After claiming the first event of the Vans Triple Crown - the Hawaiian Pro - world champion John John Florence (HAW) now heads into the Vans World Cup of Surfing, November 24 - December 6, with the ratings lead and hometown advantage. The final event of the World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS), the Vans World Cup will determine the elite 34 athletes for the 2017 WSL Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour (CT) in a highly competitive format.
Florence secured his first professional career win at Haleiwa during last week's Hawaiian Pro, the first event of the Vans Triple Crown. With yet another victory added to his year of triumph, John John moves into Sunset looking unstoppable. As the top ranked seed entering the Vans World Cup, Florence will match up in Round 3, while other QS competitors battle the stacked 128-man playing field.
With a fresh win at Haleiwa and standout performances at Sunset - Florence won the Vans World Cup in 2011 and went on to claim the Vans Triple Crown title that same year, and again in 2013 - all eyes are trained on John in anticipation of total domination this Hawaiian season.
This event marks the last chance for qualification and surfers are fighting to make either the top 22 on the CT or top 10 on the QS after the Vans World Cup concludes. Regional surfers like Keanu Asing, Ezekiel Lau and Sebastian Zietz are on the cusp of a momentous step in their careers, each depending on a solid result at Sunset to catapult them into 2017. With everything on the line, the Vans World Cup is the highest-stake event of the year.
Lau currently sits in the 15th position on the QS after dropping two places post Hawaiian Pro and would need a 13th place finish at the Vans World Cup to qualify. But count on a confident performance from Zeke at the big wave venue.
"Surfing Sunset Beach has been second nature to me," said Lau. "I didn't try to put time in there or work really hard to figure it out. It just happened over time. I grew up surfing here my whole life. There will be no pressure. It will be just like another day of surfing for me."
The Hawaiian won the event in 2013 and the HIC Pro in 2011 and his power surfing bodes well in the extra-large surf at Sunset Beach.
"I'm really looking forward to the Sunset event," continued Lau. "It's the last event of the year and I'm looking to go out with a bang."
Portugal's phenom, [Frederico Morais]/athletes/1343/frederico-morais), saw a huge jump in ratings after his runner up finish at the Hawaiian Pro, moving up 18 spots to No. 10 on the QS. Now in a prime position to qualify for the CT, Morais will put his versatile technique and athletic capabilities to the test at surfing's greatest stage.
Morais made the Finals at the Vans World Cup in 2013 and looks forward to the second leg of the Vans Triple Crown.
"I'm relaxed, I love Sunset, it's a really good wave," said Morais. "I've had fun there and I guess I have nothing to lose. I'm just going to enjoy myself and hope to get through some heats, make a final maybe."
Marc Lacomare (FRA), part of the European force, also had a phenomenal performance at Haleiwa, which saw him jump up 31 spots to No. 21 on the QS. After a third place finish at the Hawaiian Pro, Lacomare is eager for a comeback at Sunset and will need a 9th place finish or better to qualify.
Eighteen-year-old Griffin Colaptino (USA) made an early impression in Hawaii and now leads the Vans Triple Crown Rookie of the Year ratings. One of the most inform teens this season, Colapinto landed a massive inverted air-reverse in Round Two at the Hawaiian Pro and has proven he can advance amongst the world's best.