A Bugs Eye View

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The 2007 {{{Vans}}} Triple Crown has launched into the Hawaiian season at full pace, with the Reef Hawaiian Pro not only getting through the Men's field to the point where the top seeds enter the fray, but concluding the Women's event.

After a La Nina induced doldrums produced the slowest start to a surf season on record, event directors Randy Rarick and Bernie Baker waisted no time in jumping on a nice 5-7' stream that lasted three days. The swells started arriving at dawn on the first day of the 13 day waiting periods, with Men's and Women's action sharing Day 1, a big day of Men's program Day 2, then a fantastic day of surfing in fun, performance size Haleiwa yesterday to climax the Reef Hawaiian Pro Women's.

Big congratulations to local lass Megan Abubo on her stunning victory. Megan surfed up a storm all day, her local experience shining through, but the old adage “necessity is the mother of invention” clearly kicked in from the Quarter Finals on. Once Megan cemented her spot on next years ASP Women's Tour she went to work on claiming the Reef Title and staking her claims on the 07 Vans Triple Crown.

Great to see Katrina Petroni and Leilane Gryde make the Reef Hawaiian Pro Final. This effort clinched a maiden birth for Florida's Katrina, she now gets to follow in the mighty big footsteps of 4 times World Champion Frieda Zamba and 4 times World Champion Lisa Anderson. I'll say it again, there's got to be something in the water in Florida!

Anyhow, Katrina now arrives on the international scene in a big way. When they were 11 years old, Katrina and Steph Gilmore used to surf Rainbow Bay. I swear, it was like watching mini versions of Layne and Lisa. It was kind of surreal, Mick, Joel and Dean were 13 year olds behind the rock at Snapper and Katrina and Steph were doing ridiculously good surfing down at Rainbow. Also great to see Leilane get a result, the Big Isle surfer came within a hairs breath of qualifying last year, then got herself injured and is now setting up a 2008 campaign.

Haleiwa was kind to the campaigns of quite a few girls, while others now have to rely on results going there way in the remaining two Women's WCT events at Sunset and Haleiwa. In all, eight gals secured their berths for next year, but it really boils down to the performances of four girls, Roseanne Hodge, Claire Bevilacqua, Caroline Sarran and Rochelle Ballard. Of these, Hawaii's Ballard has by far the most experience and pedigree, especially at Sunset. But she also has the most ground to make up, probably needing a win and a second to requalify.

Caroline, Claire and Rosey have reasonably limited experience at these breaks, although Claire has performed well at Honolua, and will need to pull out some big results if they are to catch and overtake Rebecca Woods and Amee Donohoe. The two girls who will be most at risk though, Serena Brooke and Nicola Atherton, will have to sit on the sideline and keep the faith in the established order holding the fort for them. And a big congrats to Brazil's Jacqueline Silva, clinching, well actually romping in with the WQS #1 ranking for the second time.

On the Men's front it is definitely crunch time on the WQS. After several rounds of the Reef Hawaiian Pro the top seeds are coming on stream. As I stated a month or so ago, this is a very difficult arena to have to make up ground. The perennial strategy is to have your 7 counting results in the can before Haleiwa. Reason being that with over 30 of the Top 45 in attendance, plus a host of local experts, plus a raft of guys desperate to hold off all challengers from below on the ratings, these two events at Haleiwa and Sunset have a cauldron like atmosphere.

Women’s Reef Hawaiian Pro winner Megan Abubo

It is not unexpected that leading members of the Top 20 dominate proceedings and take the lions share of the spoils, but there is a bunch of locals and surfers from the outer islands, including this year TJ Barron, Kekoa Bacalso, Sean Moody, Tonino Benson, Daniel Jones, Nathan Carroll, Roy Powers, Dusty Payne, Evan Valiere, Dustin Barca and Jason Shibata standing between the WQS surfers on the wrong side of the bubble and a Final's berth in the Reef Hawaiian Pro.

The Vans Triple Crown is an awesome series, it is basically the only time all year you will see the top WCT guys going hard at the QS level. Why? Because apart from the chance to surf some of their dream locations with three other blokes, winning the Triple Crown is big. That's what makes the presence of former ASP World Champion Sunny Garcia so special at Sunset. We all know Sunny has paid his dues this past year, he has really been through the wringer, but he is back larger then life at Haleiwa, the 6 times Vans Triple Crown Champion and multiple winner at Haleiwa is a real and visible threat.

Anyhow, it's that great time of year. The Christmas decorations are going up and the first winter swells are rolling into Oahu's North Shore. This is what it's all about, all the training, all the mental preparation, all the daydreaming. It's about putting it on the line and pitting your skills against the might of the North Pacific. Game on.

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