Haleiwa, HAWAII – (Sunday, November 19, 2006) – Challenging small wave conditions have been the great equalizer at Haleiwa’s Ali’i Beach Park this weekend for the $125,000 men’s Op Pro Hawaii, and the ocean offered no favoritism for local Hawaii surfers today. Over the past 21 years of this event, highly rated local surfers have been a force to be reckoned with, having grown up from small-kid times learning and competing at this exact break. But small waves of just two- to four-feet today turned out better results for visiting competitors from Australia and Brazil, who are born and raised on small beach-break surf.
It isn’t so much the physical challenge of riding low-power waves that has worked against the Hawaiians, but rather the mental challenge of riding waves that would normally be overlooked at this time of year. This has been the smallest surf that the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing has ever been held in its 24-year history.
Australian Dayyan Neve (Manly Beach, Sydney) has qualified this year for the 2007 elite World Championship Tour (WCT) and did so in waves very similar to those on offer at Haleiwa today. Totally at ease in the conditions and motivated to see out the year with a good result, Neve posted one of the top heat scores of the day (16 points out of a possible 20) in the fourth round to advance into tomorrow’s money rounds.
“There’s no doubt that every surfer here is physically prepared to surf well in these types of conditions,” said Neve, 28. “But it’s a matter of whether you’re mentally prepared. I’m sure that if you’re used to surfing here in good, big waves, these conditions could make you negative. But it’s no big change for me and I’m just giving it everything I’ve got.”
Hawaii lost a total of nine highly respected surfers during the course of the third and fourth rounds today: Randall Paulson, Kalani Chapman, Jason Shibata, Dustin Barca, Daniel Jones, former champion of this event Kaipo Jaquias (1998), Hank Gaskell, Evan Valiere, and Mason Ho.
Eight of 16 fourth round heats closed out the day’s competition and all but one were won by Australians and Brazilians: Leigh Sedley, Neve, Corey Ziems, Glenn Hall and Kai Otton from Australia, and Brazil’s Simao Romao and Rodrigo Dornelles. South Africa’s Jordy Smith won the last heat of the day.
“I had a pair of Brazilians in my heat and I knew that they would be going at it in these conditions,” continued Neve, “so I let them paddle each other deep while I sat wide and waited. Luckily it paid off for me.” Neve only rode the two mandatory waves in his heat, but with scores of 8.5 and 7.5, he at least doubled the scores of his three opponents.
Both competitors and organizers are looking forward to a forecast increase in swell size for tomorrow, when competition will resume with the entrance of the world’s top-ranked surfers, including 3-time world champion Andy Irons (Kauai, Hawaii). Two more days of competition remain to round out the Op Pro Hawaii.
The Op Pro Hawaii is the first stop on the annual Vans Triple Crown of Surfing Series that runs in its entirety from November 12 to December 20, on Oahu’s famous North Shore in Hawaii. The Op Pro Hawaii is a 6-star World Qualifying Series event for both men and women, collectively offering $155,000 and critical points towards qualifying for the elite World Championship Tour of 2007. The women’s division was won by Peru’s Sofia Mulanovich last week. For a complete list of today’s results, please go to: www.triplecrownofsurfing.com
The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing is made possible through the support of Op, O’Neill, Rip Curl, Roxy, Billabong, Surfing Magazine, Oahu’s Turtle Bay Resort, Hawaiian Airlines, G-Shock, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, FUEL TV, and Road Runner High Speed Online.
About Ocean Pacific (Op)
Founded more than three decades ago, Op was the first surfboard manufacturer to offer a full range of surfer products both in and out of the water. Today, Op sponsors world class sporting events, athletes, artists and musicians, and merchandise ranging from apparel and footwear to fragrances and accessories. Op, a division of The Warnaco Group Inc. (NASDAQ: WRNC), caters to an ever-growing worldwide youth culture by remaining true to its mission: to create quality products with authenticity and style.
Vans, Inc., a subsidiary of VF Corporation (NYSE: VFC), is a leading lifestyle brand for the youth market. Vans® collections, which include active and performance footwear, apparel and accessories, snowboard boots and bindings and the Pro-tec® line of protective gear, are sold in the United States through 150 company owned stores and factory outlets as well as independent retailers. Internationally, Vans sells its goods in approximately 50 countries through a network of distributors, sales agents and foreign offices. Vans supports and promotes the action sports lifestyle through such events as the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing"¢, the Vans Warped Tour"¢, and the Vans Cup at Tahoe"¢.
For more information on Vans, please visit www.vans.com.