Monday 19 March 2018 / 11:49 AM


The first event of the Vans Triple Crown is in full swing.

The Hawaiian Pro 2016 marks the start of Hawaii’s winter and has brought together the worlds’ top competitive surfers. Worth 10,000 points, no other QS event puts surfers through their paces quite like the Hawaiian Pro.

Held at Haleiwa, gateway to Oahu’s famed North Shore, the conditions are often demanding. Entered by all the top CT surfers as well as being one of the final events of the year, surfers are vying for the esteemed Triple Crown title but also scrambling for Qualifying points.

After decades of competing in the Vans Triple Crown, Hawaiian legend Sunny Garcia paddled into what he said will be his final crack at the competition. The former world champion and six-time winner of the prestigious event failed to get the points he needed to progress coming third in his Round 1 heat, losing to Tom Whitaker and Diego Mignot.

Day two of competition provided quite the show with a 20-foot face swell. The double overhead waves were the largest conditions recorded for an event at the infamous spot and provided an exciting backdrop for the competition.

However, despite the decrease in swell, it was yesterday’s Round 3 which had everyone’s attention. With the top CT surfers entering the mix, all eyes were on current world title holder John John Florence and the legendary Kelly Slater, who are both gunning for a Pipemasters win and the Triple Crown title.

“Winning Pipe would really top my year off,” Florence said.

“Winning the Triple Crown and Pipe would really do it for me.”

With the pressure of a world title win now off his shoulders, John John’s clearly relaxed and having fun, which was evident with his heat victory against former Vans Triple Crown champion and Hawaiian Pro winner Sebastian Zietz, fellow Hawaiian Torrey Meister and Australia’s Dion Atkinson.

Already making it clear he won’t let the John John landslide of 2016 without a fight, Slater came out strong with a nine-point wave to kick off his first Hawaiian Pro entry in four years.

“More than anything I want to win Pipeline,” Slater said.

“Triple Crown is second to that. To me, Pipeline is the one you want to win of any contest in the world, that or The Eddie.

“That’s going to be where my focus is. But if I can do well in these first two events and then have a shot at Pipe, obviously if you win any of these contests, Triple Crown is in the conversation.”

While eyes were on the top dogs, it was a surprising 9.93 ride from QS surfer Griffin Colapinto which stole the show.

The 18-year-old nailed a Hail Mary air reverse on a close-out in the last second of his heat. Jumping from third to first, the young gun knocked Tanner Gudauskas out of the competition and beat CT favourite Jordy Smith.

“That was such a big heat with so many big guys, everyone was pretty much on the CT in that heat,” Colapinto said.

“I thought I was doing good to start and then I needed a big score and then I just made it happen I guess.

“I’ve got the most confidence in the world right now. I just beat Jordy Smith, he’s one of my favourite surfers, I always love watching him surf before I go free surf, like in Modern Collective, so to beat him at a good wave feels really good.”

Day four of competition will provide plenty of action with only 34 surfers left and plenty of room for upsets – as per the Hawaiian Pro tradition.

[YouTube – World Surf League]

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