Nathan Florence discusses the Vans’ Triple Crown of Surfing changing to a digital format

Nathan Florence (via Ryan Miller)
Nathan Florence (via Ryan Miller) /

Nathan Florence shares his thoughts on the last few weeks participating in the new digital format of the Vans’ Triple Crown of Surfing event.

The Vans Triple Crown of surfing is a legendary surf contest that takes place in Hawaii every year. The format is held across three famous surf breaks on the North Shore, Haleiwa, Sunset, and Pipeline. This year with the state of the world during the coronavirus pandemic the 38 year run of this contest was in jeopardy. Fortunately, the event was able to run in a new online submission format. There have been a few other contests running a similar digital format for surfers to go out on their own and capture the best waves they can. One man who is doing just that is Nathan Florence.

“I thought it was a great idea,” Florence told FanSided. “We had done something every year, something called The Wave of the Winter where it’s an online thing, everybody tries to submit their best waves of the winter to win 25 thousand dollars and obviously bragging rights to the best wave of the winter. For Vans to take it in stride, the Triple Crown, and instead of canceling, say let’s make this a digital competition and give everyone a chance to compete for the Triple Crown title. Now you have the freedom to choose when to surf the spots.”

Each surfer who is participating in the event must follow certain guidelines. They must submit two videos of waves from each of the three surf spots. This year there will be both men and women competing for more than $200,000 in prizes. The nature of this competition is much different than how surf competition usually goes, and that is alright with Florence and his brother John John, a WSL champion.

“In the heats, there is so much pressure, you have to surf in a way to get the scores but you also have to be safe so not to fall,” Florence said. “When you go out for a session you now have the freedom to literally surf every wave as hard as you can. You can go as big as you want because you have a whole session to try again. It allows all the best surfers to go out as hard as they can and submit those waves to win the contest.”

This new format allowed for more inclusivity in a traditional surf contest. In years past, surfers would need to qualify for the event, but this year they just needed to sign up and be in Hawaii. Also, this year was the first year that women had the opportunity to compete in the Triple Crown at Pipeline. It also allowed friends to compete with friends, and even brother against brother in the case of the Florence’s.

“This is an event that has been happening for a long time,” Florence explained. “ It is very tied in with surfing’s history. The previous champions are all legendary people. There was a thought of will this event be as cool as the original events and I think they totally killed it, it totally lived up”

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The event ran for four weeks from Dec. 21, 2020, through Jan. 18, 2021. The winners will be announced on Tuesday, Jan. 26 at 8 pm PT. There will be both male and female winners from each location as well as overall winners and fan-favorite winners. To see all the submissions head to