The Vans Triple Crown Of Surfing Returns In 2023
Can anyone beat John Florence and Carissa Moore in a three-week window?
Three weeks. Three waves. Six rides. One alternative board. Start your engines.
The 40th annual Vans Triple Crown of Surfing will run this winter from January 3-23, 2023 — a shorter competition window than we’ve seen the last two years with the digital format. Previously, surfers had from around mid-December until mid-January to submit their best clips.
Aside from the time crunch, this year’s contest is very familiar to what we’ve seen in 2021 and 2022. Surfers are scored on their top two (documented) rides from three locations—Pipeline/Backdoor, Sunset Beach and Haleiwa. Surfers can earn prize money for the most points scored at each location, but only one man and woman will be named 2023 VTCS champions for the top cumulative score from the three lineups. And just like last year, one ride from any of the three lineups must be on something other than a modern setup or thruster. That could be anything from a single-fin at Pipeline, a mid-length at Sunset, or an asym at Haleiwa. Use your imagination!
Last winter, Carissa Moore and John Florence repeated their digital titles. Carissa swept the podium at all three locations. John got third at Pipeline behind Crosby Colapinto and Billy Kemper, but doused the competition at Sunset and Haleiwa.
But will this be the year someone gets past Carissa and John at all three waves? Jack Robinson has come close to the eldest Florence brother, and Croz’ Backdoor bombs are hard to deny. On the women’s front, Moana Jones Wong has never looked more dangerous at Pipeline. But when Haleiwa and Sunset show their signature walls, we’ve yet to see challengers overtake the Hawaiian world champs, whose local knowledge and frontside carves have wrapped up numerous accolades and a good amount of cash.
For nearly four decades, the VTCS title has been awarded to the most consistent surfer across three contests in a span of two months at Haleiwa, Sunset, and of course, the Pipeline Masters. It cemented the legacies of the sport’s biggest names, like Michael and Derek Ho, Kelly Slater, Andy Irons, and the winningest VTCS surfer ever, Sunny Garcia (Six!) But it’s also given opportunities for underground locals to make their mark, like Kaipo Jaquias (1996) and Myles Padaca (2001).
The video-based format provides a unique playing field for anyone willing to throw their hat in the North Shore mix. Surfers you rarely see in a rashie or on six-foot thrusters are now fully in contention. That said, it’s no small feat to be on the best waves at all three locations and tear them to bits in just three weeks with 100-plus pros trying to do the same thing. Case in point: John said last season he logged multiple 6.5-hour sessions burning between 4,500-5,500 calories under the tropical sun. That’s the kind of pace it takes to win.
“It’s like a free surf contest,” he said on The Pick-Up. “It’s kinda harder and more stressful than a normal contest because it’s a month-long contest.”
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