You may not be too familiar with Griffin Colapinto. If that’s the case, don’t beat yourself up. You can’t be expected to keep tabs on every 19-year-old trying to make a name for themselves in the surf world. But after making his second straight final heat, Colapinto sits atop the Triple Crown of Surfing leaderboard, though finishing up with that title is still a tall order.
Saturday was finals day for the World Cup of Surfing at Sunset Beach, Oahu. As the second jewel of the Triple Crown, the World Cup usually separates the field and leaves just a few distinct contenders before heading to the Pipe Masters. But after a second-place finish at the Hawaiian Pro and now a fourth-place finish at the World Cup, Colapinto has the Triple Crown lead all to himself.
It’s been a spectacular winter for the kid from San Clemente, Calif., who has leaped to the top of the Qualifying Series standings and will be set for his rookie campaign on next year’s Championship Tour. Completing 2017 with a Triple Crown would obviously be ideal, but Colapinto will have to make his way through the Pipe Masters Invitational just get into the main draw. If he doesn’t survive that field, then he won’t have a chance to add anything significant to his current point total of 14,300.
If that’s the case, then Kolohe Andino’s 13,300 points will have him in pole position for his first Triple Crown. Andino took second place on Saturday after a fifth back at Haleiwa. So another good run for him at Pipeline would complete the biggest achievement of his professional career.
Saturday’s big winner was Conner Coffin, who showed off his smooth style on some less than accommodating open faces for the victory. He’ll head to Pipeline with 11,000 points and a chance to stay in the mix with another very deep run.
For some perspective, John John Florence won last year’s Triple Crown with a point total of 17,600. That would be within reach of plenty of competitors, but Colapinto will have the most riding on that Invitational event. His season has already been magical, so there’s no reason to think he’s incapable of pulling off another stunner.
Sebastian Zietz reached the quarterfinals and took a 13th-place result. Zietz was the standard bearer on Friday with his high heat total of the event. He delighted the judges with back-to-back nine-point rides on his way to a 19.17 total in round three. It was reminiscent of some of his memorable moments during his 2012 Triple Crown run. Anything short of a win at the Pipe Masters wouldn’t give Seabass a chance at a second Crown, but he showed again very clearly that he’s one of the best in Hawaiian waters.
Qualification questions were answered for almost all QS competitors. Keanu Asing and Ezekiel Lau had to wait out the results after some early losses for both left them in limbo. But each managed to hang on, with Asing finishing ninth on the QS leaderboard and Lau just behind him in 10th place. Those spots guarantee each a return to the CT next season.
Brazil’s Michael Rodrigues and South Africa’s Michael February are the next two on the QS rankings and both will be very keen observers of the Pipe Masters. Rodrigues gets in if either Kanoa Igarashi or Italo Ferreira finishes in the CT top 22. February makes it if both can reach that plateau.
Igarashi will enter ranked 20th, Ferreira in 25th.
It’s a familiar position for Igarashi, who needed a big result at last year’s Pipe Masters to get Lau, his buddy, on this year’s tour. The stakes are probably not as personally important for him this time, but they could be just as impactful.
So we have determined quite a bit, but certainly not everything. We have a world title race to complete, a Triple Crown winner to identify, and a pair of qualification positions to finalize. The Pipe Masters is the only place that feels appropriate for each of those scenarios to adequately play out.
David Simon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.