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Six of the Triple Crown of Surfing events are offering more than $300,000 in prize money--$260,600 for the men and $47,500 for the women, with the men going after a winner-take-all $7,500 in the G-Shock Triple Crown prize pool, and the women going for an equal $7,500 winner-take-all pool, presented by Kahlua. The Juniors don't get to compete for money--yet--but the Op Junior is offering $2,500 in scholarships, and serves as an indicator for which Juniors will be going after the hard cash soon.

Almost as important as the money are the points. The contests of the G-Shock Triple Crown are the final events of the 1997 Coca-Cola Association of Surfing Professionals World Tour. All the competitors will be scrambling for position in the final ratings. Although the world title will probably have been decided by the time you read this (with Kelly Slater winning it for a record fifth time), other competitors will be battling to squeak in the back of the men's Top 44 and the women's Top 11.

Rob Machado at Pipeline. Photo by Rick Doyle

The Pipe Masters is the final event of the 1997 World Championship Tour. At the end of a long season--a dozen events in eight countries over 10 months--Pipeline looms as the final and biggest challenge. When Pipeline is thundering on the Second Reef and the world's best surfers are huddled nervously on the beach, the Masters is equal to any sporting event in the world. The world title race makes the surf doubly dramatic, and in its 26-year history, the Pipe Masters has been the scene of incredible title finishes, as favorites have choked and underdogs triumphed to win the title and the glory.

In the weeks leading up to Pipeline, dozens of intense little dramas will play out during the Op Hawaiian Pro and the Rip Curl World Cup of Surfing. These are the final two events of the 1997 World Qualifying Series, and they will determine which 16 surfers will make the cut, move out of the minor leagues and into the big leagues of the WCT .

The top professional women will subject themselves to similar dramas. The Op Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa Ali'i Beach will set the stage for the first ever Women's Triple Crown . The Quiksilver Roxy Pro at Sunset Beach is the final event of both the women's World Qualifying Series--where the top women will compete to qualify for next year's Top 11, and the final women's World Championship Tour event--where the Top 11 women will compete for the world title.

And as a sidebar to all of this, there is the competition for the Triple Crown Championship.

The Triple Crown title is second only to the ASP World Title as the most coveted honor in surfing, as it signifies which surfers are the most comfortable and consistent in Hawaiian conditions. And with the men's and women's titles most likely decided by the time the tour gets to Hawai`i, look for the real competition to focus on the Triple Crown title, and the $7,500 going to the man and woman who performs best through all three of the events.

As important as money and points and titles is pride. Hawai`i is where surfers come to prove themselves, to show their courage and skill in the most challenging surfing conditions on Earth.

Look out to sea. If the ocean seems angry, it is. The waves that break along the North Shore of O`ahu have traveled thousands of miles through the open ocean, only to be abruptly tripped up by the shallow reefs of the North Shore and die in an angry fury. The waves that break along the North Shore began as fast-moving, chaotic lumps, blown south by giant storms in the Gulf of Alaska. The energized chaos begins to organize as the energy moves south, through the deepest ocean. By the time these swells reach Hawai`i they are in their prime--organized, even and powerful, moving through the ocean like immortals.

And, in their prime, these huge open ocean swells are confronted by the coral and lava reefs of the North Shore of O`ahu. Whether these waves are breaking a half-mile out to sea--as they do at Sunset Beach or 100 yards from shore, as they do at Pipeline--they break with a furious anger that defies any puny human attempt to catch and ride them. But humans do catch these waves, and they do ride them. And the surfers who do it best do it with a courage and finesse that is every bit as spectacular as the raw intensity of the ocean. And that's what makes the 1997 G-Shock Triple Crown of Surfing so exciting--brave humans confronting a raging ocean with everything on the line--money, world titles, careers, pride.

Welcome to the Hawaiian Islands.

Welcome to the North Shore of O`ahu.

Welcome to the G-Shock Triple Crown of Surfing.

Welcome to one of the finest sporting spectacles on Earth.

Enjoy The Show.

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Last Modified: Sunday 12/14/97 2139 HST
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