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Billabong Pipe Masters

Faces of the Vans Triple Crown - Pt. 6

Dec 13, 2016

North Shore's favorite son, John John Florence.


North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii
2016 WSL World Champion
2X Vans Triple Crown Champion (2011, 2013)
12th Vans Triple Crown

Best memory
I would say my best overall memory was one of the years I won the Triple Crown. It was the year I won the Sunset event (2011).

Heaviest moment
There has been some heavy moments for sure, just some big days when I was younger and pretty scared. But mostly good memories, you know. There has been some times when I’ve had some heats out here and it was just the biggest best Pipe or the biggest and best Sunset with no one out. You just can’t help but laugh to yourself. It’s amazing.

"Andy had so much aggression in his surfing and some of his heats really inspired me to be where I am today."

What comes to mind when you hear Vans Triple Crown
Vans Triple Crown is the event that everyone wants to do good at. It’s where the most pressure comes down. There are so many things to describe it, it’s the one you have to be ready for any kind of condition: wild, small, big, perfect. Whatever it is, you gotta be ready!

Favorite event
They are all my favorite events but Pipe, mostly. It’s just such a fun event, it’s my home break and I surf out here all the time. To be able to surf out there when there's no one out and it’s really good, is one of my favorite things in the world.

Favorite past champion
Probably Andy, he had so much aggression in his surfing and some of his heats really inspired me to be where I am today. To watch him and Kelly battle in finals at Pipe, to watch him win Vans Triple Crown and world titles were all pretty inspiring to me.

What would it mean to win another Vans Triple Crown Title
It would mean the world to me to win another one, specially after this year has been one of the best years of my life. But I’m not putting too much pressure on that, I’m just having fun and enjoying it. It seems like it’s working out pretty well! It would be the best closure for sure.

Favorite North Shore grinds
Power plate or açaí bowl at Pupukea Grill

The style master Joel Parkinson.


Coolangatta, QLD - Australia
3X Vans Triple Crown Champion (2008, 2009, 2010)
17th Vans Triple Crown

Best memory
Probably winning my first one. I lost one the year before to Andy and he had to win Pipe to do it. The next year, I’ve waited on the beach after making the Semis and I ended up winning the Triple Crown. I was so stoked, it was the best feeling!

Heaviest moment
One year, in 2007 I think, we got to Sunset and it was so big that day. We were sure they weren’t going to run the event, but they did. So we paddled out, got cleaned up by a huge set and got washed in. They’ve canceled right after that heat, it was out of control. 20 feet Sunset, it’s crazy, I’ll never forget.

Favorite past Champion
Sunny. I think of the Triple Crown, I think Sunny. He won six! It’s so hard to do, it’s a feat.

What comes to mind when you hear Vans Triple Crown
Consistency is the hardest thing. You have to surf three completely different breaks at different sizes, from 2 feet to 10-15 feet and consistently be on the best waves of your heat.

Favorite North Shore grinds
Spicy poke bowl at Kahuku Superette, for sure.

Steve and his dad, Vans' founder, Paul Van Doren.


Southern California
VP of Events and Promotions at Vans
20th Vans Triple Crown

Best memory
I’ve seen Kelly Slater one time get a 9.70 and a 10 in the last three minutes of the heat to take the lead and win. It was probably about 5 years ago, it was unbelievable.

Also, 7 years ago, I saw the “Eddie” out in Waimea Bay and I was really happy I got to see that. But, some days that I’ve seen big waves at Sunset and at Pipe just blew my mind.

"My dad said to Duke 'I can make some shoes out of your Hawaiian shirt.' ”

What comes to mind when you hear Vans Triple Crown
I’m real proud of it because I was a part of its acquisition. It’s always been a great event. I remember making an agreement with NBC (network) where we wouldn’t do horse racing and they wouldn’t do surfing. I said “No problem!”

Meeting the Duke
I lived in Costa Mesa and we met Duke Kahanamoku back in the day, in 1964. I was 8 years old. My dad, Fred Hemmings, Corky Carroll, Butch Van Artsdalen and Paul Straw were all there and my dad said to Duke “I can make some shoes out of your Hawaiian shirt.” Duke said “Great. Fred, come here” and he took Fred’s shirt off of him. My dad then took that, made a pair of shoes and brought it back to the Duke. He ended up giving my brother his surfboard but we don’t know where that is today.

Favorite North Shore grinds
I’ve got many. Giovanni’s shrimp truck, north of the Turtle Bay. Ted’s Bakery. Cholo’s for my nachos. Haleiwa Café for breakfast and sometimes I break a little bit loose to go down to Mililani and have Assagio’s, Italian food.

The man behind the brodcast.


Chicago, IL - Living in Los Angeles
Executive Producer of the Vans Triple Crown broadcast
10th Vans Triple Crown

Best Memory
It is almost impossible to pick just one moment.  There is so much energy and drama throughout the whole Triple Crown. From the drama of the qualifying series to the epic battles in the water. You get to know these guys and the things happening in their lives. Every year something heroic happens. For 6 weeks you are all consumed by what is happening in the surf world.  

Heaviest Moment
Every year there are several nail biting situations and some gruesome wipe outs.

The heaviest moment for me was getting a call late at night that the swell had hit at Pipe and we had to remove our camera gear and platforms in the middle of the night in pitch black while the waves thundered and roared into the beach.

What comes to mind when you hear Vans Triple Crown
The Superbowl of surf.

Favorite past champion
John John. It’s good seeing the local boy win in his back yard. Also, Sebastien Zietz, it was great seeing him qualify for the CT and his epic surfboard ride down the beach to accept the award.

I can’t forget about Sunny and Andy and how they simply dominated the Triple Crown.

Describe John John’s world title in one sentence.
His hometown hero story is what epic stories are based upon.

Favorite North Shore grinds
Banzai Sushi, ribs at Lei Lei’s and The Elephant Truck.

More Faces of Triple Crown:

PART 1          PART 2          PART 3          PART 4          PART 5

Interviews and photos by Paulo Dias

Final Day Highlights

Road to the Final - Michel vs. Kanoa

Igarashi Takes Down Slater With Buzzer-Beater Barrel

Kanoa Igarashi Seals Zeke Lau’s Elite Tour Destiny

Kanoa Igarashi Plays Hero to Hawaiians

Bourez Shuts the Door on Florence

Nat Young Fights for His Job in Perfect Pipeline

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