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Posted by Chase O'Briant | 12.13.2019 | Surf News

The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing Explained

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Holidays are an amazing time to reconnect with friends and family, and enjoy the company of loved ones, but what really gets us excited is something a little different from your usual holiday festivities. The final two months of the year hold surfing’s most legendary event of all time: The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. Three contests take place in the course of eight weeks, each at a different break on the legendary North Shore of Oahu. Why do we get so excited about these events? Well, of course part of it is we get so see tons and tons of huge waves ridden by the world’s best surfers , but what’s truly exciting about this event is the long history that accompanies it.

The first Vans Triple Crown was held on the North Shore of Oahu in the winter of 1983, when a former World Champion named Fred Hemmings created the three part event to showcase the world’s best surfers on the world’s best waves. Hemmings had already helped establish competitive surfing on Oahu by creating the Hawaiian Masters Contest in 1971, the first professional surf contest to be held on the there, but wanted to create a series separate from the championship tour circuit that would test the best athletes in Hawaiian surf. This winter marks the 35th year of the Vans Triple Crown of surfing, making it the oldest running event in surfing history.

Why is the event annually held in Hawaii? Well, simply put, Hawaiian surf is what separates the good surfers from the greats. In Hawaii the waves are bigger, faster, and much more dangerous than anywhere in the world. Former world champion and 6x Triple Crown Winner, Sunny Garcia, once said that in Hawaii, “You can either look like a lion or you can look like a kitten. I think a lot of guys look like kittens.” Sunny is saying that the North Shore is very much a proving ground, and the Vans Triple Crown visits the three prized jewels of the stretch of coastline; Haleiwa, Sunset Beach, and the Banzai Pipeline. Each wave is different from the next, as competing surfers visit first the quick, punchy bowl of Haleiwa, and then they move up the coast to the huge sloping faces of Sunset, and end the series in the deep, throaty barrels at Pipeline. Each wave offers a different opportunity to the competitors, and surfers who have their eyes on a Triple Crown Title will need to ensure that they have perfected every aspect of their surfing in order to succeed in each event. Not only are their surfing abilities put to the test in Hawaii, but also their mental composure as they take on the most powerful waves on the planet.

The last bit of excitement that comes out of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing is Championship Tour qualification. The first two events of the series are listed on the World Qualifying Series Circuit every year as the final two events worth 10,000 points each. We will explain the different tours and what these points mean in a blog coming soon, but in essence these events are the last opportunities for up and coming pros to break out of the Qualifying Series and graduate to the Championship Tour for a shot at a world title. With the first two events now complete, we offer huge congratulations to Quicksilver team surfer, Connor O’Leary, who has qualified for the 2020 Championship Tour via the Qualifying Series.

The final leg of the Triple Crown Series is underway. Remember the Hawaiian Masters contest? After it became recognized as one of the most mind blowing waves in the world, large surf companies began snatching up property along the beach in order to have a front row seat for this natural wonder. A few contests take place at Pipeline, but none hold as much importance as the Billabong Pipe Masters. The Pipe Masters decides who will take home the Vans Triple Crown, and also which surfer will be the year’s world Champion. A lot is at stake this month in the world of surfing, make sure you tune in for all of the action presented by the World Surf League, and you can decide who showed up a lion, and who went home a kitten.