OP PRO
SURFING CHAMPIONSHIP
OPENS IN HAWAI`I
Waves Excellent for Men's First Rounds


Round 1 (132) complete
Round 2 (96) thru heat 4 -|- partial matchups forRound 3 (64)

Haleiwa, HI (November 12, 1997) -- Right on schedule, the $70,000 OP Pro Surfing Championships opened at Haleiwa's Alii Beach Park today with excellent 3-6-foot waves, signaling the start of the 15th annual G-Shock Triple Crown of Surfing.

The Triple Crown Series is actually seven different contests offering approximately $325,000 in prize money. It is sanctioned by the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP). The Series draws competitors from an international pool of the world's best professional surfers, veteran and novice alike, and showcases them in huge surf -- a recurring winter phenomenon on O`ahu's North Shore.

The OP Pro features a $60,000 men's event, a $10,000 women's event and the OP Junior, offering a $2,500 scholarship to the winner. The men's division took to the water today and early heats featured a varied mix of novice and veteran entrants working their way through the six-man round one and the first four heats of the the four-man round two. How surfers finished in today's early heats was a reflection of their experience in Hawaiian waters.

Paul Paterson , 25, from Yallingup, Australia, is an anomaly, a non-touring novice who made some Triple Crown veterans sit up and take notice last year when he won the second Triple Crown men's contest . A four-year veteran of Hawaii's big waves, he only started competing seriously two years ago, and comes to Hawai`i for the big waves.

"I did a bit of the tour but not the whole thing," said Paterson, who was second to California's Dino Andino. "I tried (this year) to concentrate on surfing where there were better waves, so I spend a few more months in Hawai`i and hope for bigger and better things for next year. Today it was a bit messy but the set waves were really good and I hope they hang in there for the rest of the event."

Dayton Segundo, 19, a Haleiwa boy who entered his first Triple Crown last year, but hasn't yet competed in a Pipe Masters contest, couldn't find the right waves today and didn't make it through his heat.

"It was a pretty hard heat today and I thought my wave selection was pretty bad," Segundo said. "I just got caught inside, that's all. I'll try again next year."

Hawaii's Elijah Young, 24, is considered a fearless big wave surfer, but he didn't make it through his heat because he selected the wrong board for his last heat.

"The waves were good but my board was so small I couldn't really turn it well, I had to nurse it off the bottom," Young said. "Haleiwa's really a powerful wave; I should have ridden a bigger board. I expected the waves to be a little smaller but it picked up during my heat and I rode a 6-foot board when I should have used a bigger one."

"It's dangerous," said Tony Ray, 32, the voice of experience when it comes to the Triple Crown, who first entered the series in 1983. He won his heat today and with a lot of North Shore experience to draw from, his first piece of advice for the novice surfer is "be careful. You just gotta watch out here all the time here; the waves can pound you. If your board hits you it hits you twice as hard. You need to be on your toes at all time."

In contests Ray explains: "you just gotta go out and do it. In a contest it's only 20 minutes so you go out and do your best and there are lifeguards out there on jet skis. They can grab you if something goes wrong. Free surfing is a lot more dangerous, when people aren't watching, but controlled contest conditions are a good entre for a young surfer to get into big wave surfing.

"You get to surf some of the best waves in the world," Ray said. "Free surfing, because of the crowds you can never get a wave.During a contest you're out with three other guys and you get to see if you can really surf those waves. You'll know what you're made of."

After a dozen Triple Crown's, Marty Thomas, 29, agrees: "Nothing's better than experience, whether you're from here, or not. You're going to feel the jitters when you first come here. It's intimidating. If you don't do well the first couple of years its good to have that experience because it will pay off down the line.

Haleiwa Main Street and organizers of the G-Shock Triple Crown of Surfing and the OP Pro are offering a free mini-festival on Saturday, November 15th at Ali'i Beach park. Featured music includes Toto & Rashan, Justin & Pacific Blu, Local Jamm and special guests Hapa. The concert begins at noon and concludes at 4 pm.

SkyDive Hawaii will make a series of jumps throughout the afternoon and Haleiwa Main Street merchants will feature activities in town, throughout the day and evening.

Both men's and women's competition will continue tomorrow, surf permitting.

For more information:
Carol Hogan
Triple Crown - Ali`i Beach Media Center
808.637.4771 Fax: 808-637-1759.

Check out the official Triple Crown website at: http://holoholo.org/triplecrown/

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Last Modified: Wednesday 11/12/97 1809 HST
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