As the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing approaches this winter, the HIC Pro first opens the Hawaii surf season. The official qualifying event for the Triple Crown, the 4-Star HIC Pro began its waiting period Monday but has called lay days on its first two potential starting dates.
More than half of the 112-surfer field hails from the Aloha State, all hopeful to prove worthy of entering Hawaii’s most prestigious trio of events, which get underway with the Reef Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa on Nov. 12. But the HIC Pro at Sunset Beach is the direct path to that end and many Kauai surfers will be hoping to paddle their way into that opportunity.
Evan Valiere will get to wait out the first two rounds of competition and begin in the Round of 64. Valiere took third place at the 2013 HIC Pro and followed that up with a quarterfinal appearance at the Reef Hawaiian Pro. While speaking to Valiere earlier this summer about the Na Pali Race he organizes each year, I asked him about the upcoming winter surf season and his thoughts on participating.
“I love surfing and competing in Hawaii,” he said. “This is the Mecca of surfing, so it’s really fortunate to be from Hawaii and to get to go to Oahu and show our stuff.”
Valiere will surf against Kilian Garland in a four-man heat, with the other two opponents still to be determined through the early rounds.
Kilauea’s Koa Smith will also begin in the third round and take on Japan’s Arashi Kato along with two more competitors. Koa’s older brother Alex also gets safe passage into round three, taking on American Taylor Clark in their four-man heat.
Young Kauai surfers Dylan Goodale and Kaimana Jaquias will be jumping into the Round of 64. Goodale has Japan’s Kaisa Kawamura in his heat while Jaquias will see Aussie Mitchell James. Danny Fuller, who moved from Kauai to Oahu as a teenager, will have the defending HIC Pro champion Mason Ho in his third-round heat.
Getting started a bit earlier, Kauai’s Chris Foster and big-wave standout Reef McIntosh will be in the same second-round heat. Stephen Koehne will have the longest road map of any Kauai surfer as he begins in the Round of 112 against Koa Rothman, Davin Torres-Jaime and Frank Chenault.
More of the best surfers from around the state who are scheduled to participate are six-time Triple Crown champion Sunny Garcia, 2001 Triple Crown winner Myles Padaca, WCT regular Freddy Patacchia Jr., Olamana Eleogram, Joel Centeio, Jason Shibata, Kekoa Bacalso, Ian Walsh and 2012 Cinderella story Gregg Nakamura.
The younger generation, including Ulu Napeahi, Isaiah Moniz, Elijah Gates and Kalani David, who all have Team Hawaii experience at the ISA World Junior Championships, will also be trying to make their mark among their elder heroes.
Following the HIC Pro and the Reef Hawaiian Pro, the final two events of the Triple Crown are the Vans World Cup of Surfing (Nov. 24 at Sunset Beach) and the Billabong Pipe Masters (Dec. 8 at Pipeline).
David Simon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.