Triple Crown of Surfing has once again come to Oahu’s North Shore, and with it hundreds of the world’s most accomplished professional surfers, their wives and/or girlfriends, their kids and innumerable surf industry company representatives. Certainly, the spectacle of three world class surfing competitions, the Reef Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa, the O’Neill World Cup of Surfing and the Billabong Pipeline Masters are what brings a nomadic tribe of surfers from all over the world to Oahu’s North Shore each year, but for most of the temporary denizens of the “seven mile miracle” of the North Shore, just being there during the winter wave season is the point itself.
There seems to be three schools of thought about the onslaught of people and vehicles onto two-lane Kamehameha Highway, creating traffic and parking gridlock and increasing chances for car break-ins and other opportunistic, petty crimes. This bothers many residents who look to the impending circus with apprehension each year. Personally, I grew up surfing on the North Shore, but the glut of media attention makes the trek from my apartment in town to the country more trouble than it’s worth (25 miles is a long way to ride with two surfboards on a bicycle).
But for area businesses on the North Shore, the winter wave season provides a windfall of revenue that, in many cases, provides a boon to get through the leaner months of the off-season summer months. Eateries, coffee shops, pubs, surfboard shapers and technicians, crafters, property owners looking to rent their homes and all manner of vendors are more than happy to see the crush of humanity invade the North Shore each year.
The third school of thought would have to be the state of mind of non-competitors who arrive either as companions or as soul surfers who come to Hawaii as a part of an international rite of passage. The North Shore of Oahu is the epicenter of the surfing world each year, a sort of aquatic Hajj, or pilgrimage, that every devoted surfer is compelled to make at least once. For those not competing, their stay here is rather like a vacation, free of the rigors of clocking in to work and other mundane aspects of adult life that we all face. Days upon days of enjoying perhaps the most beautiful seven mile stretch of accessible coastline in the world.
Competitively, the events of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, sponsored by Rockstar Energy Drink (sponsorships at the Vans Triple Crown are many and, frankly, a little confusing), are among the most important on the World Championship Tour and its feeder circuit the World Qualifying Series. In many years past, world titles for both the men and women have been decided at Vans Triple Crown events. With enormous pressure from sponsors, peers and a profound athletic competitiveness, the level of surfing at the Van’s Triple Crown is of the highest caliber to be witnessed anywhere in the world.
While the quality of surf varies from year to year due to global atmospheric and oceanic conditions, the North Shore of Oahu has always, and always will, deliver the best waves to be found at any time anywhere on Earth.
Obviously, if the people most adversely affected by traffic, parking, crowds and stores that run out of beer still choose to remain on the North Shore during its busiest time of year, it’s no small wonder that thousands from all over the world are willing to brave the temporary population boom.