The WSL is excited to announce that Vans, long-time community partner of Oahu's North Shore and original action sports footwear, apparel and accessories brand, is reinvesting in the Vans Pro presented by HIC, a Men's QS 3,000 event, by providing another meaningful opportunity for Hawaii athletes, honoring Champions of the sport and sanctioning the competition once again as the official local qualifying event into the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. The Vans Pro presented by HIC will take place on the three best days of surf from October 28 - November 10 and will be emphasized by a variety of community-conscious activations.
For 36 years, the Vans Pro has been awarding Hawaii's top local talent slots into the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing (VTCS), a six-week-long celebrated surf series that highlights competition, community, creative culture and sustainability and crowns the undisputed Champion of the North Shore's professional big wave season. The Vans Pro also launches the dramatic WSL Hawaii surf season, where title races, award distinction, prize money and the ultimate honor of World Champion and VTCS Champion converge with the onslaught of swell perfection.
Local athletes from Hawaii comprise 40-percent of the 112-man field, while an array of international talent will represent over ten different countries including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Peru, Portugal, South Africa, Tahiti and the USA. A handful of CT athletes will join the global competition to add world-class expertise at the famed wave of Sunset Beach, among them being Honolulu's Ezekiel Lau, 2011 Vans Pro winner and powerful standout at the formidable big wave venue.
While Lau is currently in the No. 24 spot on the CT rankings, he will use the Vans Pro and upcoming VTCS events to gain points and hopefully secure a fourth consecutive year on the CT. Sunset Beach represents a pivotal place in Lau's career as it marks the location where he all but clinched an inaugural spot on the 2017 CT after earning 7th place at the 2016 Vans World Cup, event No. 2 of the VTCS. An accomplished Hawaiian athlete, Lau is known for his technical power surfing and commanding presence in the lineup and will be a formidable competitor in the Round of 64 at the Vans Pro.
Other top-seeded surfers from Hawaii include CT constant and VTCS legend Sebastian Zietz, CT hopeful Barron Mamiya, and QS challenger Imaikalani deVault. Also returning to the competition this year is defending event winner, Kiron Jabour, who earned a maiden victory in his backyard at the 2018 Vans Pro. The roster is rounded out with another one of the world's best, 2017 VTCS Champion Griffin Colapinto.
"I'm really excited to be surfing and competing at home," said Jabour. "Sunset Beach has so many different faces, it is always a challenge trying to adapt out there, I love it! It keeps everyone on their toes. I really just want to be in a good rhythm with the ocean this winter in all my heats and really enjoy each wave I get. I want to push my surfing and always do something exciting! It would be a dream come true to win the Triple Crown."
Another unmistakable and recurring presence in the North Shore lineup is California-based Patrick Gudauskas who is looking to bring his Sunset savvy to the Vans Pro to better last year's 7th place result and get into a groove for the Hawaiian winter. Despite an admirable finish in the 2018 VTCS, Gudauskas was unable to re-qualify for the 2019 CT but stayed busy with other endeavors including a surfboard drive in Trinidad and Tobago with nonprofit organization, Positive Vibe Warriors, and becoming a father.
"Being a father has completely changed my perspective on so many things, in particular, competing," said Gudauskas. "It has opened up so many new inspirations and views on why I do it and why I love the challenges that you always face with the tour. My boy is my inspiration and I love the idea that I now get to perform for him to leave a great legacy for him to one day see and inspire his own journey forward. I'm excited for a big finish in Hawaii after missing a few events and have lots of personal goals for Hawaii, a win and a Triple Crown are high on my aspirations."
Gudauskas and brothers, Dane and Tanner, have strong ties to Oahu and will be part of an eight-week-long series of activations during the VTCS season, including a backpack donation in Makaha on October 25; Stoke-O-Rama - a free beach surf day to support local community water safety programs - on October 26 in Makaha; a movie premiere and athlete talk story on November 1 at Turtle Bay Resort's SURFER the bar; Vans Skate Jam on December 3 at Banzai Skate Park; and the Duct Tape Festival on December 6 at Pua‘ena Point in Haleiwa.
"I love returning to Hawaii every year," Gudauskas continued. "It's still the best waves in the world and the most important proving ground and performance surfing platform. For me personally it's my favorite place in the world and it makes me so happy to surf and compete in their waters! My brothers and I have been lucky enough to return every year and with the friendships of the local community who have now become family we have been fortunate enough to experience the amazing culture of the Hawaiians."
The WSL is continuing to partner with the North Shore Community Land Trust to help maintain last year's shoreline improvements to Sunset Beach, which includes native planting, fence repair and construction, plant watering and footpath maintenance. Please help preserve the coastline by treading lightly; only walk on designated sidewalks and footpaths, do not trample greenery, heed all parking signs and brush off sand before leaving the beach.
The Vans Pro will be broadcast LIVE on WorldSurfLeague.com, VansTripleCrownOfSurfing.com, Facebook.com/WSLLIVE, the free WSL app and on Spectrum Surf channels 20 and 1020HD across the state of Hawaii. The WSL encourages fans and visitors to enjoy the action from the comfort of home via WSL's leading-edge global sports broadcast - which will include live surfing and scoring, colorful commentary, athlete insights and story-telling, community updates, swell forecasting, the awards presentation and more - to minimize impact to the Sunset Beach coastline.