With a halo of ugly weather encircling the Hawaiian Islands and a dismal short-term forecast on the horizon, the opening day of the Vans Triple Crown coughed and sputtered to life this morning at Haleiwa with the Reef Hawaiian Pro. It was by no means a pretty start to the heralded million-dollar trifecta--in all honesty, the lineup looked downright depressing, bearing an uncanny resemblance to a bad Brazilian sandbar--but it was a start to the series nonetheless.
Grovel-plagued slop-fest or paddle-for-your-life conditions, the Hawaiian leg of the 'QS represents the last mile of a marathon season for the 'QS surfers looking to breach the wall into the World Tour. And with the gutless lefts taking the stage over the absent rights, the surfers more accustomed to such conditions seemed to have an edge. Of the nine Brazilian surfers to surf today--the first day saw the completion of the round of 136 and 11 heats of the round of 128--four saw their way through to the next round. In contrast, of the 23 Hawaiian surfers to compete today, only nine advanced. An indicator of the conditions or just random luck, there were glimpses of brilliance from the local contingency with Maui's Granger Larsen at the forefront with his heat-winning 9- and 6-point rides.
"It's definitely really small, kind of like Brazilian status out there. You gotta surf like a Brazilian," said Larsen. "If you get the lucky one and get a little wall you can make a score off of it. I did and I got a nine so I'm pretty happy about that."
At 19, Larsen is hoping to follow in the steps of good friend and last year's Triple Crown standout Dusty Payne. "The Triple Crown means a lot. If you do well here you'll be recognized a lot. I look at one of my best friends, Dusty Payne, and he blew up even more after that."
Of the big names to surf today, last year's event winner and current World Tour bigwig Michel Bourez narrowly fell victim to the ever-cordial Joel Centeio and the man with what has to have the longest-running joke in ASP history, James "Taipan" Wood. Believe it or not, "Taipan" is not the Aussie's birth name.
According to Wood, changing his name to "Taipan" with the ASP was as easy as a phone call to the organization's frontman, Al Hunt.
"He [Al Hunt] just laughed and put it in there. He knows it's a fake. You could ring up and change someone else's name if you wanted to..." said Wood about officially adding the "Taipan" moniker to his name in a recent interview with Stab magazine.
We'll see what dawn brings tomorrow, but the scuttlebutt at the event is talk of a lay day and inclement conditions. But hey, no one's ever been wrong about predicting the weather, right? So keep yourself glued to Surfermag.com as we continue to bring you all of the highs and lows from the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing and the 2009 North Shore season.
Round of 136: Results shown in order of 1st place through 4th. 1st & 2nd advance
H1: Sean Moody (HAW), Anthony Petruso (USA), Derek Ho (HAW), Makuakai Rothman (HAW)
H2: Michel Bourez (PYF), Richard Christie (NZ), Myles Padaca (HAW), Kaipo Jaquias (HAW)
H3: Solomon Ortiz (HAW), Izuki Tanaka (JPN), Daniel Jones (HAW), Kiron Jabour (HAW)
H4: Bruno Rodrigues (USA), Kamalei Alexander (HAW), Hira Terinatoofa (PYF), Love Hodel (HAW)
Round of 128
H1: Granger Larsen (HAW), Damien Fahrenfort (ZAF), Mason Ho (HAW), Nathan Carroll
H2: Alejo Muniz (BRA), Dylan Melamed (HAW), Sean Moody (HAW), Jarrad Sullivan (HAW)
H3: Lincoln Taylor (AUS), Jayke Sharp (AUS), Jean da Silva (BRA), Liam McNamara (HAW)
H4: Cory Lopez (FL), Brad Ettinger (USA), Anthony Petruso (USA), Paulo Moura (Brz)
H5: Evan Valiere (HAW), Nathan Edge (AUS), Diego Rosa (BRA), Blake Wilson (AUS)
H6: Joel Centeio (HAW), James Taipan Wood (AUS), Michel Bourez (PYF), Marco Giorgio (URY)
H7: Andre Silva (BRA), Luke Campbell (AUS), Masatoshi Ohno (JPN), Kevin Sullivan (HAW)
H8: Raoni Monteiro (BRA), Marco Farney (BRA), Richard Christie (NZ), Jay Davies (AUS)
H9: Hank Gaskell (HAW), Alain Riou (PYF), Nat Young (AUS), Hugo Savalli (REU)
H10: Gavin Gillette (HAW), Heath Joske (AUS), Mark Matthews (AUS), Solomon Ortiz (HAW)
H11: TJ Barron (HAW), Jason Shibata (HAW), Hizunome Bettero (BRA), Charlie Brown (BRA)