Vans Triple Crown of Surfing

Many surfers will make the attempt but only one will prosper at this winter's Vans Triple Crown of Surfing competition held on the North Shore of Oahu.

Unlike the dependable grounds of a tennis court or a football field, the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing—as it has done so for the past 32 years—relies solely on what Mother Nature decides to send that very day.

“That’s probably the most stressful part of this job,” laughs Marty Thomas, the executive director of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. “We get down to the beach early in the morning, just in time to see the light hit the water.”

After watching each thick swell roll in and out along the North Shore’s coarse sandy shores, Thomas, along with the head judge and a surfing representative of the Vans Triple Crown, will “make the call” on whether the forecast is looking favorable for the day’s competition.

“You’re holding the fate of the surfers in your hands,” Thomas asserts. “We want to make sure we take the best four days out of our 12-day waiting period for the competition as this is the event that our competitors look forward to all year long. It’s the ultimate proving ground.”

In 1983, former Hawaii senator Fred Hemmings decided to transform a multitude of surfing events being held on the North Shore into a culmination of surf competitions that would crown an overall champion.

“Fred had the idea of creating the ultimate stomping grounds for the best surf in the world,” Thomas says. “You have three very unique surf breaks where the champion will have to really show his expertise and skills.”

That means no random tricks will be risked during Vans Triple Crown, says Jodi Wilmott, the communications director for the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. A flawless result, she says, may be a possibility if the surfer puts in the time and work ethic.

“It goes with that 10,000 rule if you want to be good at anything,” Wilmott explains. “The saying is you have to spend 10,000 hours perfecting something if you want to be great. For surfers it’s equivalent to 10,000 waves. Just to feel the energy around our local surfers and to see them compete on their home turf; [that] to me has always been the most chicken skin moment.”

As a former professional surfer, Thomas can’t wait to see some “great surf action” among the best surfers in the world.

“It’s the biggest adrenaline rush you could ever imagine,” Thomas says. “What makes the North Shore so unique and different from other venues in the world is that the surfers are here for a six to eight week period. They really get to hang out and live the lifestyle and feel the waves of the North Shore. It’s a spectacle unlike anywhere else in the world.”

The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing will be held from Nov. 12 through Dec. 20. For more information visit the website.