Though we're huddled up in our Southern California offices at the moment, the 2009/2010 North Shore season is upon us (our North Shore correspondent Flynn Novak is already witnessing the influx of annual visitors). A few notable swells have already awoken the behemoth breaks along the 7-mile miracle from their off-season slumber, so cue the 2009 Vans Triple Crown of Surfing!
The Triple Crown is a series where pro surfing careers can be made or broken. Guys on the cusp of qualifying for the World Championship Tour (WCT) can either feed of the adrenaline or crumble under the pressure—both instances occur every year. Stakes and testosterone levels will be raised even higher considering Vans upped the total prize purse for their Triple Crown to one-million US Dollars via the Triple Crown – Triple Threat (an extra $50Gs to the Men's Triple Crown winner, an extra $50Gs for the Pipe Masters winner, a $50Gs bonus for the ASP Men's World Champ, and a $25Gs bonus to the Women's Triple Crown Champ).
The Men's Reef Hawaiian Pro and the Women's Vans Hawaiian Pro will kickoff the Triple Crown festivities this Thursday, November 12 at the hallowed break of Haleiwa. As well, it looks like a spurt of north swell could grace the opening day of the events (for the swell forecast for Haleiwa head to MagicSeaweed).
It's the f-king Triple Crown of Surfing people, so get amped up, watch all the events live at triplecrownofsurfing.com, check out our event previews and winner picks below, and feel free to start some arguments in the comments over whose going to take the crowns this year. North Shore season has arrived.—Ryan Brower
Nov. 12-23, ASP WQS 6*PRIME
Wave forecast: magicseaweed.com/Haleiwa-Surf-Report/660/
Last year Tahitian Michel Bourez took the win at Haleiwa to solidify himself a spot on this year's World Tour. On the right swell, Haleiwa is a prime North Shore spot for high-performance despite the infamous "Toilet Bowl" on the inside. Look for bubble boys like Dusty Payne, Sebastian Zietz, and company to start the final leg off strong.
Nov. 24-Dec. 6, ASP 6*PRIME Wave forecast: magicseaweed.com/Sunset-Beach-Surf-Report/657/
2008's Sunset event saw massive surf surge through Sunset Beach. One of the most complex and punishing breaks on the North Shore, Sunset can continually cause problems for competitors. But for those who have it dialed, it can be one of the most illustrious waves around. CJ Hobgood took tops honors last year, and watch out for guys like Joel Parkinson, Makua Rothman, and Hank Gaskell who have all had success here.
Dec. 8-20, final ASP World Tour event
Wave forecast: magicseaweed.com/Pipeline-Surf-Report/616/
This is where titles get settled. The ultimate proving grounds. Last chances to shit or get off the pot all come down to Pipe. Last year Kelly wowed everyone with his asymmetrical boards in 6-8 foot Backdoor. This year there's a different story than redefining board shape and size: a clash between two longtime mates in the pursuit of a World Title, Joel Parkinson and Mick Fanning. Don't worry though, we'll get into this one with a bit more depth as it gets closer.
Nov. 12-23 Wave forecast: magicseaweed.com/Haleiwa-Surf-Report/660/
2008's Haleiwa event saw 'Coco Gate'—Coco Ho's infamous air-in-the-face-interference on Layne Beachley in the final to allow fellow Hawaiian Carissa Moore to capture the victory and title of youngest Triple Crown event winner ever. Whether it was accidental or intended, it is what it is. This year Coco's got Rookie of the Year in her path and a World Title/Triple Crown in the side view mirror. And Carissa has qualified for the ASP Women's World Tour already, so it's going to be a good showing once again at Haleiwa.
Nov. 24-Dec. 6, ASP Women's World Tour event
Wave forecast: magicseaweed.com/Sunset-Beach-Surf-Report/657/
This is the second to last event on the Women's World Tour schedule. With only 600 points separating number one Steph Gilmore (2008's Sunset winner) with number two Silvana Lima, the Gidget Pro will be playing host to some very decisive heats this year.
Dec. 8-20, final ASP Women's World Tour event Wave forecast: magicseaweed.com/Honolua-Bay-Surf-Report/697/ The only Triple Crown event NOT held on the North Shore (or even Oahu for that matter). Honolua Bay has been described by four-time World Champ Mark Richards as "the ultimate wave; the best wave in the world." The iconic right-hand point will play host to the final ASP Women's World Tour event and be the decider for 2009 titles.
TransWorld SURF Triple Crown Picks
Men's Winner: Last year, Dusty Payne got rookie of the year and made a pretty big statement. I'd say he's up for winning the whole enchilada, but there's one other dude I think will be in his way: Andy Irons. Andy will win the Triple Crown, mark my words.
Women's Winner: Hands down, Coco Ho will be the women's winner and the women's rookie of the year.
Men's Winner: Parko. He may not win the world title this year, but he'll get his second triple crown in a row for consolation.
Women's Winner: I'll say Steph takes it, she won two of the three women's comps in hawaii last year, seems like a done deal again this year.
Men's Winner: This is a needle in the haystack type pick because it seems so wide open. If he does them, I think Mick Fanning because he loves Hawaii and Hawaiian waves.
Women's Winner: For the ladies, I'm gonna say Coco Ho because she's destined to rule the home turf like her dad and uncle…Go Coco!
Men's Winner: Assuming he’s in it (he has to be, right?) big ol’ Pancho Sullivan will win the 2009 Vans Triple Crown. He’s untouchable at Sunset, grew up in the Haleiwa shorebreak, and could surf Pipe and Backdoor blindfolded. The guys on the WCT are gonna be in for a real battle when they draw Pancho in a heat!
Women's Winner: Hmmm. Let’s see, the women’s events are all held in rights (Sunset, Haleiwa, and Honolua Bay) so my theory is that Alana Blanchard’s frontside bottom turns while clad in the teeniest of bikinis will do the trick. Sex sells, baby.
Men's Winner: AI. Rested and ready to kick ass after his year hiatus. Wants to make a statement and his presence felt well before the 2010 Tour starts. Plus with so many Triple Crowns under his belt already he's no stranger to the podium.
Women's Winner: Steph Gilmore. She just has a knack for winning everything…
Men's Winner: After narrowly beating Parko last year for the Triple Crown, Dusty Payne's time is now. He wants this thing bad. Dusty will win the Triple Crown, which will also give him enough WQS points to qualify for 2010. Crusty.
Women's Winner: Coco Ho has had an incredible rookie season already, and she's going to cap it off with some strong showings on her home turf. This year will be her first of many Triple Crowns as she adds to the family total. And don't be surprised if she puts up a good fight for the Women's World Title either…