Haleiwa, HI (Sunday, November 24, 1996) -- Hawaii's Kaipo Jaquias today won the $40,000 OP Pro Surfing Championship men's division to cap off an exciting first event in the Red Dog Triple Crown of Surfing Series. Today's contest was made more exciting by the world's best professional surfers riding epic 10- to-12-foot performance waves that brought the large beach crowd to its feet. Jaquias, from Hanamaulu, Kauai, earned $5,000 and the respect of his peers as he moved into the winners circle with a series of consistently good wave choices. To get to the finals, Jaquias and his three other opponents -- former world champion Hawaii's Derek Ho, North Shore standout Pancho Sullivan, and Florida's Shea Lopez -- had to surf in four heats prior to the 40 minute final. Sullivan finished second and got $2,500, Ho was third-$2,000, and Lopez was fourth-$1,700.
"In Hawai`i you always have good surfing because the waves are so good. You'll always see good surfing here," said Jaquias. "Pancho, Derek, these guys are good. That's why they're here. They made the finals because they're good surfers. Anybody could have won."
Prior to the final heat, head judge Renato Bikel and the four finalists conferred and agreed only the top three wave scores would be counted because they had already been in three previous heats and needed to concentrate their energy on high-scoring waves. Jaquias concentrated on remaining calm. He caught only five waves but finished with 24.44 heat score to Sullivan's 24.17. His fifth wave averaged 9.60, and included a 10 from one judge.
Along with individual winners of each of the men's contests in The Triple Crown Series, a fourth title is also bestowed -- that of the Triple Crown Championship. Only a few elite surfers have ever won: Kelly Slater, Derek Ho, Tom Carroll, Michael Ho, Gary Elkerton and Sunny Garcia. The Championship is determined by points accumulated in the three men's contests, so winning the first event is a good start toward the eventual title and Jaquias has his sights set on that title too.
"It's like any other contest, once you reach this level you don't really
think about the whole picture, you just look at the little picture, and
that's catching waves and doing your best," said Jaquias. "The outcome of
that is the whole picture. It's easy to throw yourself off when you start
going 'oh Triple Crown,' then you start looking too far ahead. You need to
look at right there and then -- what you have to do to get there, and
that's to go surf hard and approach it as it comes.
"It's like any other contest, once you reach this level you don't really think about the whole picture, you just look at the little picture, and that's catching waves and doing your best," said Jaquias. "The outcome of that is the whole picture. It's easy to throw yourself off when you start going 'oh Triple Crown,' then you start looking too far ahead. You need to look at right there and then -- what you have to do to get there, and that's to go surf hard and approach it as it comes.
While Jaquias surfed carefully and consistently, Pancho Sullivan was in "go-for-broke" mode. In the second semi-final, with unbelievable triple overhead sets offering up some of the most spectacular surf and surfing seen at Haleiwa in the last 15 years, Sullivan took off right and made a very clean, long bottom turn square into a perfect 10-point barrel. He "crawled" through the collapsing last 10-feet and brought the crowd to its feet when he shot out. The international five-judge panel gave him perfect 10's. He was the only surfer in the entire event; men's women's or junior competition, to score 10's and posted the two highest heat scores of the day -- 26.84 in the semi finals and 25.63 in the finals.
But, just to make sure in the final he got another ten on his first wave and on his third wave posted straight-across 10's, again!
"The only thing I can say is I had a blast today," said Sullivan. "The waves were really good and I'm just really stoked that OP decided to come to Haleiwa. This is the epicenter of the surfing world and it's a shame that more sponsors don't get involved with the Triple Crown events here in Hawai`i. I feel that it offers some of the best and most consistent waves in the world.
"I'm just glad I got in the event," said Sullivan of his first Triple Crown final. "I received a seed (position) from the Hawaii Pro Am Circuit (HPAC), and that really helped out a lot. Not having to go from the trials all the way through gave me a little more confidence to start a little later in the event and not run out of gas."
"Growing up here on the North Shore and watching these events and seeing all the best surfers in the world, it's been my lifelong dream to one day be able to compete in the events and do well. I'm ecstatic." Sullivan said
The OP Pro is the first event of the Red Dog Triple Crown of Surfing Series and the second-to-last WQS contest on the ASP World Tour. The OP contest was moved from Huntington Beach, California to Hawai`i to be able to offer surfers a big wave competition. The company has made a commitment to sponsor the event through 1998.
The new hotline telephone number for updated, recorded contest informationis:
Media information: Carol Hogan
Triple Crown News Directory