|A day before the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing holding period was set to begin, a high surf warning for the north and west shores of Oahu forced lifeguards to conduct thousands of preventative actions on Tuesday, Nov. 11 to keep the public out of the dangerous waters.
Waves reached up to 20 feet at the height of the high surf conditions. Safety officials on the North Shore logged 1,590 preventative actions and six rescues, while West Shore Officials logged 2,010 preventative actions and 10 rescues, most of which were at Makaha Beach.
Fortunately, none of the individuals rescued required medical care, and the stormy conditions kept most beachgoers on shore until the high surf warning ended at 6 a.m. Wednesday.
The warning also ended just in time for the official holding period of the 32nd annual Vans Triple Crown of Surfing to start on the North Shore of Oahu Wednesday morning.
The elite surfing competition takes place over a 39-day holding period, meaning that the three events that make up the competition will only be held on days when conditions are ideal for surfing. Usually this means a stretch of seven days when wave heights are sustained at 15 feet or higher. Since the competition takes place during Hawaii’s winter wave season, this usually isn’t a problem.
The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing is one of the most prestigious surf events in the world, attracting over 100 top-ranked surfers from across the globe to compete on Oahu’s North Shore. Surfers compete in three events: the Reef Hawaiian Pro near Alii Beach Park, the Vans World Cup of Surfing at Sunset Beach, and the Billabong Pipe Masters at the Banzai Pipeline.
The surfer who scores the most points across all three events is declared the 2014 Vans Triple Crown of Surfing Champion and awarded $50,000 in prize money in addition to any winnings they already accrued.
All three events will be streaming live on the Association of Surfing Professionals website for surf enthusiasts who can’t make it to Oahu for the competition. Fans planning to attend in person can visit the Triple Crown of Surfing website to check on event statuses and surf conditions.
“Tourists should know that water and beach conditions are extremely dangerous during surfing competitions and high surf warnings,” explains Dale Palileo, Internet Manager at E Noa Tours. “Surfers make it look easy, but the waves are powerful enough to cause severe injuries. Strong currents (riptides) have been known to drag swimmers out to sea where the potential for drowning is obviously higher.”