Following the recent news that the ASP had acquired the Triple Crown, we spoke with the event’s founder Randy Rarick about what this deal means and what changes we can expect moving forward.
Can you break down what this new ASP acquisition will mean for the Triple Crown?
Sure. The ASP, as you know, is consolidating their presence across the board. They've brought the Big Wave Tour, the XXL Awards, and some other things under their umbrella. Recently, they approached Vans about taking over the licensing of the Triple Crown. It'd been in the works for about four months, but we just finalized the deal. Vans is still the title sponsor, but the license will now belong to the ASP.
What changes can we expect to see?
The ASP is pretty much gonna be running the show now. They're taking over production and the prize money. All that stuff. Our Triple Crown crew over here will continue what we’re doing, but the ASP is going to enhance our capabilities. So it'll mean more money and a higher quality webcast. The original event sponsors (Reef with Haleiwa, Vans with Sunset, and Billabong with Pipe Masters) will all remain in place. But they're going to go ahead and market the Triple Crown as a whole more and bring in more advertisers and sponsors. Almost every one of our existing sponsors has signed back on, so it'll essentially be enhancing what we've already done.
How long is the license?
We're on a year-to-year deal right now. But the idea is that we expect to be with them for the next five years.
How much did the acquisition cost?
Unfortunately I can't comment on that. It's proprietary.
Can you walk me through the changes for the Pipe Trials event?
First, the ASP made it super clear to us that Hawaii had to fall under the same rules as everyone else. That basically means that the format for wildcards had to change. In the past four years, we've had eight local guys qualify for the Pipe Masters. The ASP has made it clear that all of the events had to be unison. So just two wildcards. So just two wildcards for every event. That's it. So we had to figure out the best way to get the best solution for Hawaiian surfers. That's where the idea for the Pipe Trials event came in. We wanted to get the maximum amount of guys in the spotlight to get a spot in the Pipe Masters. We told them that we needed to get $100,000 prize purse. The ASP, at first, wasn't too keen on that. You don't normally see a trials event with a $100,000 prize purse. But they saw the value of what the Pipe specialists offer and signed on.
Can you break down the prize money for the trials?
If you come in last place in your first heat, you get $2,000. The winner gets $10,000. Second place $8,000. The rest of the money is distributed out.
And how do you decide who gets into the trials?
It'll be a 32-man format. At a minimum 26 Hawaiians will get into the event. The other six will come from Billabong and Vans. Four from Billabong and two from Vans. Some of those surfers could also be Hawaiians, if Billabong decides to put someone like Shane Dorian or Ian Gentil into the event.
And will the trialists who qualify for the Pipe Masters be paid the same as other World Tour surfers?
Over the last eight years we looked at the numbers, and only one or two of the trialists have made it past Round 3, where they would start getting paid. So the guys that qualified for the Pipe Masters had to go three rounds before they actually made any prize money. We wanted to change that. Now, the guys who qualify for the Pipe Masters get money right away, just for being in the contest. The fact that you had to get through three rounds to make money was wrong. In eight years, we only passed out $55,000 to the trialists in the Pipe Masters. Those two guys that get into the event should get paid from the beginning. And that's what's going to happen now.
Are the trials going to be run during the Pipe Masters?
Yes, the trials have to be run during the Pipe Masters event. We wanted our trialists to get as much exposure as possible. We wanted three things: more prize money, more exposure, and to get more surfers into the trials. We're giving Hawaiians an unprecedented opportunity for them to show their stuff in front of the biggest audience we have. Inevitably, you'll have some push back from some people who are irked about no longer having eight trialists in the event. But we think that, given the reality of the ASP's position on only allowing two trialists into all World Tour events, this is the best thing for everybody.
How are the 26 Hawaiian surfers chosen?
It's a combination of surfers qualifying from the Volcom Pipe Pro, the highest ranked Hawaiian QS surfers, the top ranked ASP Hawaii surfers off the local rankings, and the Triple Crown "front runners."
Is there anything else we can expect?
We're also doing a showcase event at Pipe for the women. We're going to be taking the top-four finishers from the Women's World Tour and four Hawaiian women specialists and we're going to have an event at Pipe to highlight the women's talent. This will be in conjunction with the men's Pipe Masters. So there's really a lot to look forward to all around.