GOLD COAST, Queensland/Australia (Wednesday, November 21, 2012) – Sometimes when things aren’t falling your way, you’ve just got to change a few things. That’s the strategy I’m taking into the Hawaiian winter season and upcoming Triple Crown series. I came to Hawaii straight after I lost out in the Santa Cruz event. I just wanted to get back in some warm water and prepare properly for what is now my 14th season in Hawaii, a place I never get sick of.
I haven’t competed in the Triple Crown the last couple of years, even though I hold it second only in stature and prestige to the ASP World Title. For varying reasons, I focused solely on the Pipe contest, as the only Dream Tour event of the three, and didn’t spend as long here as in previous visits. Not this year, though. I decided I wanted to be in the Islands for the full six-week peak of the season taking in the Triple Crown. So I’m really looking forward to getting into an early groove of things. And getting some rather big barrels too! I’m spending the first fortnight at the Fox house right out front of Rock Piles with the team before my wife Tarryn and daughter Willow arrive for the last four weeks.
Already it’s looking like a good season. Talking to the locals, they say it’s been one of the best early seasons in history. They already had that crazy Jaws swell where all the boys just took paddle surfing to a whole new level. Plus there’s been some really good days out at Pipe. So fingers crossed that the swells just keep coming.
Having won the Triple Crown five years ago, I’m stoked to be back in competing in it again. It’s held over six weeks at three amazing world-class breaks, each event is totally different from the other and the surf could be one foot or 20 foot. If you’re not able to adapt to all conditions, you won’t be a contender. Equipment is a huge thing in Hawaii too, along with being focused and fit for the whole six weeks.
Over the Triple Crown’s 30-year history, the Hawaiians have dominated, winning the majority of the titles. Not surprisingly, this year they feature again among the hot favourites. Defending champ John John Florence and six-time winner Sunny Garcia spring to mind. Sunny is also in winning form after taking out the HIC comp at Sunset last week. Of course, the Triple Crown will be played out within the biggest talking topic of all – who will win the world title out of Joel Parkinson, Kelly Slater and Mick Fanning? Kelly has entered the Triple Crown. Interestingly, he is the only guy out of the three world title contenders who have. I guess Mick and Joel wanted some time at home after our busy back end of the year schedule to recharge the batteries and get psyched for Pipe. It’s going to be a massive showdown at Pipe. All three guys have had great success out there, making numerous finals each.
Kelly’s record is the best, obviously. He’s won it six times in his career so isn’t going to be without confidence. Joel is still leading the ratings though and Kelly has to make some heats to get back on a par with him if they are to go head-to-head through to the final with the title still up for grabs. Whoever finishes higher out of the pair after the quarters will win the Title. But if they get the same result from the quarters on, Kelly will win. Mick still has a shot at it and could get his third World Title. But he has to win the comp and Kelly and Joel must bow out before the semis for that to happen. When you then throw in all the Pipe specialists who compete in this event, you’ve also got massive potential for early upsets, meaning any three of the scenarios is distinctly possible.
Judging off form and watching how all the guys have been handling the pressure these last few events, I’d still place Joel as the favourite going into Pipe. He’s looking very relaxed and confident and has just been in tune with the ocean nearly every time he paddles out for a heat.
Personally, I can’t wait to see it all go down and I just hope it gets decided in epic Pipe conditions.
For me this year has been a tough one on the tour. I’ve had nearly all 13th placings, and only one 9th in France. It’s a bit frustrating as I feel I’ve been surfing well but without getting that break-through event.
That’s another reason I’m here for the full six weeks and wanting to get into the competition groove. There’s a great battle going on between about eight of us to finish inside the top 22 and secure our spots for next year. That’s our little side-battle to what’s going on around the world title.
I want to also do well to finish off a season that has also had its high moments despite those string of 13ths! My greatest moment so far this year would have to be that heat with Adam Melling out at Cloudbreak. I’ll never forget that experience. The waves were so big. And paddling out there on a borrowed board to the back ledge – not knowing where to sit or what waves to catch – definitely got the adrenalin pumping. We are so fortunate to have Fiji back on our schedule.
The tour is in good hands at the moment and there are many exciting things to come in the years ahead. But for now, onto the Triple Crown and that World Title showdown at Pipe.