With the sport of surfing tracing its origins back to pre-contact Hawaii, it’s fitting that the North Shore of Oahu remains the Mecca of professional surfing to date. The first international surfing contest in Hawaii, the Makaha International Surfing Championship, was held in 1954 at Makaha, on the west side of Oahu. At the time, Makaha and Waikiki were the main surfing hubs on Oahu. The event ran annually in November or December through 1971 and was dubbed the unofficial world championships.
While Makaha introduced competitive surfing to the world with its Primetime coverage of the event in the early 1960s on ABC’s Wide World of Sports, the shortboard revolution was just beginning to take hold and surfers began looking toward the faster, hollower waves on Oahu’s North Shore. By 1970, tube riding became the new benchmark of high-performance surfing.
In 1971, with a card table, 10 folding chairs, six surfers and $1,000 in prize money, former world champion surfer Fred Hemmings staged the first Pipe Masters event (originally called the Hawaiian Masters). From this humble beginning, Hemmings saw the potential that the North Shore had to offer the sport of professional surfing and decided to create a series that would test surfers’ abilities at Pipeline and two other challenging, world-class waves. In 1983, he organized the first Triple Crown of Surfing and created a separate professional surfing title in Hawaii to set apart the three Hawaii events—the Pipe Masters, the World Cup of Surfing and the Hawaiian Pro—from the established international professional surfing circuit, to honor the best surfer male surfer in Hawaii’s big and powerful surf.
In its 32nd year, the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing continues a rich surfing heritage of progression, high-performance and power surfing. It is a series where careers are made, reputations are forged and mistakes can have dire consequences. The prestigious Vans Triple Crown of Surfing title is a professional surfing milestone, one that rivals that of ASP World Champion.