WQS Tour Commissioner Travis Logie had no other option. With only five days left in the 2015 Reef Hawaiian Pro waiting period, time constraints were so tight that they had to kick off the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing — he even considered running 20 minute heats (as opposed to 25) in order to capitalize on waves forecasted for later in the week. That suggestion was met with a staggering "no" and competitors bobbed impatiently for the typical time frame. Conditions improved throughout the day as the swell filled in but not before we lost some fan favorites due to meager waves in the early morning heats. Mason Ho, Jamie O'Brien and Alex Smith were all casualties in the first round.
What’s going on with the qualification race?
With the cutoff point value hovering right around Ryan Callinan's 18,200 points, there are more than a handful of surfers who could potentially jump into the top ten and onto the big leagues for 2016. The added pressure is causing some to buckle and others to shine — which makes for great viewing for all.
Who's got the bullseye on their back?
All eyes will be on last years champion of The Hawaiian Pro, Dusty Payne. He enters the draw ranked 37th on the WQS and 35th on the WCT. The next two QS10,000s and final WCT event at Pipeline will decide if we will be seeing Dusty on tour for 2016. With last years 1-2 finish at Haleiwa and Sunset, he's looking dangerous but only time will tell if the injury that caused him to miss Portugal will hurt his performance. Fortunately for Dusty, he’s seeded in Round 3 and will don a jersey in great surf.
Any World Title hopefuls in the draw?
It's always a dilemma for the men in title contention to compete in the Triple Crown and risk hurting themselves before Pipeline. Filipe Toledo, Adriano De Souza, and Gabs Medina aren't deterred by the shoulder high surf and have their eyes set on the next best thing to a world championship. Where's Mick, you ask? The ratings frontrunner has been busy at home fulfilling philanthropic duties such as surfing with a kid who's got brain cancer and halting sex trafficking. In years past, Mick has used this time off competition to recharge the batteries and always seems to look sprightly come Pipeline. Owen and Julian are also in Australia enjoying downtime.
Oh yes, the commentators!
Due to the history of this event, the WSL staffs the commentary booth with some vocal chords you may have missed. Veteran voice, Dave Stanfield, had some golden quotes on opening day such as these: "They call him the panda because he eats so much", and "I like the Smith brother's surfing and I like their cough drops."
The standout of the day was…
An Italian national. Leo Fioravanti was the shining star of today's mediocre performances. At the Volcom Pipe Pro in the beginning of 2015, Leo fractured his spine and had to sit idle and watch his best friend, Kanoa Igarashi, obtain their mutual dream of qualifying for the World Tour. This certainly sizzled his sausage. In his opening heat, Leo out-spiced Triple Crown standouts Ola Eleogram and Kai Barger to move into round 2.
Waves. Lots of them. And power surfing that will never tire — not even after 33 years of the Triple Crown’s existence. —Jake Tellkamp