Star-Bulletin Sports

Wednesday, November 14, 2001


Surfers avoid tag of favorite

By Nick Abramo

Some of the best competitive surfers in the world convened in Honolulu yesterday at Willow's Restaurant for a luncheon to officially kick off this year's Vans Triple Crown.

Defending men's world champion and five-time Triple Crown champion Sunny Garcia was there, along with three-time defending women's world champion Layne Beachley and a host of others trying to break through for the world and Triple Crown titles.

"Last year at this time, I weighed about 180 pounds," said Garcia, who grew up in Waianae but now lives on Kauai. "This year, I've been sitting at home a little more, enjoying Hawaiian food and I'm now a little bit over 200 pounds."

But if that comment was meant to persuade other competitors to take him lightly, it isn't going to work.

As Association of Surfing Professionals executive director Randy Rarick pointed out, "You can peg Sunny as somebody to put your money on, but obviously there's (others who) will give him a run for his money."

Beachley also had a ploy to divert attention from her as the favorite.

"I've got an injury (back) and I've been instructed to stay out of the water up until the start of the Roxy Pro. I've been seeing a chiropractor, who some of the other girls (on tour) have also been seeing. It must be some kind of conspiracy to keep me out of the water," Beachley joked.

The holding period for the G-Shock Hawaiian Pro -- the first of three men's Triple Crown events -- started yesterday and runs through Nov. 25 at Alii Beach Park in Haleiwa .

The women's Roxy Pro and the Bear Hawaiian Pro Longboard Invitational holding periods also started yesterday.

The conditions on the North Shore were clean and a little too small with 3-4 foot waves yesterday, but Rarick expects a new swell to arrive in a few days.

The second jewel of the Triple Crown -- the Rip Curl Cup at Sunset Beach from Nov. 26 to Dec. 7 -- is the final ASP World Championship Tour event and it will decide the men's world champion.

A handful of surfers, including Garcia and Hawaii's Andy Irons along with ratings leader C.J. Hobgood of Florida, are still in the world-title chase.

There is no women's Triple Crown, but the season-ending Billabong Girls contest is coming up Nov. 26 to Dec. 7 at Honolua Bay, Maui.

Beachley is the women's ratings leader, but a large group of others, including Hawaii's Rochelle Ballard, Megan Abubo and Keala Kennelly, can still come out on top.

The Xbox Gerry Lopez Pipeline Masters, a specialty event which is invitation-only for the first time this year, will conclude this year's Triple Crown at Banzai Pipeline from Dec. 8-17.

Garcia calls himself a "longshot" for the world title.

"There's some young kids out there who have never won it and are really hungry for it," he said.

"I just want to go out and win at Sunset (Rip Curl Cup) and if I win my second world title, I'll be stoked. If not, that's okay. I'm more concerned with my sixth Triple Crown."

Vans Triple Crown

Men's events

>> G-Shock Hawaiian Pro, Alii Beach Park, Nov. 13-25
>> Rip Curl Cup, Sunset Beach, Nov. 26 to Dec. 7
>> XBox Gerry Lopez Pipeline Masters, Banzai Pipeline, Dec. 8-17

Women's events

>> Roxy Pro, Alii Beach Park, Nov. 13-25
>> Billabong Girls, Honolua Bay, Maui, Nov. 26 to Dec. 7

Other upcoming contests

Big-wave events

>> World Championship of Big Wave Tow-In Surfing, Jaws, Maui, Nov. 17 to Jan. 12
>> Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau, Waimea Bay, Dec. 1 to Feb. 28.

ASP Ratings

Men's World Championship Tour leaders

1. C.J. Hobgood, Florida, 3,094 points; 2. Mark Occhilupo, Australia, 2,816; 3. Cory Lopez, Florida, 2,780; 4. Taylor Knox, California, 2,552; 5. Sunny Garcia, Hawaii, 2,422; 6. Andy Irons, Hawaii, 2,365; 7. Jake Paterson, Australia, 2,328.

Women's World Championship Tour leaders

1. Layne Beachley, Australia, 1,300 points; 2. (tie) Rochelle Ballard, Hawaii, 1,270; 2. (tie) Melanie Redman, Australia, 1,270; 4. Megan Abubo, Hawaii, 1,150; 5. (tie) Keala Kennelly, Hawaii, 1,090; 5. (tie) Serena Brooke, Australia, 1,090; 5. (tie) Tita Tavares, Brazil, 1,090; 8. Jacqueline Silva, Brazil, 930.

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