Jesse Mendes came into the Hawaiian season with his career on the brink. Ranked 29th in the world, his chances of qualifying for the Tour in 2019 via the CT were dicey. His prospects on the Qualifying Series were even more daunting. But anything can -- and usually does -- happen on the North Shore.
With a 2nd-place finish at Sunset, and a 5th-place result at the Hawaiian Pro, the first jewel in the Triple Crown, Mendes shot up the QS ratings to 6th (meaning he officially qualified for the 2019 Championship Tour via the QS).
But Mendes didn't stop there. His result at the Billabong Pipe Masters saw him earn his first Vans Triple Crown title, with newly-retired Joel Parkinson coming in 2nd place and Jordy Smith finishing in 3rd.
No.1: Jesse Mendes
"I was definitely nervous going into Hawaii, but the good kind of nervous," said Mendes. "I had barely any results on the QS before this and I was like 40th on the rankings. Then everything sort of worked itself out."
The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing embodies all the drama of six intense weeks on the North Shore
"This year my goal was to win the Triple Crown," continued Mendes. "I just focused on that because I knew if I won the Triple Crown I would have two big results at Haleiwa and Sunset, and Pipe would have been a bonus. So, somehow it worked out. It was God's plan."
No. 2: Joel Parkinson
Joel Parkinson lead the rankings for the first half of the Hawaiian leg - raking in points after his 1st place finish at the Hawaiian Pro QS 10,000. Parkinson fell into 2nd place on the rankings when Jesse Mendes made the Final at the Vans World Cup.
"The Triple Crown would be a nice way to go out," said Parkinson. "For sure, it'd be a nice fitting end. I feel this Hawaii season is a victory lap regardless of the results."
The Australian is the owner of a World Title, 12 CT victories and three Triple Crown titles. And while he came up just 1,000 points shy of taking the Triple Crown title this year, with his recent retirement he has more than enough reasons to celebrate.
"I feel like I don't have any stones unturned," continued Parkinson. "I have had heartbreak losses, sweet ass wins and lots of life lessons on the road. But I'm never going to surf again with the purpose of trying to win. I'm going to surf for complete enjoyment for the rest of my life and I will hold my word to that."
No. 3: Jordy Smith
The South African wrapped up the Vans Triple Crown with 15,600 points - a minor 500 points below Parkinson. Smith's Semifinal loss to World Champion Gabriel Medina at the Billabong Pipe Masters solidified the 2018 Triple Crown rankings.
"The heat with Medina was a close one," wrote Smith on his Instagram. "But all and all I had a fun competitive year. A lot of close calls throughout the season but that's what keeps me fighting harder."