The 36th Annual Vans Triple Crown of Surfing fired into action on opening day of the holding window, as Round 1 of the Hawaiian Pro saw North Shore standouts like Kiron Jabour, Finn McGill and Mason Ho claim their stake in Round 2 alongside international QS hopefuls Victor Bernardo, Noe Mar McGonagle and Adin Masencamp. The Hawaiian Pro is a Men's QS 10,000 event and will count toward 2019 CT qualification, plus an early lead on the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing (VTCS) Champion title.
Jabour is riding high with confidence after his recent win at the HIC Pro Men's QS 3,000, which took place at Sunset Beach as the local qualifying event for the VTCS, and easily surfed his way into first advancing position with a combined heat total of 11.00 (out of a possible 20). He applied keen wave selection while tallying four waves and earned the highest score of the heat, a 6.50, utilizing stylish and committed surfing.
Jabour's win on home turf instilled a renewed confidence in the surfer after a year of competing on the QS with mediocre results. Ahead of the Hawaii season, he spent time in Portugal and enjoyed preparing for an above-average winter of waves, which is expected thanks to a trending El Niño weather pattern.
"(Portugal) is great practice for over here with all the reef breaks, I got to paddle Nazaré before I came here and I got to even feel a big board, big energy," said Jabour. "It's perfect pre-season for the winter over here. I love it." He and Big Island athlete Torrey Meister will surf in Round 2 once competition resumes.
Brazil's Victor Bernardo posted the day's highest single wave score, an 8.33 for excellent power surfing in Round One Heat 9. Bernardo attacked his final wave of the heat with a solid snap off the top and then flowed into a big, wrapping turn and completed the ride with a committed closing maneuver. He and fellow advancing competitor David Van Zyleliminated two local athletes - Noah Hill and Sheldon Paishon - on their hunt for points and prestige.
Bernardo arrived early to Hawaii for a competitive warm up at the HIC Pro; 2018 marks his third consecutive showing in the VTCS. Currently ranked No. 67 on the QS, he will improve his standings if he can maintain rhythm and forge a strong finish at the Hawaiian Pro.
"I just try to come here and stay as long as I can and surf here, get used to the waves," said Bernardo. "It's way more powerful and it gets bigger, I'm not used to that in Brazil so I always take advantage of the opportunity to come here."
Freshly crowned 2018 WSL Hawaii/Tahiti Nui Regional QS Winner, O'Neill Massin, moved onto the next round after advancing behind Jack Robinson in an internationally mixed, competitive heat. Robinson was able to secure two mid-range scores - a 5.17 and 6.33 - while Massin earned second after scoring a 6.07 on his final ride. Massin won the regional QS circuit at the HIC Pro after a runner-up finish to Jabour, which was his goal for 2018, and now looks forward to enjoying his time competing in the VTCS.
"I feel confident, just have fun, no pressure," said Massin. "I did my job, I said my goal was the regional, so I'm stoked to be here in Haleiwa and in the Triple Crown… I think for next year my goal will be to win the Triple Crown and qualify for the CT."
Robinson displayed a well-rounded repertoire today and switched up his usual big wave game with the smaller surf on offer at Haleiwa. With good wave selection and consistency, Robinson moved one step closer to his ultimate goal.
"That's the whole goal is to get to the tour," said Robinson. "When I come here and see these two events, get to the end of the year, I can't do anything else other than just go out and surf, and that's when I do my best. Just go out and try to find the best waves and let it all go from there. Whoever gets the best waves gets to show what they've got and that's who you're sparring against. Can't do much else other than just surf, that's what it's all about in these events for me."
Many athletes took to the air in the ramp-like waves today, but the flying standout was Tahiti's Mihimana Braye who earned a 7.00 on a tail-high air reverse - his highest and cleanest aerial maneuver of Heat 4.
"I've been training at my home break of Papara and the left is kind of similar to this," said Braye. "I'm feeling confident, I have some good boards, my DHD works good. I'm feeling good and can't wait for the next one." Braye went against a stacked heat that included Hawaiian phenom Mason Ho, Maui's upstart Cody Young and Gatien Delahaye.
"It was a hard one actually, first heat is always the hardest one," Braye continued. "You want to get your rhythm going so I'm pretty stoked to make this heat. I felt a little bit stressed at the beginning catching some waves, but after I was like, ‘okay I need to go for it. I need to boost if I want to get some scores. It's a 10,000 so you have to step up your game and show your real level."