Carissa Moore, always at home in the power Hawaiian surf. Photo: Vans Triple Crown/ASP

The waiting period has begun for the most prestigious men’s surfing series, the Vans Triple Crown on the North Shore of Hawaii. However this year, there’s one big difference: There’s a girl in the line-up.

Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Surfing Champ Carissa Moore has won the coveted wildcard and will be competing in the first two events, the Reef Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa November 12-23 with a prize purse of $145,000, and the $250,000 Vans Hawaiian Pro at Sunset Beach November 25- December 6. The wildcard is not a guarantee of being in the crowned jewel, the last of the series, the Billabong Pipeline.

But still, she’s in the line-up with 120 of the leading male surfers on the planet. At only 18 years-old, Carissa dominated the women’s ASP World Tour in 2011 which wrapped up in Huntington Beach, CA in August, winning 3 times and being in the final 6 time-a first for Hawaii in 30 years.

However on the heels of finding out she won, was the devastating news that the women’s Vans Triple Crown series would not have a women’s event series. (Read more about lack of women’s sponsorship funding in previous stories on Label Networks.) Vans offered a paid series of 3 “specialty events” but it wasn’t a sanctioned ASP event and the women opted not to have it since they were not real, rated events.

” It was 1981 when Hawaii’s last world champion, Margo Oberg, raised the trophy here – years before we ever had a women’s Triple Crown,” says Vans Triple Crown Executive Director, Randy Rarick. “This was to be Carissa’s year… Hawaii’s year… and it was devastating for us to realize that there would be no stage for her. So after the ladies declined the specialty series, we realized our last card was a wildcard, and we were truly ecstatic to make that genuine offer to Carissa.”

With wisdom and wits to match her talent on the waves, Moore is aware of the double-edged sword she has been handed:

“Everyone will have a different perspective and I’ve definitely heard some mixed reviews,” says Moore of the talk about her wildcard. “But I’m excited and looking forward to it and hopefully that shows. I want to drive home that if there were events for the girls, I wouldn’t be surfing in the guy’s events. But I think if a woman can (compete with the men) in a very respectful way, then it’s appropriate. And if Kelly (Slater) would like to surf in one of our events, we’d welcome him,” she says with a smile.

“I don’t mind if I lose out there at Sunset or Haleiwa in a heat, I just want to surf there. I won the world title but I won it away from home and would love to have finished it here. The waves in Hawaii bring a different element to your surfing. You have to step it up with the different variables and bigger waves. I’m just excited to surf in front of a home crowd.

“These opportunities to surf with the best surfers are really important. That’s how our sport evolves – by watching and being inspired by your peers. I love the challenge of surfing, of riding a wave and pushing yourself. It’s important as an athlete to be in that environment, to strive to be better.

“It will definitely be cool to share waves with some of the guys I surfed with from our mini grom days – John John (Florence), Kolohe (Andino), and all those guys who I’ve looked up to since I was little.”

Stay tuned for more as the Vans Triple Crown gets underway.