HAWAII Magazine guide to watching the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing

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Hawaii’s big wave season is here!

High surf advisories have been issued for Oahu’s North Shore this week, just in time for the start of the 27th annual Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. The three event competition is the professional surf world’s most well-known and prestigious competition. And this year’s record $1 million Triple Crown total prize purse has attracted more than 150 surfers from 17 nations.

Take a drive up to Oahu’s world famous North Shore surf spots over the next month and you’ll find crowds of media and spectators lining the beaches, watching the surfers and the monster waves they ride—some of the latter, on a particularly wild day, topping 50 feet in height.

Triple Crown participants must compete in all three events, each held only when sustained wave heights top 15 feet or more. The competition is actually comprised of six separate events—three for women (one of these held on Maui) and three for men. Click here for a list of all the events.

Each event crowns an individual champion. The male and female surfers who gains the most points over all three of their events takes the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing overall championship. Last year's overall champions, Australians Joel Parkinson and Stephanie Gilmore, will be in the water again this year to defend their titles.

Mother Nature willing, the first men’s event of the Triple Crown, the Reef Hawaiian Pro, is scheduled to start today at 8 a.m.

Hawaii_Magazine_Vans_Triple_Crown_Surfing_guideIf you’re planning a road trip to any Triple Crown event over the next month, keep in mind that competition dates are never guaranteed because big waves are required for big surfing. Click here to check on the status of daily events, or call (808) 596-SURF. All events run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

What else will you need to know if you go? Here’s where we come in.

On the following pages, you’ll find our HAWAII Magazine Guide to the Beaches and Events of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing—with tips on getting to each, where to park, bathroom availability and food and beverage concessions. We also tip you off on the defending champion to watch for each event, and the surf perils and pitfalls each beach is most famous for.

All Vans Triple Crown of Surfing events are free and open to the public. Arrive early to beat traffic and get the best spots on the beach. Keep our Triple Crown guide bookmarked on your smart phone in case you need it.
 

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Haleiwa Alii Beach, Oahu

Reef Hawaiian Pro
(men’s event)
Nov. 12-23

The Vans Hawaiian Pro
(women’s event)
Nov. 17-23

• Location: Haleiwa Alii Beach Park, 66 Haleiwa Road, in Haleiwa town

• Known by surfers for:
       
        - Powerful rip currents—strong channels of water that pull surfers away from their desired take off point.

        - The “Toilet Bowl”—a shallow reef patch where surfers often get caught inside waves as they break onto the reef. All surfers must navigate it at the start and at the end of their ride.

• Reef Hawaiian Pro defending champion: Michel Bourez (Tahiti)

• Vans Hawaiian Pro defending champion: Carissa Moore (Hawaii)

• Beach access: Easy. Right alongside park.

• Bathrooms? Yes

• Parking? There’s an actual parking lot at Haleiwa Alii Beach Park, but parking will be first come, first serve. Parking will also be allowed in selected areas outside the beach park.

• Food and drink? A lunch wagon with a variety of ready-to-eat snacks and drinks for sale.
 

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Sunset Beach, Oahu

O’Neill World Cup of Surfing
(men’ event)
Nov. 24 - Dec.6

The Gidget Pro
(women’s event)
Nov. 24 - Dec. 6

• Location: Kamehameha Hwy, 8 miles east of Haleiwa town

• O’Neill World Cup of Surfing defending champion: C.J. Hobgood (Florida)

• Gidget Pro defending champion: Stephanie Gilmore (Australia)

• Known by surfers for:

        - Its reputation as a surf break where champions are made and broken.
      
        - The “West Peak”—a classic Sunset Beach wave known for being fast-moving and unpredictable.

        - A strong rip current dubbed “Sunset Rip”—a challenge for surfers trying to complete their ride on the break’s “West Peak.”

• Beach access: Easy. Just off of Kamehameha Hwy.

• Bathrooms? Yes

• Parking? The Sunset Beach Park parking lot will be open first come, first serve. Parking will also be allowed along Kamehameha Hwy.

• Food and drink? A lunch wagon with a variety of ready-to-eat snacks and drinks for sale.
 

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Banzai Pipeline, Oahu

Billabong Pipeline Masters
(men’s event)
Dec. 7-20

• Location: Ehukai Beach Park, Kamehameha Hwy, 7 miles east of Haleiwa town

• Defending champion: Kelly Slater (Florida, California, Hawaii)

• Known by surfers for:

        - Being home to the most dangerous and monstrous waves in the entire Triple Crown competition.

        - Producing some of the most photographed and filmed waves in the world.

• Beach access: Easy. Just off Kamehameha Hwy.

• Bathrooms? Yes

• Parking? The Ehukai Beach Park parking lot will be open first come, first serve. Parking will also be allowed along Kamehameha Hwy.

• Food and drink? A lunch wagon with a variety of ready-to-eat snacks and drinks for sale.
 

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Honolua Bay, Maui

The Billabong Pro Maui
(women’s event)
Dec. 8-20

• Location: Honolua-Mokuleia Bay Marine Life Conservation District, Honoapiilani  Hwy, 11 miles north of Lahaina, just past Kapalua Resort.

• Defending champion: Stephanie Gilmore (Australia)

• Known by surfers for:

        - A long ride. Surfers will compete on waves that could possibly last the length of five football fields.

• Beach access: A bit of a trek. It’s a quarter-mile hike from the highway to a rocky shoreline and very limited beach area. Our advice? Find a comfortable spot along the cliffs of Honolua Bay for a better vantage point. Lipoa Point, further north along the highway also offers a panoramic view.

• Bathrooms? No

• Parking? No parking lot. Parking is available alongside Honoapiilani Hwy.

• Food and drinks? No

(For more Triple Crown of Surfing info, click here.)

Photos: Vans Triple Crown of Surfing (pgs. 1, 2, 3, 4); Billabong Pro Maui (pg. 5)
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