Pipeline has many epic days during the course of a winter when the waves are flawless, the wind is perfect, the barrels could hold sprinter vans, and as the cliche goes, not a drop of water is out of place. But Pipeline also has many unruly days. Probably more of those than epic – days when it’s big, windy, the barrels are open, but it’s mean and relentless in the water. The current is monstrous and holding position is damn near impossible. There’s also the small-ish days that are good, when Backdoor comes into play more, and of course the small days that are bad. And a million moods in between.
That’s why calling a contest on or off would sometimes be a thankless job. When directors have to think about the skill of the entire field, and not just the select few who made the Championship Tour after growing up on that particular stretch of sand. And that goes for any location from Fiji to West Oz.
Well, the World Surf League made the call not to run on Monday, a day where Second Reef was showing its teeth and some competitors not so quietly made it known that the contest should be on. Others were reportedly less enthusiastic about paddling out into the angry Pacific.
“Obviously, we saw all the comments,” said the WSL’s Jessi Miley-Dyer. “We wanted to run too. There’s nothing better that the WSL loves to see than big, perfect Pipeline. And I know our surfers also want to surf those conditions, too. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite there yesterday. We had a lot of washthroughs, it was really big. It kind of cleaned up in the afternoon for sure, but that’s outside of competition hours for us. When you get to about 4:00 p.m. in our permit we have to be off the beach by 4:30. So a bit late for us to start the contest yesterday.”
Fans of course were relentless on the WSL, especially in said comment sections. Nothing really new there, of course. There was another injury at Pipeline that day as New York surfer Austin Gibbons was apparently taken to the ICU. No word on his condition.
The point of this piece was to show some of the better waves from that fateful lay day. One of my favorite photographers, the iconic lensman Tom Servais, was on the scene to capture the action from the sand and called it, “very challenging and big.” Which pretty much sums it up to a T. Have a look for yourself. We’ll keep an eye out for the next call. Surfline is forecasting a bump in swell but it will be interesting to see how it works with the contest window, which ends Saturday.