Op PRO HANDS HAWAII’S SULLIVAN HIS FIRST VANS TRIPLE CROWN EVENT WIN
Haleiwa, HAWAII – (Wednesday, November 23, 2005) – The Op Pro had the honor of awarding Hawaii’s Pancho Sullivan, 32, his first Vans Triple Crown of Surfing victory after 15 years of trying. His win today all but guarantees him a place on next year’s elite Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Championship Tour (WCT), which will make him the oldest first-time WCT qualifier. He earned $15,000 for first place today and takes an early lead on the 2005 Vans Triple Crown Series ratings.
For years, Sullivan has been touted as one of the North Shore’s greatest surfers and those in the know have considered a Triple Crown victory to be inevitable… but no-one guessed it would be this long coming. Today, a combination of highly contestable six- to eight-foot waves and a year of determination to compete well came together for success. “I can’t even believe this has finally happened,” said Sullivan. “I’m one step closer to my ultimate goal: to win the Triple Crown. I surfed my first Triple Crown event at Sunset when I was 18…. I’ve always viewed Hawaii as the proving ground for surfers and to me, the Triple Crown has always been my chance to win a world title, because that’s how much it means to us here.” As for qualifying for the WCT: “That’s something completely different! I kind of let that part of my year go. When I got home from traveling all year, my focus was back on the Triple Crown, so I’m pretty psyched about it.”
Sullivan is now rated 11th on the World Qualifying Series (WQS) ratings. The 35-minute, four-man final was action-packed. The most heated exchange was that between Sullivan and world No.4-ranked WCT surfer Mick Fanning. Fanning with his accelerated bottom-turn into top-turn slashes, and Sullivan with his trademark power gouges and strategic tube rides. Fanning never lost his composure, despite a snapped surfboard leash on his first ride. After swimming to the beach, he proceeded to catch more waves than any other surfer in the final – nine, even holding down the lead at one point. Fanning finished second, earning $8,000. Third place and $6,000 went to Brazil’s Raoni Monteiro, and fourth was 20-year-old Huntington Beach, Ca., surfer Brett Simpson. Simpson, who had never made it to a final before today, earned $4,000.
“I wanted to get a few waves under my belt just to settle down a bit,” said Fanning, 24. “But I was just pushing it too hard at the start. The waves towards the end got me some good scores, but they unfortunately weren’t enough. But I’m really stoked for Pancho to have a win and push his ratings up. I’ve been following his ratings the whole year. He’s a legend. “Now I’m pumped to get another result at Sunset and keep my Triple Crown ratings alive and hopefully push for the win coming into Pipe.”
For Brazil’s Monteiro, this was his first Hawaiian final in his seven-year career. He finished the day at 9th on the WQS rankings. “I’m just completely stoked. For me, this is my first final in Hawaii. This is my seventh year on the tour. This year has been very hard for me. I haven’t had too many good results, so to be close to requalifying for the WCT is great.”
Huntington Beach’s Brett Simpson was the mystery man of the final, slipping under the radar as he systematically accounted for some serious talent: Australians Joel Parkinson and Luke Munro in the semi-finals, as well as local surfers Roy Powers and Ian Walsh earlier in the day. Simpson has jumped from relative obscurity to 20th on the WQS. “It’s my first year at this event, so this is a dream come true,” said Simpson. “I never thought I’d be in the final, but I just stayed confident and did what I could do. Surfing with those guys, I knew I’d have to surf to the best of my abilities, so I just went for broke.”
Surprise eliminations today largely came at the hands of the ocean, which occasionally bankrupted heats. Three-time world champion Andy Irons was one, losing in the round before the quarters. Jamie O’Brien was another, posting a paltry heat total of 0.37 of a point in the quarter finals, finding no good scoring ride in 25 minutes of waiting.
Defending event champion Sunny Garcia lost in the semi-finals today, placing equal seventh overall. It is still enough to keep him in Triple Crown contention. Garcia, 35, will be retiring from the pro tour at the end of this winter. “To get into the quarter finals, the semi-finals, you keep yourself in contention,” said Garcia “I’ve won the Triple Crown without winning an event before – it’s about the most consistent surfer… and my track record at Sunset at Pipeline are pretty damm good. So there’s next week. I’m back to the drawing board.”
The Vans Triple Crown was ecstatic to welcome Op back into the Series this year, having been an event sponsor back in the mid-’90s. This is the first of a three-year commitment by Op, who plan to develop this competition into a major community event in the coming years. The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing now moves seven miles along the North Shore for stop number two at Sunset Beach, which has a holding period from this Friday, November 25, through December 6. Men’s and women’s competition will be held on the best four days of surf during that period. Plenty of swell is forecast for the coming days, so competition could start as early as Friday. Happy Thanksgiving!
For a complete list of results: www.triplecrownofsurfing.com For up-to-the-minute surf forecasting: www.surfline.com . Surfline is the official surf forecaster for the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. Surfing events will be covered live on: www.op.com www.triplecrownofsurfing.com www.aspworldtour.com www.roxy.com/roxypro
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