HALEIWA, Oahu/Hawaii - (Thursday, November 14, 2013) - After yesterday's dangerous and disorganized high surf, Haleiwa settled down and offered excellent conditions for the opening day of the REEF Hawaiian Pro today - the first jewel of the $960,000 Vans Triple Crown of Surfing hydrated by vitaminwaterÂ®. Marco Fernandez (Brazil); (/athletes/594/yadin-nicol)Yadin Nicol] (AUS); Gabe Kling (USA); and Hawaii's Sunny Garcia and (/athletes/765/ian-walsh)Ian Walsh] drew the most attention today. Waves were up to double overhead with clean conditions. Competition may proceed tomorrow, though waves are expected to be smaller. A call will be made at 7am.
Brazil's Marco Fernandez (Bahia), ranked 67th on the ASP World ratings, has a tall order ahead of him if he's to qualify for the elite ASP ranks for 2014, but his performance today gave him reason to believe. Fernandez, 22, was the top scoring surfer of the opening round - 17.17 points out of 20 (8.77, 8.4).
Fernandez has been coming to Hawaii for a few winters now, but has only surfed Haleiwa a handful of times, preferring the relatively uncrowded Sunset Beach lineup close to where he stays.
"I like the bigger waves and I usually surf at Sunset because it's close to my house," said Fernandez. "But the waves were very good here at Haleiwa today and I had a good heat. It was a great score. I'm ranked number 67, so I need big results here. Maybe a win? That's OK. I'll keep trying."
On the flip side of Fernandez's inexperience at Haleiwa, is Hawaii's Sunny Garcia: A 6-time Vans Triple Crown champion who surfed his very first competition here at the age of nine - back in 1979. Garcia, now 43, has won this event a total of five times between 1992 and 2004. He was on double duty today, competing against both the contemporary crew and the masters in the REEF Clash of the Legends exhibition event. He dominated both.
"Yesterday it looked like a river was running through Haleiwa," said Garcia. "I always like to surf big waves but i don't think yesterday would have been surfing, it would have been paddling.
"My approach has always been to wait for the sets and I was a little worried half way through (my heat). These young guys surf so incredible, for me to beat them I'm always going to have to have the better waves and bigger turns, and need all the size I can get.
"I like surfing against the younger guys, they don't hassle me as much. The Clash of the Legends is going to be a really good heat, going to be a really hard fought heat, and Michael (Ho) and 'Gerr' (Brad Gerlach), are guys back from the '80s... so those guys are no strangers to going out and hustling."
West Australian Yadin Nicol is right at home in Hawaii's pumping surf and power - similar to that of his home breaks. Somewhat baffled by why he's never done particularly well here, he was relieved to get a good opening heat behind him.
"I've spent about six weeks here every year for the last 10 to 15 years," said Nicol. "It's a good place to come in the winter, or our summer, and relax for a couple of weeks.
"I've always wanted to do good in the Triple Crown. I've never done good here. I don't know why. I would think that, I mean, in my opinion I suit these waves, but I've never had that much luck here. I just want to do good in the Triple Crown and see how it goes."
Big wave globe-trotter Ian Walsh only competes in a select few ASP world tour events, preferring to chase the biggest waves around the planet to competition. He proved what a versatile and adaptive surfer he is, transitioning from a free session in waves of up to 40 feet at Jaws (Maui) yesterday, to a 25-minute heat against three driven competitors at a much smaller Haleiwa today.
"Just transitioning from riding a 10'6" in big scary waves to today, riding a shortboard, is something a lot of people acquire growing up in Hawaii. That's something that being a product of your environment kind of helps with."
The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing hydrated by vitaminwaterÂ® is the world's premier series of professional surfing events that will culminate with a 2-man battle between (/athletes/553/kelly-slater)Kelly Slater] (USA) and Mick Fanning (AUS) for the 2013 men's ASP World Title. From November 12 through December 20, on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii, $960,000 in prize money and a number of highly coveted titles will be offered across three ASP sanctioned events, including the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing series champion.
Each of the three events of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing has a two-week holding period within which to run, requiring 4 days of excellent surf to be completed. To find out when the event is running, log on to: www.VansTripleCrownOfSurfing.com.