|After 21 years, Kelly Slater (USA) made a historic comeback to win his third Vans Triple Crown of Surfing title by besting an international trio that included former Billabong Pipe Master Michel Bourez (FRA), Jack Freestone (AUS) and Ethan Ewing (AUS) heading into Finals day. It was a hard-fought race as this Vans Triple Crown saw one of the best seasons for surf in recent history, including all-time conditions at Haleiwa for event No. 1, the Hawaiian Pro, and massive, challenging surf at event No. 2, the Vans World Cup of Surfing at Sunset Beach.
“I’ve been planning this attack for 21 years [laughing],” said Slater. “The first two (Vans Triple Crown titles) that I won I really wasn’t even thinking about them because I was so focused on trying to win a World Title and focused on Pipeline at the time. I’m just stoked, I had a really fun finish to the year for me. I just want to say thanks to everyone, it’s been a super fun year and damn I wanted that thing today. If I got here this year and only caught that wave (the perfect 10-point ride during R/32 Heat 8) it would have been a success, so I’m stoked.”
The Vans Triple Crown is in its 37th year of crowning the best surfer of the North Shore competitive season and is the world’s longest-running annual heritage surf series. Culture-defining, the Vans Triple Crown is a highly-coveted title and legendary surfers the likes of Sunny Garcia (HAW), Michael and Derek Ho (HAW), Andy Irons (HAW) and Joel Parkinson (AUS) have had benchmark career moments from their victories here in Hawaii. Vans, partner and community centerpiece, has continued to advocate for world-class competition in parallel with North Shore activations and a robust sustainability program to help build a community-first mindset. While the Vans Triple Crown officially culminates with the finish of the Billabong Pipe Masters, it begins at the Vans Pro Men’s QS 3,000 with local qualification spots, a true testament to Vans’ commitment to the North Shore.
Only ten non-Hawaii athletes have claimed the Vans Triple Crown title in the past 37 years, two coming from the USA (Slater and Griffin Colapinto). The 11-time World Champion leaves today with a beloved trophy carved out of a broken surfboard by sustainable artist Ruben Aira.