The Jamie O’Brien x Catch Surf Keiki Shorebreak Invitational
Words by Jed Smith | Photos by Catch Surf Kalani Chapman cut a stoic figure on the shoreline at Keiki beach. As 10 feet of pure crystalline agony punched the sand in front of him, he stood, motionless, staring it down, like so many great Hawaiians before him. It’s become an iconic image, that of the […]
Words by Jed Smith | Photos by Catch Surf
Kalani Chapman cut a stoic figure on the shoreline at Keiki beach. As 10 feet of pure crystalline agony punched the sand in front of him, he stood, motionless, staring it down, like so many great Hawaiians before him. It’s become an iconic image, that of the lone man on the sand staring out at as the North Shore throws all it can at him. But there was one difference today. It was the board under Kalani’s arm. Not a 7’6 tube shooter, but rather five feet of flaming hot pink soft-top. It was to be the weapon of choice on this famous day of surfing.
Event winner Jason Frederico, nearing the start of one in many beatings.
The event belonged to Jamie O’Brien and his new sponsor, Catch Surf. Catch Surf make the best soft-tops in the world; sleekly designed, slick-bottomed, high performance foam surfboards that not only give surfers the ability to beat the Blackball flagging situation in Southern California and parts of Australia, but also get fully pitted and jamming turns and sick little punts. They’ve broken new ground in soft-top design and performance and to prove how good they are they’ve had their number one team rider and all-time Pipe legend, Jamie O’Brien, ride them at 10-foot Pipe. Initially he’d been riding soft-tops from the American supermarket chain, Costco, but they banned him after he took the piss out of their 90 day no-questions-asked refund policy (Jamie had been dragging mangled lumps of foam off the back of his pick-up to the front desk and handing them with a soggy receipt).
After riding the biggest Chopes bomb ever a while back, shorebreaks like this aren’t so scary for Koa Rothman.
It’s pretty fucken mental when you think about it. While crew are dying on the reg at Pipe just doing their best, here’s JOB pulling mid-face soft-board to short-board transitions on a potential Wave of the Winter.
It turns out Jamie’s mates aren’t too shabby on the soft-top, either. Koa Rothman, Koa Smith, Kalani Chapman and Poopies were among a dozen or so local hellman who turned out to throw themselves into oblivion at Keiki (John John Florence was a notable absentee). Manning up in the middle of cartoonish shorebreaks has become a favourite Hawaiian past time of the last 20 years. The images of Clark Little and Bruce Irons doing exactly that have been some of the most iconic to come out of the North Shore. On the day of the soft top Invitational, with the buoys reading 10 to 20 feet, Waimea popping off at 15 plus, and Pipe a mess of third reef wash-throughs, a dozen more legends were made
The event was won by North Shore heavy, Jason Frederico. The hulking Pipe specialist with the wildman beard, gap-toothed grin, and fearsome reputation took home $700 in prize money for a series of the worst beatings imaginable plus a couple of expertly navigated runs down the marble staircase and into the guts of 10-foot closeouts. He cut a comical figure on the winners podium afterwards surrounded by all kinds of 90s-kitsch iconography; a pink lei around his neck, pink soft-tops, and neon-lycra clad beauties spraying cheap champagne all over him. “I’m sober now! This stuff better be Apple Cider and Vinegar,” he chortled.
Jamie’s pigdog skillz really do pay the billz.
But it was the man himself, Jamie O’Brien, who stole the show. Paddling out last, the soft-top specialist put on a display that will live long in my memory. His best effort came last, an under the lip take off on a treacherous 10-footer. He descended with the crumble before somehow finding a rail at the bottom, grabbing it, and dropping his knee into one of those classic under the lip JOB bottom turns. With 10-feet of pure closeout behind him and below sea-level drain-off in front, he rode the flexing foam and plastic beneath him expertly, guiding it up and into perfect position for the finale: a stand-tall salute-to-the-fans before the Keiki curtain closed out a special day.
Follow Jed on twitter, here.
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