Can A South African Cavern Queen With No Pipeline Experience Do Well At The Vans Pipe Masters? - Stab Mag

Can A South African Cavern Queen With No Pipeline Experience Do Well At The Vans Pipe Masters?

Sophie Bell will have a steep learning curve in Hawaii.

cinema // Nov 30, 2022
Words by August Howell
Reading Time: < 1 minutes

How does one go from never paddling out at Pipeline to getting invited to the Vans Pipe Masters? 

Let’s examine. 

Sophie Bell is from Ballito, South Africa, about a half-hour north of Durban. And frankly, even she seemed flummoxed as to why she received a ticket into surfing’s (more dangerous) version of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Sophie has never surfed Pipeline, nor had a Hawaii quiver, which in turn means she’s never owned a board larger than 6’0. 

That said, Sophie’s no stranger to large tubes. Growing up surrounded by world-class beachies, groins, and piers, the young Saffa has spent plenty of time plunging her toe edge into righthand locomotives. These skills acquired at home have also proven valuable abroad, proven by her time clocked under the lip at Nias. And if she’s surfing that well over reef on sub-six-foot boards, we’re looking forward to seeing how she handles an oververt Backdoor drop on a custom 6’4 at the Vans Pipe Masters (December 8-20).

Sophie knows her time in Hawaii could be a steep learning curve (pun sort of intended), but as a fresh face in the lineup, she’s providing viewers a unique opportunity to see how someone new to this iconic fighting pit fares in a room full of gladiators.  

Watch above as Sophie re-examines her quiver, skillfully avoids naming her home break, and explains what she’d do with the winner’s prize purse (Hint: it involves really good waves).


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