Professional surfing’s most prestigious and coveted titles are once again on-the-line at the 2006 Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, due to take place on Oahu’s famed North Shore from 12th Nov – 20th Dec 2006.
Along with the prestigious Vans Triple Crown of Surfing championships for men and women, the $710,000 Series will determine the women’s Association of Surfing Professional’s (ASP) world title, participants on the 2007 World Qualifying Series (WQS) and World Championship Tour (WCT), and the world’s best tube rider at the infamous Banzai Pipeline.
While recently crowned world champ Kelly Slater (Florida) sets his sights on Vans Triple Crown history, Australia’s Layne Beachley, Melanie Redman-Carr and reigning world champion Chelsea Georgeson wage a fierce battle for the women’s world title and big wave supremacy at Sunset Beach.
Decorated veterans like Rochelle Ballard (Hawaii) and Jake Paterson (AUS) find themselves on the proverbial bubble; in danger of falling off the elite WCT. Upset-minded Californians Timmy Reyes and Bobby Martinez eye top 10 finishes and a “changing of the guard” while 14 year-old John John Florence looks to build upon last year’s much ballyhooed Triple Crown debut.
The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing hosts the final men’s and women’s WQS and WCT contests at Hawaii’s most renowned and challenging big wave venues. Providing the ultimate test of these world-class athlete’s skill and competition level, the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing title is considered to the sport of surfing what Wimbledon is to tennis, the Masters to golf and the Indianapolis 500 to auto racing.
Makua Rothman and Kalani Chapman split a peak to make it to the main event last year
“With Kelly Slater’s dominance on the World Tour and the title wrapped up, the question remains can he carry that momentum into Hawaii for another Triple Crown title as well,” said Randy Rarick, Executive Director for the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing.
“Plus, maybe for the first time ever the women’s title race is even more exciting than the men’s, with Sunset Beach once again being a pivotal point in Layne Beachley’s quest for a seventh world title. Any way you look at it, the North Shore winter of 2006 is going to be an exciting one!”
The six cumulative competitions include the final six-star rated men’s (Op Pro Hawaii: Nov 12-22nd and O’Neill World Cup: Nov 24th–Dec 6th) and women’s (Op Pro Hawaii: Nov 12–22nd) World Qualifying Series (WQS) events. The elite World Tour concludes with the final men’s (Rip Curl Pro Pipeline Masters: Dec 8-20th) and women’s (Roxy Pro: Nov 24th–Dec 6th and Billabong Pro Maui: Dec 8–19th) WCT’s.
Reinvigorated this year, the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing title for women showcases the world’s top pro female surfers in their own back-to-back WCT events and a six-star WQS event that run concurrently with the men’s Series.
The women begin with the $30,000 Op Pro Hawaii, the finale of the 2006 World Qualifying Series, followed by the $67,500 Roxy Pro’s return to Sunset Beach (a venue that Beachley has dominated) with the penultimate WCT. The women’s Vans Triple Series concludes with the $67,500 Billabong Pro Maui at Honolua Bay.
While the drama for the 2006 Vans Triple Crown and World titles unfold, another battle will rage among athletes attempting to qualify and re-qualify for the 2007 WCT. Of the 44 surfers seeded onto the elite World Tour, only the top 28 will qualify via the WCT (for the women, it’s 11 of the Top 16). The remaining slots are allocated through the World Qualifying Series. This makes the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing a do-or-die for many surfers.
Bruno Santos’ scoring high in last year’s event
No other sport on the planet boasts a playing surface that is as ever changing as the ocean on Hawaii’s North Shore. Huge winter swells that descend upon the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing have traveled thousands of miles through the open ocean — driven by massive storms and typhoons –only to abruptly clash with the shallow reefs of the North Shore. Massive volumes of water are hurled shoreward with tremendous force, creating the potential for destruction and mayhem.
Heightening interest in the Triple Crown this year, the buzz from the Islands is the latest El Nino phase, promising a bigger, more frequent stack of winter surf episodes than usual.
On the music side, the festivities officially kick off with the Op Pro Hawaii North Shore Makahiki music and cultural festival while Pearl Jam performs during the first week of the Pipeline Masters (in concert with U2) and no doubt doing something with their surfing friends. Business-wise, the North Shore just experienced its busiest summer on record and expectations are high for the winter season.
The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing is made possible through the support of Op, O’Neill, Rip Curl, Roxy, Billabong, Surfing Magazine, Oahu’s Turtle Bay Resort, Hawaiian Airlines, G-Shock, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, FUEL TV, and Road Runner High Speed Online.
To learn more about the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, check out: www.triplecrownofsurfing.com