No Contest Hawaii: Bruce Irons On The Religion Of Pipe, Maui Two Ways, And The Most Prized Real Estate In Surfing
The final episode of 2019 hits Jaws, Honolua, The Volcom/Gerry House, and finds the most hi-fi stretch on the Seven Mile Miracle.
Welcome to the last episode of No Contest 2019, Stab and Red Bull’s deep dive into the cultural richness, the unique charm and the radical local characters that make each stop on the World Championship Tour special. On this episode we’re crowning world champions in Hawaii, at the Maui Pro at Honolua Bay and The Pipe Masters, with a brief interruption from the Jaws Big Wave Championships.
Leaving Portugal it’s a 12 to 15-hour flight from Lisbon through San Francisco or Los Angeles, before a six-hour flight 2,390 miles from California, to the most isolated population center in the world, Hawaii. From Honolulu, it’s a forty-five minute drive through the iconic pineapple and sugarcane fields of Oahu’s North Shore, before you get your first glimpse of Haleiwa and the so-called Seven Mile Miracle.
For decades each winter surfers from every corner of the globe have made annual Hawaiian pilgrimages. From November to December the population on Oahu’s north shore easily doubles, and the friction between visitors and locals is often palpable. For surfers living in the houses that line the beach from Sunset Beach to Log Cabins, avoiding the very real and truly heavy vibes many encounter is a matter of being aware and disciplined about local customs.
Of Aristotle’s 12 virtuous pillars, in Hawaii Honor—reverence, admiration, and respect, comes first, especially for the surfers who paved the way, guys like Pipe Masters Derek and Michael Ho. For Hawaiians, like many proudly indigenous communities around the world, respect for your elders is tops, and few know that better than Bruce Irons and Jordy Smith, who have both enjoyed long and often “permanent” residences on the North Shore’s fabled stretch from Log Cabins to Rocky Point.
We take a look at what is truly the mecca for professional surfers hoping to own a home in Hawaii—a venerable murderers row of heavy hitters and packed team houses—and walk through the most hallowed staircase in the surfing world: the steps up to Gerry Lopez’s old room at his three-story Pipeline abode. Built in 1980 on a plot purchased for something like $30,000, Gerry Lopez’s three-thousand square foot, three-story, four-bedroom Pipeline throne has long been the most iconic residence on the North Shore, and in 2007 Volcom swooped on the property to the tune of 4 million dollars, sticking the Stone flag firmly in the Pipeline sand.
The Champ, Carissa Moore laying into one at Honolua.
Red Bull / Cat Miers
Ashton and Woody whip over to Maui to catch some Honolua freesurfs and the title race’s completion and return again just three weeks later for the Jaws Big Wave Championships.
While Stephanie Gilmore took home her fifth win at Honolua, Carissa Moore clinched her fourth world title in the early rounds, while Caroline Marks’ second-place finish in 2019 means the arrival of the first of the next women’s New School generation, and a World Title contender for what looks like the indefinite future.
Now in its 4th year, the Jaws invitational has quickly become the most viewed big wave event in the world. First pioneered by windsurfers in the ‘80s, and towed by a small crew of maniacs in the ‘90s, in the last ten years Jaws has been big wave paddle surfing’s Everest, the most alluring, gorgeously brutal big wave spectacle on the planet. When a Jaws swell hits, surfers on the north shore can be on the cliff at Peahi in a matter of hours.
After one of the biggest days of competition the Jaws event has seen, Paige Alms claimed her second Peahi win, while Ian Walsh and Nate Florence fell just short of Hawaiian Billy Kemper, who asserted his dominance for the fourth time, as well winning a WSL Big Wave World Championship.
Back on the North Shore, Kelly Slater won his third triple crown, 21 years after wearing the crown last. Meanwhile, Gabriel Medina and Italo Ferreira climbed opposite sides of the Pipe Masters draw, Gabe fanning the flames of discontent employing hyperagressive and arguably questionable tactics. But for the first time since Andy Irons beat Kelly Slater in 2003, the World Title would be decided in the final of the Pipe Masters.
The boys enjoy the last heat of 2019 from Gerry’s balcony at the Volcom House, and with it wrap what has been a truly radical year on tour. Thanks to everyone for following this year, we’ll see you in 2020.
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