It all gets underway on Monday as the 2018 Triple Crown of Surfing opens at Haleiwa with the Hawaiian Pro. It’s the first opportunity for anyone to begin their quest for points in the winter’s most prestigious and anticipated series. Past winners have run the gamut from renowned superstars like Kelly Slater and Gabriel Medina, local legends like Sunny Garcia, Andy Irons and Derek Ho, or breakout stars like Kauai’s Sebastian Zietz in 2012 or defending champ Griffin Colapinto.
Getting off to a quick start is essential. Deep runs in two of the three contests can be enough to sufficiently climb the ladder. But with not everyone guaranteed a spot in the Pipe Masters, it’s important for the Qualifying Series surfers to show up at Haleiwa ready to go from day one.
That’s how Colapinto made his mark last year. The youngster from California was phenomenal from the start and ended up taking second place, barely finishing behind winner Filipe Toledo. Colapinto then added on with another final heat in the World Cup, taking fourth place. Those two big scores ended up being enough to stave off any challengers at Pipeline, where Colapinto did not qualify to surf the main draw.
When Zietz had the winter of his life six years ago, he began with a victory at Haleiwa and then followed up with a third place at the World Cup. Those back-to-back finishes essentially changed his career. He earned a spot on the 2013 Championship Tour where, despite some qualification ups and downs, he has remained ever since.
That’s a real possibility today for everyone in the draw. With the fields so deep and talented, it may not be a likelihood but it’s been done before. They could be struggling on the QS or part-time local surfers with full-time jobs, but the opportunity exists for all with these two QS 10,000 contests.
The odds are better for those like Zietz, who enjoy a bye into round three. Some of those other favorites include defending Haleiwa champion Toledo, Italo Ferreira, Jordy Smith, Michel Bourez, Joel Parkinson, Kanoa Igarashi and Kolohe Andino. All will begin in the Round of 64 after half the field has already been ousted.
Beginning in round one isn’t a death sentence, as demonstrated at the HIC Pro by Tahiti’s O’Neill Massin. He made it all the way from round one to the final and finished runner-up after being easily the best surfer throughout the entire event. Massin will be back in round one this week hoping for a similar result.
Others in round one include the Kauai trio of Koa Smith, Evan Valiere and Kainehe Hunt. Smith has a stacked heat, taking on Imai Devault, Elijah Gates and Kei Kobayashi. Valiere was making a nice run at the HIC Pro before an interference call derailed what had the potential to be a big result.
A quick start seems likely as Surfline projects the early portion of this week to offer the best conditions. The long-term outlook seems a bit weak, so Monday will probably get the green light in order to line up full days of action with Wednesday appearing to be the most ideal.
David Simon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.