The 2004 Vans Triple Crown Of Surfing, Sunny and the boys clean up.

The 2004 Vans Triple Crown Of Surfing
Sunny and the boys clean up.

As he watched the final seconds tick away to end the 2004 Rip Curl Pro Pipeline Masters, the proud look in Mick O’Brien’s eyes said everything.

His only son, twenty-one-year old Jamie, had won the Masters, Sunny Garcia grabbed his sixth Triple Crown by the throat, Bruce Irons had requalified for the WCT, and Kalani Robb had his highest career ‘CT placing at Pipe.

From the airlines that charge exorbitant fees for surfboards to the North Shore residents who charge five bucks for parking to Carl Kam, the owner of the venerable Kammie’s Market, Triple Crown season is a financial boon to the North Shore of O’ahu—estimates put the dollar amount of revenue to O’ahu at a whopping ten million dollars. Says Mr. Kam of the season: “Oh man, it’s so busy this time of year. This is when I make all of my money! Do you want a hot dog?

The Vans Hawai’ian Pro

It’s generally understood that you don’t mess with Sunny Garcia—especially at Hale’iwa, the break where he first surfed a contest at the age of eight. Sunny, who weighs probably 30 pounds more than the average WQS or WCT competitor, absolutely dominated “his break during the twentieth running of the Hale’iwa contest.

“I’ve had a long relationship with this wave, it’s for sure my favorite wave, said the 2000 World Champ. “Last year I was starting to doubt myself after two knee surgeries, so it’s nice to be winning again.

Sunny started off the final slowly and was the last of the four surfers (WQS contests have four man heats) to catch a wave, but when he finally did it was a smoker, and got him an 8.17. After his first ride, the 209-pound regularfoot waited patiently for another high scoring opportunity, which came in the form of a wedging six-footer. Sunny belted the lip, carved up the face, and beat the wave into submission like it had been checking out his wife for a 8.57.

None of the other finalists (Australian Phil MacDonald, Brazilian Bernardo Pigmeu, and Bruce Irons) had a chance after Sunny’s two waves and the big man had a running start to his record breaking sixth Triple Crown.

Official Results For The Vans Hawai’ian Pro At Hale’iwa

1. Sunny Garcia (HAW) $15,000
2. Phil MacDonald (AUS) $8,000
3. Bernardo Pigmeu (BRZ) $6,000
4. Bruce Irons (HAW) $4,000

The O’Neill World Cup Of Surfing

And then there was Andy.

While it wouldn’t be fair to say the champ was resting on his laurels, AI was pretty much in cruise mode after sealing his third straight World Title in Brazil, the tour’s last stop before Hawai’i.

And why not? After a disappointing early round loss at Hale’iwa, Andy’s name was hardly mentioned in Triple Crown title talk. But there’s one thing everyone should know about AI—just like Slater, don’t ever count him out. And because the Triple Crown title is given to the combined highest placing surfer in three events, he shouldn’t have been counted out with Sunset and Pipe remaining.

While the early rounds were contested in the Sunset we’re all used to seeing—ten-to-twelve and deadly, the final was held as the swell faded and was surfed at Sunset Point, which is where the waves break when the swell drops below six foot.

The final was a glimpse into the past, present, and future of professional surfing. Twenty-six year old Andy Irons was representing the present, 38 year old Mark Occhilupo was giving the older guys someone to cheer for, and Joel Parkinson and Fred Patacchia Jr., were the “groms of the final.

With two regular footers and two goofies in the mix, it was a perfect opportunity to see the contrast between backside and frontside surfing at what is considered one of the most challenging waves on the planet. Fred and Occy were going straight up and down, bashing the lip on average five times per wave while Andy and Parko looked for elusive barrels and carved roundhouse cutbacks.

In the end, however, it waasn’t even a right that won it for eventual champ Andy Irons. A rarely ridden left at Sunset offered up a quick tube and with Andy on his backhand, he milked it for all it was worth, weaving his way all the way inside to the break known as “Val’s Reef. The three time World Champ casually exited the water and headed straight for the podium and, because of Sunny’s early exit, back into Triple Crown contention.

Official Results Of The O’Neill World Cup Of Surfing

1. Andy Irons (HAW) $15,000
2. Mark Occhilupo (AUS) $8,000
3. Fred Patacchia Jr. (HAW) $6,000
4. Joel Parkinson (AUS) $4,000

The Rip Curl Pro Pipeline Masters

The Pipe Masters can be wrapped by saying three words: Wildcard Jamie O’Brien. For the third time in the history of the Pipe Masters, a wildcard won (Bruce Irons won in 2001, Johnny-Boy Gomes won in 1997). Jamie, who lives closer to the actual wave than the judges were positioned, used his innate local knowledge to take the final by storm. He had two incredible waves under his belt before another competitor in the four-man final (community regulations make it so the Masters has four man heats to speed up the comp) had even paddled for one.

Just like the N.F.L., the surfers had small microphones on their jerseys, and it provided some colorful fodder while the finalists waited. Sunny told Jamie he was taking them all out to dinner and they all made weird dolphin sounds—perhaps a wave call in dolphin-ese, as they all waited for a set that never really came. As time ticked away, the beachfront houses started to grow louder and louder until the entire beach was filled with teakettle whistles and hoots from the very pro-Hawai’ian crowd.

In terms of Hawai’ian surfing it was a clean sweep: Jamie won the Pipe Masters, Sunny snagged his sixth Triple Crown, Bruce Irons ensured that he’ll be on the ‘CT next year, and Kalani Robb solidified his position as one of Hawai’i’s best.

Official Results For The Rip Curl Pro Pipeline Masters

1. Jamie O’Brien (HAW) $30,0002. Sunny Garcia (HAW) $16,0003. Kalani Robb (HAW) $11,0004. Bruce Irons (HAW) $9,000