PIPELINE’S OPENING DAY
Regardless of contests, parties, or solemn, photo-friendly ceremonies, the North Shore season doesn’t officially start until Pipeline breaks. On Wednesday, November 28, after a couple crazy days of dude’s desperately pulling into heavy close-outs at Backdoor and Off the Wall, the Banzai Pipeline finally turned on. All the boys were out there trying to get a good one — even some of the girls, including Bethany Hamilton (talk about a humbling sight) — but you just couldn’t help but notice the one guy standing tall over everyone. Garrett MacNamara paddled his stand-up paddleboard out at Pipe an hour before sunset and played cat and mouse with the Second Reef sets until just before dark. His brother Liam was actually out there too, just trying to find one on his normal-guy surfboard. When Liam saw his wave, he told Garrett this one was his and started paddling for it. Just as he was dropping in, this huge, bright red, stand-up paddleboard comes blazing past him, forcing Liam to straighten out or get worked by Garrett’s wake (“I was tripping out my own brother taxed me like that,” said Liam later. SUP, Garrett?). Garrett ended up getting a filthy double-tube bomb while holding his paddle like a shotgun, got closed out on the inside and high-fived all the way back up the beach by stoked photogs and filmers. And with that classic and crazy Pipeline publicity stunt fully documented, logged and recorded, the North Shore season had officially begun.
HUGE WAVES KEEP THE VANS TRIPLE CROWN ROLLING
While Pipe was turning on, Sunset was — in the words of local shaper John Carper — “as good as it gets.” Sofia Mulonvich thwarted Stephanie Gilmore’s world title hopes by winning the Roxy Pro Hawaii. And the O’Neill World Cup of Surfing was underway in conditions that had even the board caddies struggling to keep their heads above water. And then the waves were forecast to get REALLY big. The folks at the Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau opening ceremony couldn’t have been more excited about it. Following Kahu Billy Mitchell’s moving speech and traditional chanting, the world’s best big wave riders formed a circle on the Waimea, remembering Eddie and tossing leis into the center. Just as their ceremony finished, a freak set appeared out of nowhere and all the boys shared a ride back to the beach. You could just feel Eddie looking down on the whole assembly, smiling, maybe even shooting a few photos of his own. And even as we file this report, the Number One Buoy just jumped up 24 feet. The Round of 64 is desperately cramming through a few heats at Sunset before the massive swell starts hitting, and Eddie is still up there smiling…maybe even laughing at little.