Vans Triple Crown Of Surfing–Stop 1: $125,000 Vans Hawaiian Pro — men’s 6-star WQS event $62,500 Roxy Pro — women’s WCT event

Curren Back In The Limelight Three-time World Champ Won His Last Major Title Here In 1991.

Honolulu, Hawaii (Friday, Nov. 12, 2004) – In celebrating its 20th anniversary, the $125,000 Vans Hawaiian Pro is older than many of its participants. Yet today’s opening-day highlight came from one of surfing’s all-time greats, who purchased his first surfboard here in Haleiwa more than 30 years ago, for just $10.

Now 40 years of age, three-time world champion Tom Curren (California) reached his first final at Haleiwa in 1981. While the price of a surfboard is a quantum leap from what it was back then, Curren’s surfing skill has stood the test of time and he remains one of the most stylish surfers on the planet to this day.

A Vans Hawaiian Pro champion in 1991 – his last major victory, his form today was trademark Curren style – poised, effortless, and buttery smooth. While he placed second in his round one heat behind 21-year-old Daniel Ross (Australia), he advanced to round two with one of the highest wave scores of the day – a 7.5 point ride out of a possible 10. Ross, a former Australian Junior Champion, finished with the highest single wave score of the day of 8.83 – an honor he shared with local Hawaii surfer Mikala Jones.

Curren – world champion in 1985, ’86 and ’90, has received a start in all three of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing events on the North Shore of Oahu this winter. The Vans Hawaiian Pro is the first event of the Series, to be followed by the O’Neill World Cup of Surfing (Sunset Beach, Nov.26-Dec.7), and the Rip Curl Pro Pipeline Masters (Pipeline, Dec.8-20). While Curren won a total of 33 major during the peak of his professional career, he has never won a Triple Crown title.

Conditions for the early heats of round one were excellent. A perfect peak offering both lefts and rights pumped consistently with wave face heights hitting eight feet. Curren’s 7.5 ride was a peeling right-hander that offered a succession of sharp, top-to-bottom turns and a tube-ride on the final section.

“Just getting a start in the Triple Crown is good,” said Curren. “I’m kind of doing it for fun but there are a lot of reasons why I’m here. But mostly I enjoy it, that’s probably the biggest reason.

“It’s very competitive. There are a lot of really good surfers, they’re really strong paddlers and the level is really high. This is only the first round and obviously there’s going to be a lot better surfing coming up.

“I nearly lost that first heat. It’s not easy. You have to want to win and you have to kind of fight for it. As long as you really want to win, then I think it’s possible. Who knows how long I’ll be able to put on a jersey against these kids. For the moment it’s fun and I’m going to try to keep doing better.

“I’m 40. I took quite a long break (from the tour) I guess. I don’t know how good I’m going to do obviously, but I think experience does count for something, having the right boards and being stoked on being out there.

“Haleiwa is a really special place for me. I actually learned how to surf here, I bought my first surfboard for $10 right here, so there’s a little sentimental value, for sure.”

Local surfer Mikala Jones was the top Hawaii surfer today, with a total of 13.63 out of 20. His point total was the second-highest overall today, behind Australia’s Bede Durbidge.

“It was off-shore with a couple of barrels this-morning,” said Jones. “It’s real nice to be competing at home in Hawaii. All the heats are stacked – 6-man heats, so just cross your fingers and catch the best wave you can.

“My best wave sort of stood up, I got a little foamy barrel and I came out, then the section doubled up. I was really deep and I just pulled in. I wasn’t sure if I could make it – I was just looking out of the hole at the end of the wave and then I came flying out.”

Durbidge, today’s top scorer with a total of 15.17, is eyeing down a spot in the coveted Top 45 World Championship Tour WCT) for 20005. Having already won a 6-star WQS event in Europe earlier this year, Durbidge has climbed from relative obscurity – ranked 65th on the WQS last year, to a current ranking of 11th, on the cusp of joining surfing’s elite. His low ranking coming into the season means that he must compete from the very first round of the Vans Hawaiian Pro. If he is to reach the final, he will have to make it through a total of six rounds. The powerful Australian natural-footer will next meet Californian Top 45 surfer Pat O’Connell, Kirk Flintoff (Australia), and Rodrigo Dornelles (Brazil) in round two. Flintoff is also looking for a strong showing that could see him also enter next year’s WCT Top 45.

Competition was halted after heat 10 of the first round of men’s competition today, when conditions deteriorated after on-shore winds hit the venue. The first round of the women’s Roxy Pro was slated to start in the afternoon, but will wait for the next day of competition. The Roxy Pro is a $62,500 women’s World Championship Tour event that will likely result in the crowning of the women’s world champion. The Vans Hawaiian Pro is a 6-star prime WQS event that will have major baring on next year’s WCT lineup.

The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing is made possible through the support of a partnership of the world’s leading brands and media companies including: Ford Trucks, G-Shock, O’Neill, Rip Curl, Surfing Magazine, Oahu’s Turtle Bay Resort, The Honolulu Advertiser and Fox Sports Net.