The Vans World Cup is the second jewel in the Triple Crown series. An annual event based at Sunset Beach, the contest is steeped in tradition and features an infamous, long and shifty wave that's a challenge for even the most skilled of surfers.
Waves at Sunset are spread across a huge playing field, making it a test not only of surf experience, but of fitness, too. Surfers must paddle almost without stopping to stay in the right take-off spot. Notorious for being unruly and complex, only a few have mastered the break. "It's fabulously imperfect," a sportswriter once said. "It can give you the ride of your life, but you've got to earn it."
Unlike other spots on Oahu, Sunset pulls in swell from the west to the northeast and has the potential to showcase some of the biggest waves during the Triple Crown. Traditionally, powerful maneuvers like big rail turns, deep barrels rides and under-the-lip hacks dominated as surfers with big boards did their best to muscle down Sunset's long, lined-up sections. But with the advent of shorter boards and high-performance surfing, competitors are able to pull off maneuvers in the most critical sections of the wave. Over the years, the sport's evolution has brought a new dimension of power and style to competitive surfing at the break.
As a Prime-rated (points-rich) ASP Qualification Series event and the last qualifying contest of the season, surfers battle it out for crucial points that determine their final ranking. For some, a good result means breaking in to or staying on the ASP World Championship Tour. For surfers on the bubble who fare poorly at Sunset, it can be a long, pensive flight home. Between the epic waves, the level of surfing and the high career stakes on the line, the World Cup is the ultimate drama.
World Cup of Surfing Champions:
2013: Ezekiel Lau (HAW)
2012: Adam Melling (AUS)
2011: John John Florence (HAW)
2010: Raoni Monteiro (BRA)
2009: Joel Parkinson (AUS)
2008: C.J. Hobgood (USA)â€¨
2007: Makua Rothman (HAW)
2006: Joel Parkinson (AUS)
2005: Jake Patterson (AUS)
2004: Andy Irons (HAW)
2003: Jake Patterson (AUS)
Find the full list of past winners and more about the Vans World Cup at vanstriplecrownofsurfing dot com. Tune in to watch LIVE daily at aspworldtour.com November 24-December 6.