Stab Magazine | Gallery: Kauai's 'King Of The Tree' Is Not Your Typical Surf Event

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Gallery: Kauai’s ‘King Of The Tree’ Is Not Your Typical Surf Event

Created by Dustin Barca, the event forces competitors to ride four totally different crafts to build their score. 

news // Apr 9, 2018
Words by Words and
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Last Saturday, Dustin Barca ran his 4th Annual King of the Tree contest at Kauai’s Waioli Beach Park, more commonly known as Pinetrees. This uniquely formatted event showcases competitors’ skills across four different board styles (shortboard, longboard, alaia, and retro single). The man who has the highest combined score across all four boards will win the belt, Pinetrees’ premier parking spot, and bragging rights for a whole year. While Andy will always be the true King of the Tree, a win here earns the right to watch over his kingdom. There are also Queen, Prince, and Mini-Prince divisions for surfers of different age groups and genders.

Screen Shot 2018 04 03 at 1.23.23 PM

Groms win big!

All in all it’s a fun day at Kauai’s favorite beach, hanging out, and sharing laughs; a community event with every kid getting a shirt, backpack, and other prizes. The contest shirt is always gold and this year’s reads: From Pinetrees With Love, created by the boys at RVCA. 

Despite this feel-good atmosphere, competition is fierce. 

Screen Shot 2018 04 03 at 1.23.35 PM

Eventual winner Tyler Newton (center) demonstrates his game face.

After four heats and a clutch one-footed layback on a 6’3 single fin (even harder than it sounds), Tyler Newton captured the belt back from Gavin Gillette and was crowned King for the second time. Bragging rights, parking spot, and a brand new Pyzel surfboard were his ample bounty. Keep that throne warm for us, Tyler. Next year it’s on. 

When it was all over and the rain began to settle, I became curious of the idea behind my new favorite contest and decided to pick Barca’s brain about the concept, format, and our surfing roots at Pinetrees. 

Screen Shot 2018 04 03 at 1.23.57 PM

Barca shares love from the lot.

Dylan Goodale: So, it seems like King of the Tree is kind of becoming everyone’s favorite contest of the year. The one everyone looks forward to. 
Dustin Barca: Yeah, I mean, we can only do so many normal contests. We gotta come up with something fun.

Exactly! When did you actually come up with the idea?
To tell you the truth, I came up with that concept kind of a long time ago but I just never really could get anyone to back it until RVCA was really willing to step up to the plate and support me with the event. And yeah, I’ve always kinda had this dream of having a surf contest where you win a fighters belt too. I thought it would just be the ultimate prize to have. 

And the concept of the contest is just to bring out the ultimate waterman at the beach on that day because you gotta ride all four boards and it just makes it super challenging. You could be really good at short boarding but suck at longboarding or riding the alaia, or vice versa. You could have a shocker in any one and it might throw off your whole game. So it comes down to whoever is the most consistent at the end of the day is gonna walk away with the belt.

Screen Shot 2018 04 03 at 1.23.02 PM

Winnahs winnahs chickin’ dinnahs!

Yeah, I can hardly get up on the alaia, that’s my excuse for not being king of the tree…
Haha, blame whatever you want buddy. Nobody rides the alaia. Consistently at least. And even if someone is good at riding an alaia, maybe they can’t really shortboard. It all equals out.

You just gotta be on your game all around.
Yup. Like Newts. Newts is on his game right now.

Right? Four years and only two winners. Gavin and Tyler have gone back to back. Someone’s gotta take em out already… but my favorite thing is how it’s a contest for everyone.  Everyone is trading boards, cooking food, and hanging out all day long. Everyone comes together. 
It really brings our community together, from the old dogs to the little kids. It makes everybody a kid at Pinetrees again.

Screen Shot 2018 04 03 at 1.23.46 PM

2x past-champ Gavin Gillette is an incredible surfer regardless of craft.

Right where we all started!
Exactly. For the king, it’s all bragging rights but we’ve talked about a parking spot and I’d like to put a plaque up on the tree or something, carve a new name in every year. Or maybe we carve the names into the tree. I mean, the tree’s got that significance. It’s just… It’s kind of the foundation of who we are. 

Yeah, I remember getting dropped off as a little kid and my dad would just leave me in the hands of the older kids. They’d fuck with you and roust you if I got out of line, but always were watching out. That always stuck with me. That’s how we learned.

It’s just the gnarliest roust fest ever. Everybody just talks shit all day and breaks you down till you feel like a centimeter big and then you gotta grow from there… 
Yup, gotta grow from the foundation.

Well, can’t wait for next year. Before I go, what’s new for King of the Tree 2019? 
Umm… I’m gonna win it! 


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