Pipe Masters Undergoes Format Change

A dramatic format change andrecord prize purse will lure the very best of the Association of Surfing Professionals(ASP) Top 44 to challenge Pipeline’s elite for the title of world’s best tube rider at the$150,000 Xbox Gerry Lopez Pipeline Masters, December 8 to 21.

The final jewel in the2001 Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, the Xbox Pipeline Masters is held at Hawaii’s famedNorth Shore big wave venue, Banzai Pipeline, and determines the Vans Triple Crown ofSurfing Champion.

[IMAGE 1] The prestigious event celebrates its 31st anniversary this winterand a return to network television, airing on NBC Sports in early 2002.

It is the wave of every surfer’s dreams – even those who can only hope to master it intheir dreams. It is the most recognizable surf spot on the planet because of both theaquamarine wall of water spinning into liquid barrels that crash onto razor-sharp coral,and the name: Banzai Pipeline.

Just 100 feet offshore, swells that have traveled more than 2,000 miles to end inspectacular fashion on a shallow reef will rise up to five stories high before tumblinginto hollow tubes that will send surfers hurtling toward shore at breath-stoppingspeeds.

According to Randy Rarick, Vans Triple Crown of Surfing executive director, ridingthese tubes has long been considered the most specialized and ‘amazing’ skill in thesport of surfing. And while the ASP World Tour format had precluded some of thePipeline specialists in prior years, the Xbox Pipeline Masters new “Champions ofChampions” format frees the world’s most famous surfing venue to crown the world’sbest tube rider.

“With the ASP designating this a “Champions of Champions” specialty event, the Xbox Pipeline Masters returns to the original essence of the event,” said Rarick. “The very best of the ASP competitors will be matched up against Pipeline specialistsand we’ll see probably the most intense tube riding action of the past decade!”

A selection committee, comprised of contest officials, previous champions, “select”Pipeline invitees and surf photographers, will issue invitations by October 1. Theinnovative 48-man field will showcase the eight World Championship Tour (WCT)winners, eight select WCT Top 44 including Shane Dorian, Kalani Robb, Sunny Garcia andAndy Irons and eight previous Pipeline champions such as Kelly Slater, Rob Machado,Derek Ho and Tom Carroll.

The remainder of the field will be made up of Pipeline aficionados and hot local talentsuch as Tamayo Perry, Liam McNamara, Bruce Irons and Braden Dias, along with topcompetitors from Australia, Brazil, Japan, Tahiti and other countries. The competitionformat will follow standard WCT rules, with man-on-man heats following round one.

Californian Phil Edwards first paddled into Pipeline’s power and majesty in the early’60s, followed by the first surfer recognized as “Mr. Pipeline”, Butch Van Artsdalen,who proved man and surfboard could disappear into the hollow space between waveand cascading crest and exit alive. And ever since contest namesake, Hawaiian GerryLopez, a two-time event champion, added his unique style to riding Pipeline in the late’60s and early ’70s, this strip of sand on the North Shore of Oahu has been theultimate test for the world’s best surfers.

Even today, with adventurers exploring every break on every remote island on theglobe, Pipeline is a surfers’ Mecca, the proving grounds where the sports’ greatesthave soared to unseen new heights and also had their dreams pummeled in anexplosion of whitewater on coral reef.

The 2001 Vans Triple Crown of Surfing features the final World Qualifying Series (WQS),World Championship Tour (WCT) and Specialty events on the pro surfing calendar, fromNovember 12 to December 21. The overall Vans Triple Crown champion is decided onpoints accumulated during competition in the $100,000 G-Shock Hawaiian Pro at AliiBeach Haleiwa, November 12-25, the $250,000 Rip Cup at Sunset Beach, November 26- December 7, and thee Xbox Pipeline Masters.

The Vans Triple Crown Series events will be the year’s final battleground for a numberof pro surfers who are fighting to stay on the WCT for 2002, or competitors hoping toascend to the Top 44 for the first time. Viewers from around the world will also beable to catch the series on NBC Sports and Fox Sports Net.

The Vans Triple Crown Series features the world’s top athletes competing in threechampionship events in each of the following sports: Skateboarding, Wakeboarding,Surfing, Snowboarding, BMX and Freestyle Motocross. The Series is made possiblethrough proud sponsors Xbox, Mountain Dew, Ford Ranger, Right Guard Xtreme Sport,G-Shock, Rolling Stone, Fox Sports Net, Transworld Publications and NBC Sports.

Vans (Nasdaq: VANS) is a leading worldwide brand for Core Sportsàƒ,à‚„¢ specializing inperformance and lifestyle footwear, apparel, snowboard boots and bindings. Itscontributions to Core Sports include the Vans Triple Crownàƒ,à‚„¢ Series, the operation ofeight large-scale Vans Skateparks, the High Cascade Snowboard Campàƒ,à‚„¢ and continuedsponsorship of the Vans Warped Tour? and the Vans World Amateur SkateboardingChampionshipsàƒ,à‚„¢. Vans collections are sold in the United States through 146 companyowned stores and factory outlets as well as a network of independent retailers. Vansalso distributes to more than 50 countries internationally through distributors, salesagents and its subsidiaries in the United Kingdom, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina.

For more information on Vans and the Vans Triple Crown Series, please visitwww.vans.com.