The first day of action for the 30th Anniversary Vans Triple Crown of Surfing hydrated by vitaminwater finally kicked off the three leg series yesterday in Haleiwa. Competition was forced to wait until midday to begin due to lack of swell, however, the forecast predicts ideal conditions for the next couple of days to possibly complete the REEF Hawaiian Pro 2012. This event alone holds a heavy prize purse of $250,000 for the eight rounds of competition with 128 surfers to battle it out. Amongst the variety surfers from around the world, Nathan Hedge (AUS), Cory Lopez (USA), Maxime Huscenot (FRA) and Mason Ho (HAW) were clear standouts in the lineup yesterday.
Though the Florida native recently returned from a four month recovery due to an ankle injury, Cory Lopez didn’t hold anything back in his massive air game to enter the Hawaiian Air Show early to possibly earn 250,000 Hawaiian Airlines miles.
“Today’s the perfect day to go for the Hawaiian Air miles,” said Lopez. “There’s a couple of long lefts where you can get a lot of speed and do a big air and the wind’s perfect for it. I missed a lot of time in the water. I had a bad foot injury so this is the first event I’ve done in about four months. It’s gonna take a little bit of a miracle for me to qualify, but the opportunity is there, but I’ll need a good run so I’ll give it my best and see where I go.”
Nathan Hedge enters the event with a mission to hunt down valuable points to give him a vital seed for his 2013 campaign. As a former ASP World Tour Top 10 athlete, Hedge has been battling to find the requalification points he needs to get back in the game after taking two years off.
“I took two years off and I’m refocused and got a new perspective, a new outlook and I’m enthusiastic again,” said Hedge. “Starting on the tour young, it teaches you a lot of things and it’s interesting having the perspective of not being on tour and getting back on. I’ve got a new appreciation for it and I think surfing’s come a long way. I’m just really excited to be back and get another chance. If you do well in Hawaii it can change things. I’ve had a lot of support and backing over the years, so now I’m back for myself and it needs to come from me.”
Hawaiian local, Mason Ho, brought the beach to it’s feet in an exciting double tube ride to aerial attempt. Though the aerial wasn’t completed, Ho managed to impress as he moves onto the next round. The young Lost team rider is son of the early Vans Triple Crown champion Michael Ho and nephew of Pipe Master Derek Ho. His sister, Coco Ho, is an ASP World Tour surfer – clear to say that surfing runs in their blood.
“I kind of got ahead of myself. I saw the air section out of the second barrel and I was already thinking, ‘ok what grab?’ and I wasn’t even out of the barrel and that’s what Dad says – ‘Don’t ever get ahead of yourself,’” Ho said.
Round of 96 today will include Tanner Gudauskas (USA), Dane Reynolds (USA), the 2011 Hawaiian Air Show winner Nat Young (USA), Mark Occhilupo (AUS), Jack Freestone (AUS) and Willian Cardoso (BRA). The Clash of the Legends will also take to the waves today at 11am.
In celebration of 30 years of world class surfing, the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing hydrated by vitaminwater offers $1million in prize money this year, including a $100,000 bonus, a Harley Davidson motorcycle, and a $10,000 custom Nixon watch for the overall series champion. Each of the three events of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing has a two-week holding period within which to run, requiring just 3-4 days of excellent surf to be completed.
Watch LIVE on: www.vanstriplecrownofsurfing.com