Hawaii’s Triple Crown of Surfing

Hawaii’s Triple Crown of Surfing is a special annual pro surfing event that crowns several individual event winners and an overall champion each year in both the men’s and women’s categories. The competition features three contests for the men as well as three for the women. Professional surfers and surfing enthusiasts from around the world attend the event as spectators, with only a select few of the professional surfers chosen to participate.

Being named the champion of the Triple Crown Competition is widely accepted in the surfing world as the second most prestigious title in professional surfing, only superseded by the Surfing World Title. The event is considered the ultimate challenge and measure of a professional surfer’s skills in big wave surfing competition.

In a coincidence, the Surfing World Title winner and Triple Crown Champion are many times named on the very same day, as the World Tour ends in Hawaii with a similar schedule to the Triple Crown event. The Triple Crown is somewhat intertwined with the World Tour as some of the events serve as second-tier qualifying competitions and some of the events are actually a part of the World Title competition.

Three Individual Events and an Overall Competition Champion

The list below details the specific name of each event and its location. The men’s category and women’s category do differ in location as the women finish the competition in Honolua Bay as opposed to the Banzai Pipeline for the men.

Each of the locations for the three individual events comes with a unique array of challenges as the surfing environment, water conditions and behavior of the waves themselves can be quite different. However, all the events take place in Oahu on the Northern Shore with the exception of the women’s Pro Maui. That part of Oahu is a frequently surfed area and is known for waves that can be as high as fifty feet in height.

Men’s Triple Crown of Surfing Individual Events:

  • Event One - Reef Hawaiian Pro (Individual Event Champion Named)

  • Location - Haleiwa Ali’i Beach Park

  • Event Two - O’Neil Surfing World Cup (Individual Event Champion Named)

  • Location - Sunset Beach

  • Event Three - Billabong Pipeline Masters (Individual Event Champion Named)

  • Location- Banzai Pipeline

  • Overall Competition Champion of All Events Named at the End

Women’s Triple Crown of Surfing Individual Events:

  • Event One- Vans Hawaiian Pro (Individual Champion Named)

  • Location- Haleiwa Ali'i Beach Park

  • Event Two- Roxy Pro (Individual Champion Named)

  • Location- Sunset Beach

  • Event Three- Billabong Pro Maui (Individual Champion Named)

  • Location- Honolua Bay, Maui

  • Overall Competition Champion of All Events Named at the End

The World Surfing League and ASP

Both the World Title Tour and the Triple Crown are part of a series of professional surfing events governed by the ASP, also known as the Association of Surfing Professionals, until the start of 2015. The ASP existed from 1983 to 2014 but changed its name to the World Surf League or WSL at the start of the 2015 season. Much the same as the ASP, the Triple Crown competition began in 1983 as well and has taken place every year since inception.

Triple Crown Champions

On occasion, a single professional surfer will win both the World Title and the Triple Crown, but in most cases the winner of each contest is different. It is rare that the same surfer wins both competitions or even wins one of the competitions in consecutive years as the competition among professional surfers is extremely stiff. Additionally, the direct forces of nature involved in the sport always offer environments that can change from one minute to the next.

However, one name does stand out as a clear exception to the rule mentioned above, Sunny Garcia. Sunny Garcia was crowned champion of the Triple Crown event a total of six times, with consecutive wins in 1992, 1993 and 1994 as well as 1999 and 2000. Garcia’s record of elite performance in the competition is a cornerstone of championship surfing history. Derek Ho, Joel Parkinson and Andy Irons have also gained notoriety in the surfing world by obtaining multiple Triple Crown victories, but nobody has managed to match the six crowns of Sunny Garcia.

The Popularity of Pro Surfing Continues to Grow

Professional surfing has been an official sport for many decades, but it has come a long way since the 60s and 70s when it was very common for the total prize money of major events to total no more than $1,000. Vans is the official sponsor of the 2015 event, as it has been for the last several years, and they will award almost 1.2 million in total cash prizes throughout the competition. The prize money will be spread across all three events with a fifty-thousand dollar bonus prize going to the Triple Crown Champion that performs the best cumulatively.

The popularity of surfing continues to grow each year as the television ratings have improved for several years in a row and event attendance numbers have been on the rise at a steady pace. Many elements have contributed to the increase in fan support of the sport, but events such as the Triple Crown offer tremendous exposure. It is not uncommon to see individuals attending the Triple Crown who have never been to a professional surfing event before.

The Triple Crown is held each year in late November through Mid-December and offers an excellent entertainment venue for the entire family. If you happen to be in Hawaii while the event is taking place, it would be an excellent experience even for those who are not surfing enthusiasts. Of course, if you are not in Hawaii during the event, you can also catch it live on television or streaming on the internet.