By Blake Lefkoe

It’s that time again. Powerful ocean swells that have traveled thousands of miles begin to explode on our reefs and shores. Salt spray fills the air, traffic congests the roads and surfers pile into Foodland, tracking sand throughout the store as they load up on beer and groceries. Hoards of watermen and women from all over the world descend on the North Shore lineups, while ocean and beach photographers vie for the best spot to capture the talent and tourists arrive in droves, flocking to the island to watch it all unfold. Winter has arrived.

Every November, for the last thirty-three years, the Van’s Triple
Crown of Surfing shows up to help kick start the season. The event consists of three contests and between the bleachers, massive tents, scaffolding, throngs of people, jersey-clad, world-class surfers and bumper-to-bumper traffic, it is impossible to miss any one of them. But before a single structure goes up, or the competing surfers even arrive, there is one reliable tradition that confirms, above all else, that the circus is indeed coming to town.

Each year a different artist is asked to design the artwork that will be used on the posters, t-shirts, banners, hats and other event paraphernalia. This year’s creation, and Freesurf’s cover, was painted by the infamous surf artist, Rick Rietveld, whose art contains a miasma of waves, old school, nose-riding longboarders, classic cars, Polynesian imagery, guitars and a scattering of famous people with trippy hair. All of the artist’s paintings have a very psychedelic feel to them, and the 2015 Triple Crown poster is no exception.

This is Rick’s second time creating the artwork for the Van’s Triple Crown. The first piece was made for the 1998 event and was another masterful blend of surfing and island life. The painter’s talent, creativity and sense of originality are extremely apparent in all of his work. It is no surprise that this California native has not only made a name for himself in the art world, but has also had a successful career in the surfing industry.

After graduating from a prestigious art school, Rick co-founded MAUI & SONS, a surfwear company that became famous as a result of
the art, designs and logos he created for it. When the entrepreneur eventually left the business, he was bombarded with work offers

from clothing companies and contest directors alike. In addition
to the massive contribution this designer has made to the clothing and poster world, he has also won numerous awards and his art has been published in a wide variety of magazines and collections. These days, the artist works out of his studio in Long Beach, California and divides his time between the two things he loves most, painting and surfing. Be sure to keep your eyes open for this year’s Vans Triple Crown of Surfing imagery and see Rick’s talent and creativity come to life on the North Shore.

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