Billabong Pipe Masters

Faces of the Vans Triple Crown - Pt. 6

Dec 13, 2017

The big barrel hunter

Ola Eleogram

Hana, Maui, Hawaii
Professional surfer
14th Vans Triple Crown of Surfing

How’s the Vans Triple Crown different than other surfing events?
It’s usually held in really good waves. Big, powerful, you’re on a big board. Very different surfing, not really aerials, it’s more about power surfing and big barrels. It’s awesome, you know. A little bit more adrenaline rushing through you when the big sets roll through.

What does it take to win a Triple Crown title?
You have to have a lot of endurance, a lot of strength and confidence. Any good surfer can win as long as they want it enough and their not scared of the bigger waves. Specially the third jewel, at Pipeline, where you gotta be ready to pull into some big barrels over a shallow reef.

What would it mean to you to win the Triple Crown?

"It would be the best thing of my life, for sure. My whole life I’ve been dreaming of winning the Triple Crown."

One day, you know. But first, I would like to win one of these contests. It would be awesome!

What’s your favorite wave in the Hawaiian islands?
Secret spots in Maui.

Who is the most entertaining surfer of the Triple Crown?
Seabass. Seabass is the man, he’s my boy!

Favorite grinds in the North Shore?
Banzai Sushi, love it.


The innovator

Daniel 'Tomo' Thomson

Lennox Head, Australia
Surfboard designer, shaper and free surfer

When was your first Vans Triple Crown of Surfing?
The first time I came to Hawaii was in 2002, which was the year Andy won his first World Title (and Billabong Pipe Masters). So I’ve got to watch that and it was a really cool introduction to the Triple Crown.

What makes the Triple Crown different than other surfing competitions?
Mostly the waves. It’s so much gnarlier and more powerful than anywhere else that I’ve ever been to. It’s just the intensity of the ocean. There’s an element of survival as well as trying to compete. It always makes for entertaining viewing.

How is the typical Hawaiian surfboard different than the ones from California, Australia, Brazil?
Obviously longer boards, with a pin tail, something more traditional than some of the experimental stuff I do for small waves. Other than that, weight and strength are big critical factors, because the waves have so much energy, they break boards really easily. You have to think about your glassing schedules a lot more and also backing off concaves a little bit. The wave’s already got so much power, you don’t really need to create more speed, you need to control the speed of the board.

Is the North Shore a good testing grounds?
It’s the best spot to test boards for big waves because of the consistency. You got Sunset which is more of a slopier style wave, where you can test different concepts. Maybe different than Pipe and Off-the-Wall, where you need to just keep super tight pulled in tails, knifier rails to hold the drop. I have different rockers that I like to use for those two spots.

"The variety is all here if you wanna try out some concepts. There are giant, medium, punchy and slopy waves. It’s all here."

Is there room for experimenting in the big wave realm?
Yes there is. In fact, I’ve just done some experimental guns for this Hawaiian season. Some 9’ 0”, 10’ 0” dual fin boards. They’ve got some very innovative bottom contours, like a multi concave within V bottoms, a concave deck with a step rail and rounded noses, to try to shorten the lengths of the boards. They are pretty unique concepts and I’m really excited to get them in the water. I think Jamie Mitchell’s got one, Peter Mel’s got another and there’s a couple more for some other guys. Maybe Kelly (Slater) will want to try.

Describe a perfect day in the Hawaii.
I like the gentleman’s hour session, 9 o’clock, or 8:30. So I get up, have a stretch, have a coffee, cruise down the beach and enjoy the morning. I like to try to find my little spots in between the crowds and then hopefully get some barrels. After that, get an açaí bowl and in the afternoon go to the Turtle Bay bar and watch the Sunset. Killer!

Favorite grinds in the North Shore?
Banzai Bowls, I love an açaí bowl.


Leticia Bufoni and friend Maila Silva

Leticia Bufoni

São Paulo, Brazil
Professional skateboarder
Three-time X Games Gold Medalist
1st Vans Triple Crown of Surfing

How much surfing do you watch throughout the year?
I’ve been following surfing events consistently for a few years already. I’m friends of some of the boys, Gabriel (Medina), Filipe (Toledo), so I’m always watching them. I love surfing and I surf a little bit, even though I’m not very good at it.

What are the similarities between surfing and skating?
In terms of competition it’s very similar, you have to have focus and determination. There are a lot of surfing maneuvers that came from skateboarding. They were both “born” together, so it’s pretty cool to be following surfing.

How about the competition scene? Are both sports at the same level?

"I think surfing is a little more advanced and more organized than skateboarding right now."

But skating is getting there, I think it will get a lot better in the next two years, because of the Olympic Games. There is still a long way to go to reach the level that surfing is, in terms of organization, support, sponsors. Surfing has the visibility that skateboarding still does’t have at the moment.

And how’s your Hawaii trip been so far?
Oh, I love Hawaii, it’s my third time here. I was supposed to go home last Friday but I’ve changed my ticket and I’m staying a few more days. And if I could, I would change it again to stay more!

What do you like the most about it?
I really like the vibe and the weather, which is very similar to Brazil. Everybody rides their bicycles. You get out of the house and you see Jamie O’Brien. Then you go to the restaurant and you see Kelly Slater. We just sat next to him at dinner yesterday. Even though I’m used to traveling a bunch and seeing a lot of people, it’s not everyday that you see people like that!

Did you surf on this trip?
I’ve had a knee surgery three weeks ago so I’m still recovering from it. But a few days ago we got some longboards and went out at Waikiki, where the waves were a little smaller. I went out just to have fun because surfing big waves is not really for me, I’m still learning it. But I do love surfing.

Describe a perfect day in the Hawaii.
A perfect day in Hawaii for me is waking up early, having breakfast and going for a hike. Then some time at the beach, surf and dinner. Unfortunately I can’t skate right now because of my injury, but if I could, it would be even more perfect.

Favorite grinds in the North Shore?
I’m really liking the food trucks on the main road. They have all types of food, Mexican, Brazilian and lots of fish too. I’ve been eating açaí bowls everyday!


More Faces of the Vans Triple Crown:

PART 1       PART 2       PART 3       PART 4       PART 5


Photos and interviews by Paulo Dias

Final Day Highlights - Buzzer Beater and Trophies!

Medina Slides His Way Into an 9.07!

Faces of the Vans Triple Crown - Pt. 7!

Julian Wilson’s Almost Perfect 9.73!

Final Day Photos!

Flores 8.70 Deep Backdoor Runner!

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