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Published: Monday 14 December, 2015

Big swell in surf contest purses Cars+Sell Your CarBuy a CarResearch CarsFinanceFind a DealerPlace an AdThe Vans Triple Crown of Surfing one of surfing's most prestigious contest series began Thursday in Haleiwa, Hawaii, on the North Shore of Oahu. Over the next month, three contests that make up the Triple Crown will run at world renowned surf breaks at Haleiwa, Sunset Beach and Pipeline, nike high top cleats drawing more than 150 competitors from 17 countries. While the Triple Crown has always been an important contest series, it carries added significance this year because of the $1,000,000 prize purse, the first million dollar pot on the Association of Surfing Professionals tour. This increased prize money is part of an upward trend, as surfing contests hand out larger prize purses. For years, prize money has remained relatively stagnant, even as the surf industry grew. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, which last year handed out $20,000 to the first place winner. This year it was increased to $100,000, making it the biggest first place prize purse in ASP history. Hurley then followed up with a $100,000 purse to the winner of the Hurley Pro at Lower Trestles, a ASP World Tour event in September. Standard first place prize purses on the ASP World Tour are $40,000. Australian Mick Fanning ultimately won that contest, and a $60,000 bonus. "We want to make sure it's the best experience possible for the athletes and fans," Hurley Pro Contest Director Pat O'Connell said. "Having this elevated prize purse adds to the excitement both on the beach and in the water, so it's worth it for us.

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Then, last month, the ASP itself reformatted several aspects of the way its contest series will work beginning next year, including increasing prize money from a standard of $340,000 per event to $400,000. This increase came after reports that an alternative tour to the ASP was in the works, one which would have substantially increased prize money for competitors. Kelly Slater, with the help of investors not endemic to the surf industry, was said to be working with the creators of that tour. Slater's story is a unique way to look at why these companies are pressured to increase prize purses. magazine estimated Slater's 2008 annual income at over $3 million dollars, ranking him, according to the magazine, as one of the top 10 earners in action sports. Yet Slater's earnings from a 15 year career that includes nine world championships has earned him just under $2 million. Not unlike other athletes, most of Slater's estimated salary comes from endorsement contracts. Nike Magistax Proximo Slater is in a good u position, because he frequently wins surf contests. Other competitors most affected by the size of a contest's prize purse are often those who lose early in an event. Because contests are often held in faraway countries like South Africa, Tahiti or Australia, the cost of travel can be remarkably high. Surfers who lose in the first round of a contest typically earn $4,700, which may not cover the cost of travel. As the popularity of surf contests grows, it's likely that prize money awarded to competitors will continue to increase. All of that indicates the sport of surfing is becoming just that a sport. Prize purses, it seems, are just the beginning.

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