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Friday, November 12, 2004



[ SURFING ]


art
COURTESY OF ASPWORLDTOUR.COM
Andy Irons of Kauai is the reigning world champion and has won the Triple Crown of Surfing in each of the past two years .


Surfers home for
the holidays

Hawaii surfers will try to
defend both triple crown
titles

With the sport's elite taking the drop perhaps as soon this morning, the 22nd annual Vans Triple Crown of Surfing -- the most prestigious series in the sport -- begins today.

Surf forecasts were favorable for a start for the Vans Hawaiian Pro for the men, and/or the Roxy Pro for the women. Both events are being held at Haleiwa's Alii Beach Park on Oahu's North Shore, on the days with the best conditions between now and November 24.

Men's Triple Crown of Surfing

1. Vans Hawaiian Pro, at Haleiwa's Alii Beach Park, Nov. 12-24.

2. O'Neill World Cup of Surfing, at Sunset Beach, Nov. 26-Dec. 7.

3. Rip Curl Pro Pipeline Masters, at the Banzai Pipeline, Dec. 8-20.

Women's Triple Crown of Surfing

1. Roxy Pro, at Haleiwa's Alii Beach Park, Nov. 12-24.

2. Billabong Pro Maui, at Honolua Bay, Dec. 8-20.

The Triple Crown will continue through Dec. 20 with two more events for the men, and one more for the women. The best overall performer in each series is named the Triple Crown champion.

"Doing well in Hawaii anytime is a blessing," said Fred Patacchia Jr., who on Sunday at Sunset Beach picked up his second title in three years at the Xcel Pro - the kickoff event for Hawaii's big-wave season. With his consistently solid surfing all year and a strong chance of qualifying for the elite World Championship Tour with good performances in the Triple Crown, he's one many expect to do well in the series.

"I'm really confident going into the Triple Crown because this is my home; if this were in France or somewhere else maybe it'd be different," said the 22-year-old from Haleiwa. "I want to accomplish this at least once in my career -- win the Triple Crown or at least one of the events. And to do it this year would just be amazing."

The Van's Hawaiian Pro is followed by the O'Neill World Cup of Surfing, at Sunset Beach from Nov. 26-Dec. 7. The final jewel of the men's Triple Crown is the Rip Curl Pro Pipeline Masters, at the Banzai Pipeline from Dec. 8-20.

Kauai's Andy Irons is the two-time defending men's Triple Crown champion.

On Monday, at a contest in Brazil, the 26-year-old from Hanalei wrapped up this third consecutive world championship when the last remaining contender was mathematically eliminated by losing in the early rounds. Returning home just days ago, Irons can now focus exclusively on defending his Triple Crown titles, which he has often said before are almost as important as the world championships.

The kickoff to the 7th women's Triple Crown, the Roxy Pro is followed by one other series event, the Billabong Pro Maui, at Honolua Bay, Dec. 8-20. Keala Kennelly, also from Hanalei but now living in Honolulu, is the defending women's Triple Crown champ.

Kennelly became the first Hawaii woman to win the series last year, and also finished as the 2003 world runner-up. She is not in contention for the world title this year, but is very determined to make a run at another Triple Crown title.

"Especially now with the world title out of my hands, there's definitely more fire inside of me to win the Triple Crown again," Kennelly, 26, said. "It was about damn time someone from Hawaii won, and I would be stoked if Megan (Abubo) or Rochelle (Ballard) or (Melanie) Bartels won it this year to keep it in the hands of Hawaii. But I'm gonna do my best to keep it in my hands, too."

Besides being the first two jewels of the men's Triple Crown, the Vans Hawaiian and O'Neill World Cup are also 6-star World Qualifying Series events that allow surfers their final shots at cracking the elite WCT in 2005. The Rip Curl Pipeline Masters is the final WCT stop this season.

This year, both women's Triple Crown events are also the final stops for the women's WCT, which Peru's Sofia Mulanovich is currently leading. On having two big events for women in Hawaii, Kennelly said: "It's about time, because this really is the proving ground."

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