HALEIWA, Oahu, Hawaii - (Saturday, November 23, 2013) - It has been five years since Tahiti's Michel Bourez scored the first major victory of his career here at the REEF Hawaiian Pro, but Haleiwa still holds a special place for him and continues to draw out his best. Despite unusually small surf for Hawaii at this time of year, Bourez put on a sterling performance today, closely followed by (/athletes/580/dane-reynolds)Dane Reynolds] (USA), Adriano De Souza (Brazil), and Mick Fanning (Australia). The Reef Hawaiian Pro is the first of three events of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing hydrated by vitaminwaterÂ®.
"It's a really special place because it was the first time that I won, you know," said Bourez. "Every year when I come back here I feel a good vibe, positive vibe, so that's why I'm still here, every year.
"If you don't win the world title the Triple Crown is the next trophy to get. It's really something that everybody comes to Hawaii to win. It's something really special for everyone, for sure."
Dane Reynolds definitely looked interested and highly competitive today. His two wave total of 18.27 points out of 20 (9.47, 8.8) consisted of precise and powerful maneuvering on a board he shaped himself. Reynolds says he felt in tune from the moment he woke up today and it showed in his enthusiasm and energy on the water.
"I just wanted to make sure I wasn't a walk over, you know?" said Reynolds.
"Definitely your first couple of waves matter a lot for confidence. I've just been surfing a ton of the North Shore. It's only been in the last week my hand isn't bothering me. I broke it about two and a half months ago, so I'm just trying to get lots of water time and feel confident on my surfboard. Surfing heats against really good surfers like that definitely will help you snap back into it quicker.
"Now that I'm finally pain free, I've been really, really psyched, surfing even one-foot (waves) and surfing three times a day. Just really enjoying surfing, it's easy to do when the water's warm and you've been surf starved for a while."
With a full one week flat spell between the last day of competition and today, current world #1 Mick Fanning jettisoned back home for a brief Australian respite. It paid off, providing him with more surf than anyone here could find, keeping him fresh and sharp for his Vans Triple Crown campaign.
"Yeah, I actually flew home and was lucky enough that out front of my house there was a perfect little left - exactly the same as this, so I was actually training while everyone was here," said Fanning. "It was good to take the dog down to the beach and hang out with the wife.
"I guess that's the excitement of (Hawaii), you never know what is going to come and it's great to see the different range of surf and I think that's why the Triple Crown is such a world class series. It's such a range of different surfers who can really show their stuff. You wake up each day and get to be excited that you get to go surfing for a job. I'm just having fun and stoked to be competing back here, its been a few years since i've done the Triple Crown, so I'm just happy to be in Hawaii and surfing."
As far as upsets go, Mitch Coleborn (Australia) suffered a slip today, finding himself completely out of rhythm in Reynolds' heat. Coleborn currently holds the last qualification position for 2014. Hot on his heels is Dion Atkinson, who advanced today and now has the opportunity to take over Mitch's position.
"I'm trying to treat it like any other event through the year and there's been a lot of events lately which have been pretty stressful, these last four in particular," said Dion.
"I feel like if I get the waves I'll keep getting through, so I'm just trying to focus on that."
The REEF Hawaiian Pro will crown its champion around midday tomorrow, running from the quarter finals through to the final. Following that, the action will relocate to Sunset Beach for the Vans World Cup of Surfing.