Michel Bourez still leads the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing charge

John John Florence on the second day of the Billabong Pipe Masters. One more heat win and he takes the Vans Triple Crown points lead. Photo by Brent Bielmann/Surfing magazine

John John Florence on the second day of the Billabong Pipe Masters. One more heat win and he takes the Vans Triple Crown points lead. Photo by Brent Bielmann/Surfing magazine

The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing is billed as the next best thing to an ASP world title. It's the culmination of the three big surf contests held on the North Shore of Oahu every year—the Reef Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa, the Vans World Cup of Surfing at Sunset Beach, and the Billabong Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons, which is held at Pipeline. A surfer who can master these three challenging surfbreaks is considered a master of what is no doubt the toughest place in the world to conquer.

With that said, here's a look at who's in the running for surfing’s second-most sought after title…

Current Vans Triple Crown of Surfing rankings:
1. Michel Bourez (PYF) 8,500
2. Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 7,900
3. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 7,800
4. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 5,150
5. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 4,800
6. John John Florence (HAW) 4,100
7. Mick Fanning (AUS) 3,100
8. Yadin Nicol (AUS) 2,800

With Michel Bourez, Ezekiel Lau, and Fred Patacchia already eliminated from the Pipe Masters, there's a slim chance that Bourez will be able to hold on to that lead. Here's what needs to happen for another surfer to win:

-Jeremy Flores needs a fifth to overtake Bourez in the rankings
-John John Florence needs a third to surpass Bourez
-Sebastian Zietz needs a third to pass Bourez
-Yadin Nicol needs to win the Billabong Pipe Masters to overtake Bourez
-Mick Fanning needs a win to overtake Michel Bourez

The smart money has the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing title coming down to a fight between two surfers: John John Florence and Jeremy Flores. John John is already seeded into the quarterfinals, meaning if he makes it through that heat he has the lead. Flores needs to beat Miguel Pupo to seal a fifth place finish. Meanwhile, Bourez prays that everyone loses out, but if you saw Tuesday’s performances from Florence and Flores, you know that’s not going to happen.

The forecast is calling for a macking swell to hit the North Shore on Saturday, which means giant Pipeline barrels will determine the fate of the Vans World Cup of Surfing hopefuls as well as the 2013 ASP world champion. However the cards play out, it's going to be an epic finish to the year. Watch all the action unfold live at vanstriplecrownofsurfing.com.

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