Noa Deane. Photo: Brent Bielmann
What a year to pick The Bright Side as a theme for our annual Hawaii issue.
There was an overdose of tragedy this past season. Ace Cool passed away. Mick Fanning lost his brother. A helicopter crashed near Haleiwa. Editor Zander Morton came into our house ghost white one morning as he witnessed first hand his friend Evan Geiselman almost die.
But a lot of really amazing shit happened in Hawaii this winter too. And a lot of it wasn’t talked about or given the respect it deserved. Sure, all the likely heroes stepped up and had a great winter — but there were a lot of guys who almost caught us off guard. Even though the place is still pumping, we wanted to give them a proper salute before everybody heads off to Australia. Here are some of the unlikely champions who made the most out of this North Shore season. —Peter Taras
“We should shoot tonight!” I said to Yago as I introduced myself in a mix of Sherm-like froth and excitement. It was forward. It was weird — no, I was weird — but Yago’s surfing this winter in Hawaii was so creative. From his frontside 540 attempts to his big slobs at Rocky Lefts. There are even a couple clips floating around of him riding some 4’8″ mirco-fish that looks damn fun.
Photo: Corey Wilson
We’d normally consider him a likely champion, but he had some injuries this winter. Mason still was able to ollie over some stuff and get incredible waves at pipe. Nothing is more enjoyable that watching Mason surf, on rocks, or water, wherever. He even has an edit to prove it…maybe. It’s “coming soon” according to his Instagram post 7 weeks ago. That’s like a lifetime! Why you gotta tease so much Mase?
Kiron Jabour. Photo: Taras
Everybody At Off The Wall
There is always going to be some freak that paddles out on a huge, washing-through swell at Off The Wall and waits for something that resembles a makable wave. And it used to be just one freak — Kieren Perrow, Reef MacIntosh, Scooby, etc. But this year, it was a number of freaks. I saw it with my own two massive eyebrows as Kiron Jabour, Russ Bierke, Alex Smith, Evan Valiere and a dozen others surfed days that would have hardly been touched in the past. Here’s what Kiron had to say about it.
“We’re literally trying to get the scariest wave we can. With our crew I know that if I don’t go on a wave, I’ll have to take a lot of shit for it. All of us know that.”
A lot of people surf Rocky Lefts. You go out, you do air reverses, a couple turns into the rip bowl, etc. But Mikey Wright set himself apart this winter. He sat on this weird part of the reef and basically went left at Rocky Rights and landed enough airs for a proper edit.
Photo: Corey Wilson
Of course, he’s never been a secret. Jack Robinson’s been doing feature trips for this magazine since 2010 and has graced our cover three times since. He’s a prodigy. But before this season on the North Shore, Jack’s accolades were always attached to his age. Like, he has so much style for being 14 or he’s gotta be the best 16-year-old in the world. But in just one webcasted day of surfing tricky, 10-to-12 foot Pipe, 17-year-old Jack became a peer to the world’s best, with shades of Bruce Irons and John Florence oozing from his style. And somehow, it kind of surprised us.
Girls In General
There were lots of them. Surfing too! Well, most of them were on Maui ripping the bag of of Honolua Bay. But on the North Shore of Oahu, skin prevailed. I learned to never sit underneath the shaded part of that stretch between Rock Piles and Rocky Rights — it must essentially a sperm bank. The beach at night is reserved for warm bodies and racing hearts because team houses are, well, awkward.
In the water. Out of the water. All the time. Here’s what he had to say about his time over there.
“I love when Hawaii gets too big, unruly and there’s nobody out. Those are the days that I enjoy surfing the most, and are always when I get my best waves. If I have to take a few extra beatings for that, so be it. I don’t really mind. It’s kind of more fun, actually. I would rather surf maxing Pipe with 10-wave wash through sets and two guys out than perfect Pipe with 100 guys in the water. I have so much more confidence when I’m able to choose my waves and my position in the lineup. Growing up in New York I surfed a ton of days that were victory-at-sea and I always enjoyed them, and I approach out-of-control Pipe the same way. This winter I got to surf too big Rockpiles and my first wave was one of the biggest I’ve ever gotten. I had to straighten out, got rolled by the whitewater and took about 10 more on the head. But going out on a day like that I expect that. I love that. It’s gonna happen. People love to complain about how crowded Hawaii is but really it’s only crowded when it’s perfect. You can get the wave of your life if you’re willing to paddle out when only a few others will. And it makes the one good wave you do end up getting amidst all the beatings just that much more rewarding”