- 13 November 2009 | Surfing
Eyes were on the waves but minds were on the money as the $1,000,000 Vans Triple Crown of Surfing presented by Rockstar Energy Drink hit the water with day one of the Reef Hawaiian Pro - an ASP men's 6-star prime World Qualifying Series event.
Subsequently, few people noticed that the bulk of the 10- to 12-foot NE swell wasn't making it around the corner into Haleiwa, and thousands lived it up in the bikini-strutting weather.
Haleiwa leveled the playing field today as visiting and local surfers met somewhere in the middle between international beach break conditions and the Hawaiian power expected here this time of year. Results were as mixed as the waves that ranged from five feet in the morning, to just a couple of feet before the event was halted around 2p.m. at heat 11 of the round of 128 surfers.
The earlier heats lucked out with offshore winds and punchier conditions. Maui's Granger Larsen nailed down the best of it, cranking out three powerful snaps to earn a 9.33, the highest scoring wave of the contest so far.
Fresh off a win from the XCEL Pro at Sunset Beach in massive surf, Hank Gaskell (Maui) channeled his momentum to push through the crumbly late afternoon conditions in heat nine and took down super-grom Nat Young (Santa Cruz, Ca.) with explosive surfing.
He sealed the deal with a frontside air reverse with just a few minutes remaining in the heat. Young answered back with fins-free surfing of his own with one minute remaining, posting a 7.10, but it wasn't enough to overtake second place Alain Riou (PYF).
"I'm just going one heat at a time. That's all that I can do," said Gaskell. "I'm not a real favorite to win the Triple Crown. I'm just trying to do my personal best.
"I'm stoked on Vans for offering the Triple Threat. Surfers are professional athletes and we all work hard and we're underpaid compared to other sports. I'm not complaining. I was making good money before I got dropped, but hopefully I'll get another sponsor (laughs). Surfing is a great sport and we deserve to get as much as any other professional sport."
Last year's Reef Hawaiian Pro Champion Michel Bourez (PYF) powered through his first heat of the day, taking down Richard Christie (NZ), and a pair of former Vans Triple Crown champions in Myles Padaca (HAW) and Kaipo Jaquias (HAW). But his run ended in the next round, losing to Hale'iwa resident Joel Centeio and James Taipan Wood (AUS), who took first and second, respectively.
"Last year was barreling, offshore and perfect," said Bourez, assessing today's conditions. "Today was mushy and small and most of the waves were lefts, so it was different. I just tried as hard as I could to score two good ones.
"The one million dollar prize purse is good for the sport," said Bourez. "It's the first time ever so everyone is excited to win the Triple Crown."
Round of 136: Results shown in order of 1st place through 4th. 1st & 2nd advance
H1: Sean Moody (HAW), Anthony Petruso (USA), Derek Ho (HAW), Makuakai Rothman (HAW)
H2: Michel Bourez (PYF), Richard Christie (NZ), Myles Padaca (HAW), Kaipo Jaquias (HAW)
H3: Solomon Ortiz (HAW), Izuki Tanaka (JPN), Daniel Jones (HAW), Kiron Jabour (HAW)
H4: Bruno Rodrigues (USA), Kamalei Alexander (HAW), Hira Terinatoofa (PYF), Love Hodel (HAW)
Round of 128
H1: Granger Larsen (HAW), Damien Fahrenfort (ZAF), Mason Ho (HAW), Nathan Carroll
H2: Alejo Muniz (BRA), Dylan Melamed (HAW), Sean Moody (HAW), Jarrad Sullivan (HAW)
H3: Lincoln Taylor (AUS), Jayke Sharp (AUS), Jean da Silva (BRA), Liam McNamara (HAW)
H4: Cory Lopez (FL), Brad Ettinger (USA), Anthony Petruso (USA), Paulo Moura (Brz)
H5: Evan Valiere (HAW), Nathan Edge (AUS), Diego Rosa (BRA), Blake Wilson (AUS)
H6: Joel Centeio (HAW), James Taipan Wood (AUS), Michel Bourez (PYF), Marco Giorgio (URY)
H7: Andre Silva (BRA), Luke Campbell (AUS), Masatoshi Ohno (JPN), Kevin Sullivan (HAW)
H8: Raoni Monteiro (BRA), Marco Farney (BRA), Richard Christie (NZ), Jay Davies (AUS)
H9: Hank Gaskell (HAW), Alain Riou (PYF), Nat Young (AUS), Hugo Savalli (REU)
H10: Gavin Gillette (HAW), Heath Joske (AUS), Mark Matthews (AUS), Solomon Ortiz (HAW)
H11: TJ Barron (HAW), Jason Shibata (HAW), Hizunome Bettero (BRA), Charlie Brown (BRA)