A Day At The Triple Crown

Between the sea, the surfers and the crowd on the beach, there’s nothing like a day at the Triple Crown, as Nathalie Walker and Yu Shing Ting of MidWeek found last week

Yu Shing Ting
Friday - December 09, 2005
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Cameras with huge lenses are a common sight, such as Joe Brown’s and Rocco Tramontano’s
Cameras with huge lenses are a common sight,
such as Joe Brown’s and Rocco Tramontano’s

Richard Lovett of Australia finds most of his board in the air, not water, on this monster at Sunset Beach
Richard Lovett of Australia finds most of his
board in the air, not water, on this monster at
Sunset Beach

Next stop: Banzai Pipeline. With the first two jewels of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing out of the way, surfers are now gearing up for the highly anticipated Rip Curl Pro Pipeline Masters and the highly prized Triple Crown title.

After spending a day at the O’Neill World Cup of Surfing (event No. 2 of the Triple Crown) at Sunset Beach last week with MidWeek photographer Nathalie Walker, I can assure you that you won’t want to miss the 2005 Pipe.

“We’re down to the final event and probably the most important of the three,” says Randy Rarick, director of the Triple Crown of Surfing. “It’s a WCT (World Championship Tour) event, and the final event on tour. And even though Kelly Slater won the world title, we still have the Pipe and the Triple Crown titles.”

For four days (Dec. 1-4), I woke up in the morning looking forward to spending a day at the Triple Crown. Instead, I arose to the news that the contest would be off because of poor surf conditions. Finally, on Monday, the waves were up and the Triple Crown was on. Only 32 surfers remain.


9:30 a.m. Nathalie and I head to the North Shore from MidWeek‘s Kaneohe plant.

After surviving a heat in dangerous waves, Nathan Carroll gets a hug from girlfriend Jessie Vivers
After surviving a heat in dangerous
waves, Nathan Carroll gets a hug from
girlfriend Jessie Vivers

Before heading out for his heat, Mick Fanning pauses to pray and pay his respects to the sea
Before heading out for his heat, Mick
Fanning pauses to pray and pay his
respects to the sea

10:15 a.m. We arrive at Sunset Beach and, not wanting to circle around to find parking, we spot a “Parking $5” sign at a house right across the street and pull in.

10:45 a.m. The horn blows. Heat six of round 32 has ended. The top two of four in each heat advance to the quarterfinals. Phillip MacDonald, Bede Durbidge, Yuri Sodre and local boy Kainoa McGee paddle back to shore.

“It was really hard to find the lineup,” says Sodre of Brazil, who won the heat with a score of 14.50. “It was 12- to 15-foot surf, and the waves were coming from the west and north, so it was all white water. At first I chose a small board so that I could make a lot of maneuvers to score better, but at the same time I couldn’t paddle and I was under the lineup. So I stayed 15 minutes in with the waves hitting my head because I wanted to go to the channel to my caddy to change my 7-foot board to my 7-foot-4-inch board. (Yes, like golfers, surfers have cad-dies.) Out in the water, we couldn’t hear the scores, but I knew I did good because the guys from Xcel were at the sand waiting and smiling. Usually when you do bad no one’s there.”

11 a.m. Heat 7 is on. Trent Munro and local boys Sean Moody, Nathan Carroll and Hank Gaskell are in the lineup. One by one they drop in on these monstrous waves. Carroll wins the heat with the best score of the day, 15.50.

Carroll paddles in and is immediately greeted with a hug from girlfriend Jessie Vivers.

“When I was paddling out there, I thought it’s really big, I better not get caught in that,” says Carroll. “Now I’m just happy to be advancing.”

“I’ve never been so nervous than in some of those heats that he’s in,” adds Vivers. “He’s been nervous every day, just waiting to find out if it’s on or not. I just try to help him to stay focused throughout the contests, making sure that he gets lots of rest and giving him massages. It’s hard because with the waiting period, we can’t go out because

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