Might it finally be young Jack's time?Photo: Shannon Cavarocchi/Arakawa
Heading Into The Triple Crown, Who Needs What To Make The Big Show?
A forensic analysis of Haleiwa and beyond.
The Triple Crown window opens tomorrow, didn't you know?
It's Haleiwa first, then Sunset, then Pipe—the same way it's been since 1734, when Duke Kahanamoku sent Eddie Aikau the now-infamous DM: "Grab Gerry Lopez, we've got some Australians to bash!"
After that historic whomping, Gerry, who allegedly took down eight Aussies with one stylish leg swoop, realized that his power was too great and retreated to a life of yoga and Pipeline mastery. Meanwhile Duke, who was hardly winded from the 3-against-20 tussle, used his excess energy to knee-paddle into a Sunset Point grower, which with two great thigh extensions, saw him traverse the vast ocean plain and stand in a west bowl tube. And Eddie, having grown bored of 50-foot Waimea, paddled out to Haleiwa and stuck the first-ever full-rote on his 7'10 groveler.
And thus the Triple Crown was born.
Below, using numbers and subjective scrutiny, we'll investigate how the 2019 Triple Crown will affect next year's crop of CT surfers. While not of a Duke, Eddie, or Gerry caliber, they're still worthy of our consideration.
The QS Top-4 is guaranteed* to qualify.
If the CT, like the QS, was run in primarily left-breaking beachies, goofy-footed Brazilians would be surfing's master race. Just look at the current QS top four—Jadson Andre, Yago Dora, Alex Ribeiro, and Miguel Pupo. When you add Gabby and Italo to that list, who could defeat this army of well-tanned, supremely explosive, right-foot-first fraternizers?
Because each of the aforementioned surfers has at least a 3,000-point gap over the fifth-ranked QS competitor (Jake Marshall, 17,950 points), it would be borderline impossible for any of them to fall out of the QS top-10, or as it currently stands, top-11 (as Deivid Silva, number 10 on the QS, is currently double-qualifying).
Anybody in the Triple Crown (yes, literally anybody) could theoretically qualify for the CT.
As referenced above, California's Jake Marshall is the highest-ranked QS surfer with a legitimate (albeit small) chance of being ousted from qualifying status. Also included on that list are Frederico Morais, Jorgann Couzinet, Connor O'Leary, Samuel Pupo, Deivid Silva, and Matt Banting.
The question is, who's in the position to make the leap? Well, everybody.
With the lowest current qualifier (Matt Banting) holding 16,750 points, and with both the Haleiwa Pro and Vans World Cup offering 10,000 points to their winners, it's theoretically possible for any of the 128 surfers in the Triple Crown to win these two events and earn enough points to qualify for the CT.
And while that may sound far-fetched, it's (basically) happened before. At least twice.
Back in 2014, Hawaii's Dusty Payne was ranked somewhere near 50th on the QS standings. This is back when "Prime" events were worth just 6,500 points, meaning that their impact on a surfer's cumulative QS score was not as great as the current 10,000 events. So, 50th was about the lowest a surfer could be ranked to still be in contention for CT qualification heading into the Triple Crown. And Dusty practically needed to win both events to achieve that end.
As many of us remember, Dusty won Haleiwa in high-flying final over Julian Wilson then placed second at quintessential Sunset Beach behind a raging Spartan. Those finishes pushed Dusty to number 10 on the QS, allowing him to qualify for the CT in a dramatic, last-second fashion.
Sebastian Zietz followed the exact same path in 2012, achieving a come-from-behind qualification with a win at Haleiwa and a third at Sunset. He then finished with a fifth at Pipe to add a Triple Crown on top.
It's unlikely, but oh so possible for the same to happen this year. (Looking at you, Coconut Willie.)
Who's on the bubble?
There are also surfers on the CT bubble who will be looking to back up their qualification status on the QS. These include Griffin Colapinto (20th CT/35th QS), Deivid Silva (21st CT /10th QS), and Conner Coffin (19th CT/sub-100 QS). Interestingly, the 22nd-ranked CT surfer, Peterson Crisanto, is not signed up for the Triple Crown, despite the fact that his CT slot will be the first to go with the inevitable shake-up at Pipe. I guess he really backs his tube-riding...
Some other CT notables who, without a huge result at Pipe or in the first two Triple Crown events, will be on the sideline in 2020, include: Zeke Lau (28th CT/48th QS), Sebastian Zietz (27th CT/sub-100 QS), Michael Rodrigues (24th CT/sub-100 QS), Willian Cardoso (23rd CT/sub-100 QS), Joan Duru (26th CT/29th QS), 2018 Triple Crown winner, Jesse Mendes (27th CT/28th QS), and several more.
It would also be smart for Leonardo Fioravanti, who is currently ranked 30th on the CT after an injury-laden 2019 season, to earn a QS requalification through the Triple Crown, as logic dictates that Adriano de Souza and Mikey Wright will probably be granted the WSL's two 2020 CT injury wildcards ahead of Leo.
The forecast is spicy.
Surfline tells us that there will be not one, not two, but three sizable northwest swells during the Haleiwa waiting period, meaning that only true Lions of the North Shore will prevail. Kittens best get to scamperin'.
While everyone in the Triple Crown technically has a chance to qualify, there are some surfers whose styles are better suited to the Hawaiian terrain, and others who we simply want to see on Tour, so we'll add them here.
Jack Robinson: Robbo is the most universally desired surfer to make the 2020 CT. His abilities are undeniable and will flourish far more in CT-caliber surf than on the wretched QS. That said, Jack has had great historical success in Hawaii (a past winner at Sunset and runner-up at Pipe) and seems to have taken a liking to Haleiwa this season. Robbo's also ridiculously focused, telling Stab that he's "only been surfing and meditating" in the lead-up to the Triple Crown (read: no beers). Currently seeded at number 20, Jack needs at least one big result to qualify.
Barron Mamiya: Like Jack, Barron's surfing is adored by all and perfectly complements the Hawaiian power. Sitting at number 12 on the rankings, B needs just one semi-solid finish to stamp his ticket to Snapper.
Ethan Ewing: Ethan's had a tough time on the Quey since his premature departure from the Tour, but at some point, talent must prevail. Two decent results here and he's back where he belongs.
Wiggolly/Weslley Dantas: It's been theorized by climate scientists that if we could create an endless, six-foot right-hander, the Dantas brothers' backside sprays could fill the hole in the ozone layer and stop global warming altogether. Surely one of them will find enough lips to smash at Haleiwa and/or Sunset to make the QS top-10.
*Ok, not technically guaranteed, but with such a slim chance of being overtaken, it would require a statistical anomaly to hinder their progression.