HALEIWA, HAWAII — Oahu’s sleepy North Shore surf country was roused from its slumber this week by thundering surf measuring up to 15 feet, signaling the start of Hawaii’s $1.1 million dollar winter surf season. The HIC Pro, presented by Vans, is the season opener and starts next week, October 28 through November 10. It will be immediately followed by the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing series, November 12 through December 20.
Beyond the $1.1 million in prize money for the world’s best surfers, big waves also bring a tsunami of tourism spending to the Islands, and high quality live internet coverage of the events broadcast priceless imagery to the world. The result is a tourism boon for the Islands to the tune of more than
$10 million in direct spending.
The $85,000 HIC Pro will be held at Sunset Beach on the best three days of surf during its 14-day holding period. As the final event of the ASP Hawaii regional tour, the HIC Pro presents the last opportunity for local surfers to qualify to compete against the world’s highest rated surfers at the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing.
Haleiwa’s Joel Centeio, 27, is a prime example of what you get when you showcase local talent on a premier stage. Centeio is a former champion of the HIC Pro (2007), qualified last year to surf in the Vans Triple Crown, and went on to win the first jewel of the Crown that was held at his home break.
“A lot of the guys that don’t travel and just surf Hawaii need the points to qualify for the Triple Crown,” says Centeio. “HIC stepped up and made the event a 4-star (this year) with considerably more money.”
In fact, the prize money and ratings points offered surfers in the HIC Pro have doubled this year compared to 2009.
As defending champ of the Reef Hawaiian Pro, Centeio has already received an invitation to compete in the Vans Triple Crown this year. But as an HIC rider and former champion of the HIC Pro, the pressure is on to do well at Sunset Beach.
“It’s huge! I ride for HIC, and I’ve been with them forever. Now that they’re the main sponsor, I want to do good and win it for them. Plus, it will just give me a ton of confidence going into Haleiwa and I want to defend that title. If I was to win the HIC Pro it would give me a whole lot of confidence.”
The HIC Pro and Vans Triple Crown round out the 2010 Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Tour, crowning the regional and world champions respectively by the end of the year. The 2011 ASP tour then commences in Hawaii with events in January and February to close out the Hawaiian winter