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Op Hawaiian Pro

Haleiwa's Ali'i Beach Park, November 12-23, 1997

The sleepy, historic town of Hale`iwa has always been endearing to Hawai`i residents and visitors alike. Features such as false-front buildings, friendly faces and a rural pace all harken back to the Hawai`i of yesteryear. But as
Ocean Pacific kicks off the first event of the 1997 G-Shock Triple Crown of Surfing on Nov. 12, the town will be buzzing.

Now in its second year, the Op Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa's Ali'i Beach Park kicks off the G-Shock Triple Crown of Surfing. Running Nov. 12-23, the event encompasses three divisions:

* The Op Pro Men's event, an ASP World Qualifying Series, 3-star contest with 132 competitors vying for $60,000 in prize money and valuable ratings points.

* The Women's Op Pro, offering $10,000 in prize money and, as the second-to-last event on the women's world tour, extremely valuable ratings points for 40 female competitors.

* The Op Junior, an amateur event offering $2,500 in scholarships to 32 of the world's best surfers age 19 and under.

In 1996, Ocean Pacific officials shocked the surfing world when they decided to pull their tent pegs from Huntington Beach, where they had staged the popular Op Pro for 14 years, and moved the event to Hawai`i. Not only does the contest now become a part of the Triple Crown of Surfing, but Ocean Pacific also returned to the site of its first professional surfing contest: Haleiwa.

From the days of Mark Richards through the reign of Tom Curren and on through Sunny Garcia and Kelly Slater, the Op Pro served up countless classic battles for California spectators.

But Hale`iwa has also served up its share of drama as a professional surfing venue for the Hawaiian Pro. Few who saw it will ever forget when Ross Clarke-Jones took a 15-foot lip on the head in out-of-control conditions in 1991. Tom Curren won his first pro event in Hawai`i at Hale`iwa the same year.

And Richie Lovett catapulted into the Top 44 with a darkhorse win in 12-foot surf there in 1995 .



Last year proved just how good the combination of a historic event and historic venue can be. The surf throughout the inaugural Op Hawaiian Pro at Hale`iwa was stellar. In a classic final, Hawaiians Pancho Sullivan and Kaipo Jaquias slugged it out on the perfect Hale`iwa walls. Sullivan dominated early, scoring a perfect 10 by pulling into an impossibly deep barrel, disappearing entirely, and somehow emerging several seconds later. Sullivan seemed poised to take it all home. But through savvy wave selection and solid strategy, Jaquias came from behind to win the event--and later, the Triple Crown.

This year could have similar surf, with an El Niño pattern firmly entrenched in the Pacific Ocean and big surf the predicted outcome.

Come Nov. 12, the waves at Haleiwa's Ali'i Beach--from the time they pass under the buoys at the mouth to nearby Haleiwa Harbor to the time they turn inside-out on the final toilet bowl section--will be tested by the world's best, for better or for worse.

It might be a good idea to find a seat on the beach park's grassy knoll and watch history in the making. -- Blair Thorndike

World Cup of Surfing

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Last Modified: Wednesday - 11/12/97 0609 HST
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