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Hawaii: Surf's up for Oahu's triple crown of wave riding

November 09, 2012|By Jay Jones
  • Spectators take in one of the competitors in Van's Triple Crown of Surfing on Oahu's North Shore. This year's competition begins next week.
Spectators take in one of the competitors in Van's Triple Crown of… (ASP/KIRSTIN )

“The world's most dangerous wave. Seven seconds of sheer terror. A force of nature.”

With that prose, the Oahu’s North Shore Chamber of Commerce invites visitors to share in the thrill of surfing’s biggest event of the year, the Van’s Triple Crown of Surfing.

The event is actually three contests along North Shore beaches. The action gets underway Monday at Alii Beach in the town of Haleiwa and continues through Dec. 20. Admission is free.

The surfing action began shifting from Waikiki northward in the 1960s as new, shorter boards prompted surfers to chase the faster, hollower waves (tubes) that dominate in winter along the island’s less-populated shoreline.

“The North Shore is esteemed for its powerful and dangerous surf,” the event’s website says. “Its waves are the most challenging in the world, luring surfers with ecstatic rewards, but not without the threat of ultimate risk and hefty consequences.”

The world’s best surfers go head-to-head with Hawaii natives -- who claim the “home court advantage” -- during the three legs of the challenge. In its 30-year history, only 13 surfers have claimed the Triple Crown title. The winner takes home $1 million.

Haleiwa town has been attracting visitors ever since entrepreneur Benjamin Dillingham built a hotel in 1898. The Victorian property stood for years as a weekend getaway for folks from Honolulu, 30 miles south. At the time, Dillingham operated a railroad that linked the two communities and the region’s sugar plantations.

Haleiwa Joe’s, a popular restaurant and watering hole, now stands on the site of the old hotel.

The Chamber of Commerce, at 66-434 B Kamehameha Highway in Haleiwa, provides a wealth of visitor information.

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