Who Were The Lions Of This North Shore Season?
Nine surfers who roared above them all!
Sunny Garcia once said, in reference to surfers who come to the North Shore each winter, “You can either look like a lion, or you can look like a kitten.”
It doesn’t take a Laird-level genius to understand that Lion, in this context, refers to a person whose surfing roars above the infinitely powerful Pacific, while a Kitten bounces anxiously between peaks, surfing in a way that is mostly out of sight, out mind.
In other words, you want to be a Lion. King of the Hawaiian jungle.
With the 2018/19 North Shore season coming to close, we asked Sunny who he thought put on the most Lionly performances of the winter.
“Didn’t even go to Hawaii this winter, so I couldn’t tell you,” Sunny responded. “Took a break after all these years of competing and hung out in the snow.”
And you know what? Good for him. After spending the last 49 years building an impenetrable surfing legacy on Oahu’s North Shore, Sunny deserved a winter off.
“Been spending lots of time here in Washington, and I love it,” Sunny continued. “I do miss Hawaii, but it’s only a short flight away.”
With the true purveyor of Kittens and Lions out of the proverbial loop, we’re forced to make our own determinations about the 2018/19 winter.
Below is a list of folks who we believe surfed most Lionly this North Shore season.
Banji Brand: Benji Brand is more addicted to tubes than Nate Florence is to eating mayonnaise, and it shows. The Saffa-Hawaiian transplant stamped himself as one of the best Pipe surfers in the world this year, putting in more time than just about anyone and forging a ridiculous highlight reel (above) in the process. He’s practically the new Anthony Walsh, just without cameras protruding from every orifice.
Barron Mamiya: You might be thinking, “Hasn’t Barron been doing this forever? We’ve watched him get out of tubes all across the North Shore for five-plus years.” Which is true, but it doesn’t change the fact that Barron is still a teenager. The young Hawaiian combines a John John-esque tube and punt ability with a true fearlessness in his approach, which is the epitome of Lion energy. He’s just a fucking badass.
Cam Richards: The wave this kid got on his pops’ 8’0 will likely never be forgotten, especially if it earns Cam an official Wave of the Winter (still to be decided) title. With Cam’s performance at last year’s Volcom Pipe Pro combined with that one memorable ride, we couldn’t keep South Carolina’s pride and joy out of the Lion’s den.
Reef Heazlewood: First he blew our collective minds with one slooooooow Rocky Point rotation, then he backed it up with a final finish at the Volcom Pipe Pro, along with several other noteworthy punts along the North Shore this season. Mr. Heazlewood is not afraid of the juice.
Keito Matsuoka: Twice! Not once but twice has this low-key Japanese charger scored the best wave at the Backdoor Shootout – this year in a breathtaking fashion. While Cam’s wave might have been the most dynamic Pipeline ride of the season, you could say Keito’s tube was the biggest and most… perfect. This guy lives for his two hours of empty Pipeline each year, and it shows.
Moana Jones: When you’re called the “best female surfer at Pipeline, ever” by Jamie O’Brien, you’re probably doing something right. Sitting deep in the pack and consistently scratching into bombs, it’s clear that 19-year-old Moana Jones has some Lion(ess) energy about her. Don’t let the smile fool you!
Gabriel Medina: At the 2018 Pipe Masters, Gabriel Medina produced surfing’s greatest power move since Kelly pretended he was balding just to shoot additional glare into his competitor’s eyes. When the heat is on, Medina goes full Lion Mode and devours anyone in his path, then he spends the night surrounded by lithe female specimens. He is the true King of the jungle.
Jack Robinson: Jackie spent almost the entire winter on Oahu’s North Shore, maxing out his tube clock, mentally and physically preparing for the season ahead, and watching his lovely Julia Muniz get tanner every day. All of those things culminated in a win at the Volcom Pipe Pro, where Jack used his superior tube-riding skills to tower over a supremely talented field. Another John-level talent who is finally reaching his potential.
Tyler Newton: Newts, the humble Kauaian with balls of brass, took home the Backdoor Shootout trophy by stuffing his scrawny flesh packet into giant liquid cathedrals. While he may seem sweet on the surface, Tyler’s true intention is to rip a wave’s heart out and smear its blood across his face!
Surely there were more Lionly performances this season on Oahu’s North Shore. Let us know who we missed below.
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