Move gets Op Pro started
It sounds great in name -- Avalanche -- but it's not the place surfers and organizers wanted to hold the first day of the opening contest of yesterday's 24th annual men's Vans Triple Crown of Surfing.
However, with what could turn out to be the poorest November for Hawaii waves recorded in about 60 years, and only five days left in the holding period for the 22nd annual Op Pro Hawaii to run its four competition days, they had no choice but to move from the traditional Alii Beach break of Haleiwa to Avalanche, the nearby outside reef that at least had some waves with up to 8-foot faces.
The Triple Crown is a series of three major events at premier North Shore venues that awards its own championship title to the best overall performer, in addition to the individual contest championships.
"I did a lot of competitions in my lifetime, and basically you have to feel out what the conditions are doing," said former two-time event and 1996 Triple Crown winner Kaipo Jaquias of Kauai. "In my first heat I almost lost, but made it with just one wave (ridden the entire heat). If you're a world-class surfer, you gotta be able to surf at any given time, in any conditions."
The former world No. 2 is 35 and competes only in the Triple Crown these days.
Though surfers are judged on their top two waves in each heat, Jaquias was able to place second and move on from his first-round heat with the 6.67 (out of 10) score he got for the single ride.
He qualified for the second day of the Op Pro -- likely to run today -- by getting another runner-up result in his second-rounder with 12.33 total points.
The six-star, $125,000 Op Pro is also part of the World Qualifying Series in addition to the Triple Crown, and started with an international field of 160 surfers. All of the first and second rounds were completed yesterday.
Other Hawaii surfers who moved on included second-round heat winners Jason Shibata, Daniel Jones and Makua Rothman.
Jones notched the highest overall heat score of any surfer for the day in winning his with 15.83 points.
Australia's Dion Atkinson and Japan's Teppei Tajima also delivered strong second-round victories.
"If you want to be one of the best surfers in the world, you've got to be able to surf it all," Rothman, 22, said. "You only have to look at guys like Kelly Slater and Andy Irons to see the importance of that."
Florida's Slater, the current and record eight-time world champion, is only participating in the last two jewels of this year's Triple Crown.