Over the course of six weeks, Oahu’s North Shore plays host to one of the most prestigious, and most dangerous, surfing competitions in the world: the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing.
Second only to the World Surf League (WSL) Championship, the Triple Crown is the marquee event on the surfing calendar. Spanning three events at three renowned locations — Haleiwa Ali’i Beach Park, Sunset Beach, and the Banzai Pipeline — claiming the crown requires surfers to conquer powerful swells of up to 50 feet.
Hawaiian local John John Florence returns to defend the crown, hoping to claim the prize for the fourth time. Considering the year he’s had, there’s a good chance he’ll do just that. However, 2015-winner Gabriel Medina is also having a stellar year and there are a handful of Australians — Julian Wilson, Owen Wright, and Matt Wilkinson — who have claimed Championship Tour events.
Interested in a few predictions? Here are a few picks.
2017 Triple Crown of Surfing Predictions
John Florence wins his fourth Triple Crown
John John Florence may only be 25 years old, but he’s already reached the crest of professional surfing. He made his debut at the Vans Triple Crown at the tender age of 13 and won the event for the first time in 2011. He’s since claimed the crown two more times, including last year, and he’s back for his fourth.
As it stands, he leads the World Surf League by a steady margin despite only winning one tour event. If things go his way, he’ll be the back-to-back winner of both the World Surf League and Triple Crown. He’s the best surfer in the world right now; that’s always a contentious statement, whenever it’s made about anybody, but there are very few cogent arguments against Florence right now.
The Vans Triple Crown winner will also be the 2017 World Surf League champ
Given what I just predicted, above, that’s obviously going to be John John.
Florence is having another fantastic year on tour. His disappointing quarter-final elimination at the MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal allowed 2015 Triple Crown-winner Gabriel Medina to make up ground in the WSL standings, but John John still holds a sizeable lead. As long as he performs well at the Billabong Pipeline Masters, the final event of both the Triple Crown and WSL, he’ll end the year with another notch on his belt.
An Australian will win at least one event
With so many Australians in the mix, we should expect the Aussies to claim at least one of the three events. Julian Wilson, Owen Wright, and Matt Wilkinson occupy fourth to sixth-place in the World Surf League standings, and each have claimed one tour event this year.
Let’s not rule out surfing legends Joel Parkinson and Mick Fanning, who have both had quiet years so far but are still able to give the youngsters a run for their money. We know Parkinson is particularly dangerous at the Triple Crown, claiming the title three straight years from 2008-2010.
The winner of the Billabong Pipeline Masters also wins the Triple Crown
It looks like the series will be quite close, so it could come down to the Billabong Pipeline Masters to determine the winner. Gabriel Medina is fresh off two tour wins, the Pro Portugal and Pro France, and is looking to claim both the Triple Crown and the WSL from Florence. Fellow Brazilian Adriano de Souza, who won the Billabong Pipeline Masters, is also having a decent year. He won the Rio Pro this year and is a hot contender for the Triple Crown.