Tales of intimidation and violence are legendary on the North Shore. Although there is certainly still no shortage of local regulators waiting to hand out a trademark Hawaiian slap or two to the flagrantly deserved, somehow things felt a little more relaxed this year. Several winters ago, I went to a party at the Volcom House after the Pipe finals. It felt like, at any moment, I was going to witness someone either get knocked out or spontaneously combust. Total pandemonium. This season, there wasn’t even a party at the Volcom house – sandy feet were the biggest controversy at the notorious residence. On the beach, I witnessed several fabled characters that you might not have wanted to even make eye contact with a few years ago who are now sporting radiant smiles with children in tow. Apparently fatherhood seems to have had a tempering effect on tempers. I even overheard one particularly infamous enforcer lamenting about how people on the North Shore these days are more prone to use their fingertips than their fists “…nobody fights here anymore. These social media kids all just talk shit and brawl with each other online…” Which is worse, I pondered to myself. I guess it all depends on your perspective – a fat lip will heal, but a nasty Instagram comment lasts forever.
The decks and lawns overlooking Pipeline were populated with more children than drunken revelers this year. Toddlers seemed to be the only ones stumbling around and causing any mayhem. I went to a bbq at the Fox House and it was definitely a family affair. Axel Irons could be spotted relentlessly running around on the lawn. Kerrzy’s daughter charmed the guests in the kitchen with her genetically stellar smile. Freddy P’s daughter clutched her Micky Mouse doll tightly in her arms and curiously eyeballed the surfers sauntering by with plates stacked full of huli huli chicken. Bede’s daughter quickly staked out prime real estate on the porch and sat intently on her dad’s lap listening to her iPad. Her dad had placed a pair of oversized headphones on her to help drown out the DJ and shield her ears. In an eerie and ironic twist, just hours later, Bede would perforate his own eardrum in a nasty Pipe wipeout during his heat against Nat Young.
A company’s prestige on the North Shore is largely determined by their team house’s proximity to a small handful of breaks – Pipeline being the most important. Anywhere beyond Sunset to the east and Log Cabins to the west is oft-considered the boondocks. Brand presence is very important on the North Shore, but not just because of the exposure. After surfing an upsetting heat during the Pipe Masters, no sponsored rider wants to take a humiliating 30 minute walk back to their team house. Two hundred yards might as well be two miles. Budgets were pretty tight this year though. For cost-cutting measures, a few surf brands opted to anchor themselves outside of this premium zone… well outside the zone – San Diego and Orange Counties in some cases. Not a good look.