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35th Pipeline Masters anchors Vans Triple Crown of Surfing

2004 Pipeline Masters champion Jamie O'Brien : photo ASPWorldtour/Karen

Rip Curl Pro Pipeline Masters 2005


Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 20 April, 2005 : - - NORTH SHORE, OAHU, Hawaii – The world’s most dangerous wave.  Seven seconds of sheer terror.  A force of nature.  The most coveted title in all of surfing.  All aptly describe the final jewel in the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, the Rip Curl Pro Pipeline Masters.  Celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2005, the world’s longest-running pro surfing event will be staged at the famed Banzai Pipeline on Oahu’s North Shore, Dec. 8 to 20. 
The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, the world’s premier big wave series, begins with the Vans Hawaiian Pro (Nov. 12 – 23 at Haleiwa) and is followed by the O’Neill World Cup of Surfing (Nov. 25 – Dec 7 at Sunset Beach).  Both are six-star World Qualifying Series (WQS) rated and carry $125,000 prize purses.  The Rip Curl Pro Pipeline Masters is the grand finale of the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Championship Tour (WCT) and offers a $270,000 prize purse. 

“A Vans Triple Crown of Surfing title is considered by many to be the sport’s most coveted title,” said Vans Triple Crown of Surfing Executive Director Randy Rarick.  “This year’s crown is even more special in light of the Rip Curl Pro Pipeline Masters’ 35th anniversary.  It represents the opportunity to achieve greatness and a permanent place in pro surfing history.” 
The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing Series was borne on the strength and prestige of the Pipeline Masters in 1983: three separate events staged at three distinct locations along the most notorious seven-mile stretch of surf on earth.   Dominated in recent years by Hawaiian Sunny Garcia, a six-time champion, the Series quickly evolved to become the ultimate proving ground for professional surfers.  Each stop requires different equipment, unique strategy and incredible mental toughness.  And virtually everything that matters in the sport culminates at Pipeline—the World and Vans Triple Crown Series championships.
The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing Series begins at Haleiwa, a break that features a fast ride that peels off over coral reef, allowing a full spectrum of maneuvers.  In contrast to Haleiwa, the break at Sunset Beach is almost a half-mile out to sea and in very deep waters.  Subsequently, the waves can be up to 20 feet thick and up to four stories high. 
Pipeline rears up 50 feet from shore and showcases waves of up to five stories high that march shoreward before exploding upon a barely submerged coral reef.  Hitting with speed and power, these swells launch abruptly, ‘jacking up’ from just a few feet in height to 15 or 20 feet in a matter of seconds.  The effect of this is a hollow, barreling wave that has made the name "Banzai Pipeline" famous around the world. 
The first documented ride at Pipeline was in December of 1961 by Californian Phil Edwards (on an ill-suited longboard) and captured on film by legendary filmmaker Bruce Brown.  Californian shaper Mike Diffenderfer called it “Pipeline” after large concrete pipes being laid in nearby Kamehameha Highway.  Locals called the beach “Banzai” after the small beachside nursery of Bonsai trees.  A name that, coincidently, reflected the suicidal commitment it took to drop into one of these monsters that break with a tremendous, driving force over a barely submerged coral reef.
In 1971, long before anyone had heard of Todos Santos, Cortez Bank or Mavericks – snowboarding, BMX, FMX or wakeboarding for that matter – the Pipeline Masters was founded by Hawaiian Fred Hemmings.  Although Jeff Hakman won the inaugural competition that year, fellow Hawaiian Gerry Lopez was riding the wave with such a casual elegance that the contest was later named after him (ironically Lopez was not present in 1971 having been duped by the crafty Corky Carroll into thinking the event had been cancelled).  In 1972 and 1973 Lopez won the Pipe Masters with a display of surfing so beautiful that is caused Jim McKay, the legendary ABC announcer, to wipe tears from his eyes…on air.
The Pipeline Masters quickly grew in stature.  The NY Times declared a huge day in the early years as “A day of days on earth”.  Sports Illustrated published a cover story in 1982 called Thunder from the Seas.  ABC’s Wide World of Sports featured the event for nearly a decade.  A popularity poll ranked the event fourth, right behind Olympic figure skating and ski jumping.  The annual migration to the sport’s Mecca became a right of passage for aspiring pro surfers.  Major airlines were forced to add additional flights to accommodate growing numbers of spectators.
To the surfing world, a Pipeline Masters title is the pinnacle of the sport; surfing’s version of Valhalla.  The fraternity of winners is an elite group: Lopez, Rory Russell, Michael and Derek Ho, Dane Kealoha, Tom Carroll, Mark Occhilupo, Kelly Slater, the Irons brothers and the newest member to the group, 21 year-old Hawaiian Jamie O’Brien.  All brought their own individual style and personality in approaching Pipe.  But all are inextricably linked.  All are Pipeline champions.
The entire 2005 Vans Triple Crown of Surfing will be broadcast live on the internet at  The O’Neill World Cup of Surfing is the season-ending WQS event and determines which surfers advance to World Championship Tour for a shot at the world title in 2006.  The Rip Curl Pro Pipeline Masters will be the climax of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing and the 2005 ASP World Tour—the sport’s two most coveted titles. 
The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing title for women showcases the world’s top pro female surfers in their own back-to-back WCT events that run concurrently with the men’s Series.  The $65,000 Roxy Pro at Haleiwa (Nov. 12 – 23) is the penultimate event on the World Tour while the final WCT event for 2005, the $65,000 Billabong Pro is held at Maui’s Honolua Bay (Dec. 8-19).   Collectively these events determine the women’s ASP World Champion and the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing champion, as well as the WCT lineups for the 2006 circuit.
The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing is made possible through the support of a partnership of the world's leading brands and media companies including: Rip Curl, O'Neill, G-Shock, Surfing Magazine, Oahu's Turtle Bay Resort and Road Runner.

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Mike Kingsbury

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