The contest stopped. The week began. Small surf became big surf (well, big by most mainland standards; solid by that shell-shocked Hawaiian measurement.) But not the kind of big surf you hold contests in. Just big, burgering bombers butting their blustering heads against The Rock while all the assembled ringmasters, human-cannonballs and bearded ladies of this North Shore carnival hunkered down, held their breaths, and waited for the whitewash to pass overhead. The impromptu psuedo-tradeshow marched on, while the clock on the pro surf showdown ticked off the days with eager anticipation. With the waiting period wearing thin, resolution, one way or another, was inevitable. You can run, but you can’t hide. And as everyone already knows by now, the gunfire broke out early Friday morning and didn’t stop until Kauai’s favorite son was riding the shoulders of his homies up the beach, and Kelly Slater sat utterly alone in the fading Pipeline line-up like the loneliest surfer on earth. So in the spirit of finality, SURFING Magazine thought we’d celebrate the end of this year’s North Shore contest season with a little awards show of our own, for all those folks who waited so patiently on the sidelines, and for everyone else who avoided it altogether. Please hold your applause until everyone’s airplane has landed safely somewhere far, far away.
UNTIMELY ARRIVAL/DEPARTURE AWARD: Embarrassingly enough, this first award goes out SURFING’s own wave-crazed Editor-in-Chief, Evan Slater, who flew back to Hawaii on Saturday in time to catch the final ten minutes of Round Two, and flew home in time to miss the final day of competition, as well as some killer California swell activity. Lesson learned? Doubtful.
CUTEST COUPLE AWARD: Oh this one definitely goes to our new world champ Andy Irons and his sweetheart Lindsay for their From Here To Eternity style shoreline frolicking in front of the Red Bull House. The twenty-some photographers on the beach also deserve a nod here for their gallant efforts at pretending not to notice.
INJURY OF THE WEEK AWARD: Condolences (and strong painkillers) out to Shea Lopez, who tore ligaments in his knee after blasting an ambitious Backdoor floater during his quarterfinals heat. ONLY TAKER AWARD: Hats off to San Clemente charger Nathan Fletcher for being the only surfer to sample the vicious latte heaving against the entire north shore late Wednesday afternoon. Fletcher paddled a totally out-gunned twin-fin into lurchingly, ridiculous burgerland conditions while everyone else just sat back and commentated. While his handful of rides were largely outweighed by ugly monsters he took on the dome, the effort was a commendable one none-the-less.
DAWN PATROL AWARD: This one unfailingly goes to the frothing swarms of spongers who inevitably dominate the first hour of daylight every day (regardless of conditions) and who will now inherit this twisted paradise after all us surf industry sluts haul ass outta here.
SESSION OF THE WEEK AWARD: Sunset Beach, Thursday afternoon: Kelly Slater and Mark Occhilupo (among others) were witnessed going absolutely ballistic for – God forbid – the sheer fun of it. SICKEST MOMENT AWARD: While all eyes were turned to the heightening semi-final drama of the Pipe Masters, Kauai charger Dustin Barca was spotted hurling his guts out on the beach after a particularly unsettling paddle-out at Off-the-Wall. Don’t worry, Dustin, nobody noticed.
BIG FRICKIN’ RAGER AWARD: Depending on your personal temperament, this one is something of a toss-up between the classy DJ-and-fashion-show shin-dig Hurley hosted at Turtle Bay, or the Second Annual World Title Blowout at the Red Bull Compound. But since Red Bull ran out of beer before midnight, tie-breaker goes to Hurley, who didn’t. One way or the other, up and down the North Shore, island loc or haole kook, the toasts were all the same – congratulations to Andy Irons. MODERATION AWARD (or MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED): While everyone else recovered from their AI victory celebrations, avenging angel Kelly Slater was the first one out at Pipe Saturday morning with all the woulda, coulda, shoulda that was missing from his fourth place finish not twelve hours earlier. Even from 500 yards down the beach, the fire in his eyes was clearly visible. If it’s the end of an era, nobody told him.
UNLIKELY UBER-EVENT OF THE WEEK AWARD: With the ugly business of competitive surfing signed, sealed and delivered, every big-name surfer still present on the North Shore turned their attention toward much more pressing matters: namely, the giant kick-ball tournament at Sunset Elementary School. Jack Johnson, Kalani Robb, Joel Centeio, Sean Moody, Fred Patacchia, Tamayo Perry, Jaime O’Brien, Kai-borg, Kala, Slates, AI, and everyone-friggin’-else was there sucking down free beer and kick-balling the hell out of each other. Who won? Who cares? That’s kinda the point.And on that note, we’ll conclude this fairly pointless endeavor of awarding pointless awards for pointless things. It’s all just for fun anyway, when we look beyond the blinding hoopla of trophies, titles and dollar signs.
As every pro and his handlers bolted for their Sunday flight home (my god, you should have seen that airport! pure Christmas chaos!), Huey laughed and whipped up some of that clean, overhead northwest swell that everyone spent the whole time here waiting for. Isn’t that just how it always goes? Oh well, there’s always more waves down the line. But before we close the case on another successful contest season, we’d like to award one last, giant thank you to all the gracious folks on the North Shore who suffer this insane surfing invasion each year during the prime months of their season, as well as all the organizers, technicians, judges, sponsors, super-caddies and hard-working pros (Ha!) for providing us with one of the most exciting years of competitive surfing in history. It’s almost enough to make you want to start the next year already. Almost. For now though, let’s forget about contest ratings, point totals and world titles for while. . .and just go surfing. — Nathan Myers