Nov. 24-Dec. 6) at Sunset Beach, and the Billabong Pipeline Masters (Dec. 8-20) at the fabled Banzai Pipeline. The former two are ASP World Qualifying Series contests. The latter is a World Tour event that will decide who wins the 2009 world championship.
The women's contest lineup (same dates): Vans Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa, Gidget Pro at Sunset, and Billabong Pro Maui. The latter contest, held at Honolua Bay, will decide who wins the world title.
Australia's Mick Fanning (the ratings leader) and Parkinson are in a close battle on the men's side. Gilmore, Brazil's Silvana Lima and Peru's Sofia Mulanovich are dueling for the women's title, with Hawaii's Coco Ho in fourth.
Organizers will decide at 8 a.m. Hawaiii time whether to commence competition today.
-- Pete Thomas
Photo: Joel Parkinson of Australia endures a spectacular wipe-out during last year's O'Neill World Cup of Surfing at Sunset beach. Credit: Kelly Cestari/Covered Images
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