Producer, Photographer, and Editor: Justyn Ah Chong
Every winter the world’s surfing community flocks to Oʻahu’s North Shore for the prestigious Vans Triple Crown of Surfing competition, bringing together the most elite surfers from around the globe to vie for the coveted crown.
“The North Shore of Hawaiʻi and the big waves here in Hawaiʻi have always been the ultimate proving ground for surfers around the world for generations. And winning the triple crown is as significant as winning a world title,” says Marty Thomas, managing director of the Vans Triple Crown.
The Triple Crown is comprised of 3 events at three unique surfing breaks over a six-week period, explains Thomas.
“First off we have Haleiwa, which is the Reef Hawaiian Pro and here at Sunset is the Vans World Cup of Surfing and then we have the Pipeline Masters at the Banzai Pipeline. The Pipeline Masters decides the world champion, and the Reef Hawaiian Pro and the Vans World Cup are very important for qualifying surfers, younger surfers coming up through the ranks to try to qualify for the world tour.”
In recent years, with the efforts of the Hawaii Pro Surfers Union, the ASP (Association of Surfing Professionals) has been able to give more local surfers that career chance.
“In addition to international surfers from all over the world competing in this event, we have a guaranteed of 32 local spots given to local surfers here from Hawaii,” explains Thomas.
And many of these local spots are being filled by the young, up and coming generation.
According to Liam McNamara of the Hawaiʻi Pro Surfers Union, Hawaiʻi has about 6 junior surfers that are under 20 years old competing this year, which it’s the first time we’ve ever had that many juniors competing. We’re going through a transition right now…and we’re really trying to support our future surfers.
“This is my first year in the Triple Crown so I’m just happy to be here. It feels good just to get in. This is basically like the biggest event for surfing in Hawaii,” exclaims Ezekiel Lau, a young, Hawaiʻi-born surfer.
And while surfing has gained worldwide popularity, McNamara acknowledges Hawaiʻi remains at the forefront. “Itʻs like no other region, surfing was started here in Hawaiʻi, this is the birthplace, this is where careers are made and broken.”
“A good result here will give you prize money, it’ll give you international rating points, but it’ll also give you recognition within the surf industry, which will give you sponsors. So by doing well here you move on and pursue a career in surfing,” remarked Thomas.
According to McNamara,”There’ll be a lot of careers on the line and they’re gonna have to perform at this event here at sunset and then their last chance to keep their spot on the world tour will be decided at pipeline. So pray for surf and support the Hawaiian surfers, come out and check out the pipe masters cuz it’s the Super bowl of surfing it’s where you wanna be.”
As the Vans World Cup of Surfing at Sunset comes to a close, get ready for the thrilling action to continue at Pipeline where the world’s elite will compete in the last leg of the Triple Crown.
Congratulations to this yearʻs Vans Triple Crown champion Hawaʻi’s John John Florence!