Anyone worth their salt will tell you that winning the Triple Crown of Surfing is the next best thing to an ASP World Title. For over 30 years, the crown has been one of the most remarkable headpieces in surfing. He who wears it is the undisputed best competitive surfer for a full Hawaii season, which is certainly no haupia pie walk. Haleiwa, Sunset Beach and Pipeline are difficult to surf and that brings a degree of grit to the crown, a tangible degree of honor. The Reef Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa starts today and so the chase for the crown begins now. SurfingMagazine.com will be reporting on all things Triple Crown as things progress, but for now, here are our favorites for the win.
CJ Hobgood: Hate to play the old "He's unsponsored with children, he needs it!" card but facts are facts. CJ Hobgood is currently without a main sponsor and the dude's got mouths to feed. CJ won Sunset in 2008 in some of the biggest surf in the history of the TCOS — on his backhand, mind you. And have you seen the man at Pipe? CJ winning the crown should surprise no one.
Mick Fanning: Could there be a greater way to finish a year than with a world title and a triple crown? If so, please notify Mick Fanning immediately.
Dane Reynolds: Dane's now got something to prove. After two tame performances as a wildcard at World Tour events, Dane put his head down. He got focused and started training and he knows all eyes will be singing him in Hawaii. I see it panning it out one of two ways: 1) He melts from all the pressure and doesn't surf like Dane or 2) He wins the Triple Crown and it gives him a confidence boost to get back on tour and eventually claim his rightful world title. Sure, there could be middle ground here, but why would fate choose to be so bland?
Mason Ho: Mason just won the HIC Pro at Sunset Beach and momentum is everybody's best bud. Both his dad and uncle have won the Triple Crown in the past (4 crowns for Uncle Derek; 2 for Papa Mike). It's in his blood and if trying a chop hop after destroying an 8-foot wall at Sunset won't win you a Triple Crown then I don't know what will.
John John Florence: It would be an outright abomination for JJF to not steal the record for Triple Crown wins from Sunny Garcia, who has six. John's already got one in the bag and there's no reason for him to wait to collect more.
Kelly Slater: Slater is not in Haleiwa or Sunset, but he’ll still probably find a way to win the Triple Crown.
Granger Larsen: Last year, an outer island kid came into Haliewa with a bad seed and a big smile. He won the Reef Hawaiian Pro, made the final at Sunset and deleted big names at Pipe. You may remember him — his name was Sebastian Zietz. Granger is in a boat that is eerily similar to Seabass' last year. He ought to borrow Bass’ oar.
Don't forget to keep tabs on these four surfers on the cusp as the race for tour qualification turns into a sprint.