Garcia Claims Fifth Triple Crown As Pipe trials Begin
Pipeline, Oahu-Hawaii (Saturday, Dec 9, 2000) World champion elect SunnyGarcia (Haw) today claimed an unprecedented fifth Vans Triple Crown ofSurfing title as the 30th anniversary Mountain Dew Gerry Lopez Pipe Mastersbegan. With clean 4-foot conditions at Pipeline this morning and theprospect of a rising swell luring organizers, the event commenced with tworounds of the trials before onshore winds forced the postponement ofremaining heats. Eight trialists survived the testing surf, though only twospots are on offer for the main event.
Garcia, 30, amassed enough ratings points nearly two months ago to securehis first ASP world title. He then entered Hawaiian waters last monthhunting a record breaking fifth Triple Crown. His G-Shock Hawaiian Pro winat Haleiwa during the first-of-three counting events set the pace, and onlyhe was able to match it the following tournament at Sunset Beach last week,where he won the Rip Curl Cup. By winning back-to-back Hawaiian events hematched a 13-year record set by Australian Gary Elkerton (1987), but hisgoal had yet to materialize. Fellow Hawaiian Kaipo Jaquias was stillmathematically in contention for the 2000 Vans Triple Crown of Surfingtitle.
Jaquias, 29, a former World Championship Tour (WCT) surfer with a greatrecord in Hawaii, today placed third in his opening match, however, andhanded Garcia the title with his elimination. Similar to how he had clinchedthe world title in Brazil this past October, Garcia again sat watching itall unfold. As well as the prestige that comes with the Triple Crown, healso won a Ford Ranger truck and US$7,500.
“I’m pretty stoked,” said a relaxed Garcia after hearing his opponent hadlost. “I saw the guys driving the truck this morning and told them, ‘makesure you polish that thing up good’ (laughs).
“My year has been good since winning last year’s Triple Crown,” hecontinued. “I then went on to win the Sunset Beach Shootout (ASP specialtyevent) and then the first two WCT events of the year. It’s been a long year,but it’s been a long good one that I’ve enjoyed.
“I’m feeling good,” he added, when asked about his chances at Pipeline – anevent he has yet won. “I’ve been staying here for the past six weeks, soI’ve been getting some good practice. Hopefully now that they’ve gotten thetrials out of the way they will be able to wait for better waves. It wasn’tas good as the guys would have liked it to be today, but hopefully it willbe better for the main event.”
While the trials did not finish today, some fantastic surfing still tookplace at Pipeline. With only two spots available, all 32-trialists wereanxious for the opportunity to meet the world’s top-44 rated surfers at thefamed location. Conditions made tube-riding more of a lottery than usual,but all those to advance into the semifinals found their fair share of goodrides.
Portuguese Tiago Pires continued his recent run of good fortune. The20-year-old began in fine form beating 1982 Pipe and 2000 World MastersChampion Michael Ho (Haw), and then repeated the result to advance into theupcoming semis. Although narrowly missing a spot in next year’s WCT circuit,Pires’ second place finish to Garcia at Sunset Beach last week provided hisspot in the trials and some consolation. Though relatively inexperienced atPipe, he showed no lack of ambition.
“This is my second time in a contest at Pipe,” Pires said after hisquarterfinal win. “I’m very happy to be in this contest. It’s very hard withall the Hawaiians, but I got lucky being chosen to compete at all. I’mreally stoked and I hope I do well.
“If I can get some good waves and some good scores I can make it, but it’scompetition,” he concluded. “Every heat is a heat, so you just have to seewhat happens.”
1998 world longboard champion Joel Tudor (USA) was another to advancethrough both rounds today. The stylish surfer was granted a wildcardposition in the trials by sponsor Vans, and rode his 7’6″ single finsurfboard ever so gracefully. While better known for his prowess onlongboards, Tudor proved once again his talent lies with great surfing, nomatter what length of board, as he posted the second highest total score ofthe day.
“It’s an honor just to even be in it,” said Tudor afterward. “It’s by farthe hardest contest to get into in the world, and I’m just the guy whohappened to get the sponsors’ spot.
“I felt like I did alright,” he continued. “Even though it wasn’t very goodout there, I feel I could have done the same thing if it was better. I’mhappy and just need to stay mellow and on the same program for the nextheat. I’m going to burn a board tonight and hope that the waves come uptomorrow.”
When asked about his decision to ride such a different kind of board fromall other competitors, Tudor responded; “It’s gets you in earlier (on waves)and gives you a different line. It looks completely different from the waythey surf, which at times is better. It’s nice to be the odd man out.”
Another to survive was 1998 Mountain Dew Pipeline Masters runner-up BruceIrons (Haw). Widely respected for his tube-riding skills and futuristicapproach, the 21-year-old put both to good use today at Pipe.
“You just had to deal with the conditions and go for turns and hopefullysneak in a barrel to make a heat,” said Irons. “I was just stoked to make itso far.
“I don’t want to say anything and jinx myself,” he continued, when askedabout his chances this year. “But I’ll definitely give it all I’ve got.”
A decision will be made each morning regarding the contest’s schedule, withmore information available on www.aspworldtour.com or www.swell.com.
Official Results of Mountain Dew Gerry Lopez Pipe Masters Trials Rounds
QF1: Tiago Pires (Port) 13.35; Carlos Cabrero (Prco) 13.20; Michael Ho (Haw)8.05; Rainos Hayes (Haw) 6.90
QF2: Roy Powers (Haw) 10.25; Pancho Sullivan (Haw) 9.00; Rob Page (Aus)7.40; Jamie O’Brien (Haw) 4.90
QF3: Joel Tudor (USA) 16.20; Braden Dias (Haw) 10.70; Love Hodel (Haw) 9.35;Mikala Jones (Haw) 6.35
QF4: Bruce Irons (Haw) 8.40; Tamayo Perry (Haw) 8.00; Derek Ho (Haw) 7.80;Zane Harrison (Aus) 5.00
Round One (first two advance)
H1: Tiago Pires (Port) 14.40; Michael Ho (Haw) 13.10; Isaac Kaneshiro (Haw)12.50; Jesse Merle Jones (Haw) 9.35
H2: Carlos Cabrero (Prco) 12.50; Rainos Hayes (Haw) 9.45; Jun Jo (Haw) 8.30;John Gomes (Haw) 5.90
H3: Roy Powers (Haw) 7.95; Pancho Sullivan (Haw) 7.40; Myles Padaca (Haw)6.25; Takayuki Wakita (Jpn) 4.80
H4: Jamie O’Brien (Haw) 15.90; Robe Page (Aus) 11.35; Kaipo Jaquias (Haw)4.90; Liam MacNamara (Haw) 2.40
H5: Mikala Jones (Haw) 15.75; Joel Tudor (USA) 14.55; Fred Patacchia (Haw)7.35; Mineto Ushikoshi (Jpn) 6.55
H6: Braden Dias (Haw) 25.25; Love Hodel (Haw) 19.90; Naohisa Ogawa (Jpn)14.75; Jason Shibata (Haw) 4.90
H7: Tamayo Perry (Haw) 11.85; Zane Harrison (Aus) 11.60; Brian Pacheco (Haw)7.80; Joey Buran (USA) 7.05
H8: Derek Ho (Haw) 9.55; Bruce Irons (Haw) 8.65; Sai Smiley (Haw) 4.80; PaulPaterson (Aus) 4.40
SF1: Tiago Pires (Port), Carlos Cabrero (Prco), Roy Powers (Haw), PanchoSullivan (Haw)
SF2: Joel Tudor (USA), Braden Dias (Haw), Bruce Irons (Haw), Tamayo Perry(Haw)