It’s been a strange year for surf contests. COVID-19 canceled pretty much everything and despite the WSL’s best efforts to soldier on, things just didn’t work out. The Billabong Pipe Masters was suspended after the Coronavirus made the rounds and then, on January 5, Hawaii’s Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism announced a statewide suspension of surf contests due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But when it came to the Triple Crown, the World Surf League put its collective heads down and figured out a way to make it work. And now, John John Florence and Carissa Moore have claimed victory in the digital version of a contest we know so well.
Moore and Florence, of course, were likely winners — the pair are world champions and know Hawaiian waves extraordinarily well, after all — but the event format made their wins even more impressive. Instead of three events in the water, competitors filmed their sessions and sent in their best waves from Haleiwa, Pipeline, and Sunset to be judged.
Based on submissions between December 21 and January 15, the waves were scored by a panel of judges who used a mix of WSL criteria and Vans special criteria: self-expression, innovation, and progression as well as location-appropriate surfing. The two best waves from each wave were used to crown a winner.
“It’s a really cool event,” Florence told the WSL, “because it allows so much freedom and it really allows the surfers to go above and beyond on their waves rather than building a heat structure in that short 30 minutes and trying to get the best waves you can in 30 minutes.”
John John isn’t a stranger to winning the Triple Crown; this is his fourth title in the prestigious event. Other Hawaiian surfers who can lay claim to multiple wins are Andy Irons, Sunny Garcia, and Derek Ho, putting Florence in league with legends.
Moore, who has been pushing the boundaries of women’s surfing hard this year, spent just as much time in the water on the North Shore as anyone, despite the fact that she doesn’t live there. “I was pretty much surfing the North Shore almost every day,” Moore told the WSL. “I live in town but I was making the drive up probably five to six times a week.”
While every wave in the final was amazing, one of Florence’s stands out: THAT wave from Haleiwa.
“When I went into it, I just was thinking about doing a big turn and the face was so clean and I was riding a smaller board,” he explained. “I just felt like I was going a million miles an hour on it. It just felt amazing. And coming out of that turn, I wasn’t really expecting the barrel to be right there. I kind of just came up and I was like, oh, barrel. And it was just this perfect double up and I just stood there and then came out and had that end section.”
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The awards show, which can be seen below, honored all the talent who dropped clips over the course of the month.
See more at Worldsurfleague.com.