Like a sleeping giant, Banzai Pipeline woke up on Jan. 9 after a five-week slumber and welcomed back Da Hui Backdoor Shootout with monstrous, 8- to 12-foot (16- to 24-foot faces) surf. This contest is unlike any other during the winter season because of its no-elimination format, team competition and huge prize purse– sponsors pay out 20-grand per four-man team. Cha-ching.
The big money brought big waves for the 6 teams competing, as 3rd and 2nd Reef bombs blasted through Pipeline and closed out Backdoor. Although the majority of the contestants are considered Pipeline specialists, many were forced to the "Walk of Shame" (the subsequent jog back up the beach after a wipeout that washes you to 'Ehukai Beach Park) because of the gigantic northwest, ground swell. Yet, you were fortunate to get pushed back to shore instead of being drug into the impact zone. Brutal.
The Banzai dealt out more "doughnuts" today than Ted's Bakery in a week. Just ask Pipeline Posse deputy, Jason Frederico, who took a triple-overhead set to the dome in round 2. The 27-year-old goofy-foot barley was clearly shaken up after the pounding of his life.
"That was the gnarliest Pipeline I surfed all year, if not ever, because it's so big, strong and the water is so thick today. As unlucky as it looked, I was just lucky to make it," admitted J-Fred. "At one point I gave up. I was so tired and took so many to the head. One really got me and took me deep. I was totally out of breath. Calmly, I was like, 'fuck it,' but as soon as I said it something just popped me back up to the surface and I got a breath of air."
The first two rounds of Da Hui Backdoor Shootout wasn't all guts, there was plenty of glory. Frederico's teammate and BFF, Jamie O'Brien, claimed the wave of the day in the second round– a 10-foot Pipe beast. JOB was beyond deep and had to grab a rail before narrowly escaping an axing lip, scoring a 10.25 out of 12. Filthy.
"I thought I was a little too deep, but you have to put it all on the line. The only way to get a 10 is to go on the one you don't know if you're going to make," said O'Brien, who is leading the competition. "I got my line and I was pretty deep. I just squeaked out and it almost got me. I'm not much of a claimer, but I was so schized-out that I almost claimed myself off my board."
Jamie's backyard went mental with him. Partly because of the wave, but mostly because the competitor's area, judge's scaffolding and beach marshal tent is literally in O'Brien's backyard. If the rising ground swell doesn't close out Pipe, the O'Brien house pandemonium and 2008 Da Hui Backdoor Shootout will most likely run on Thursday. Nice!
6th Annual Da Hui Backdoor Shootout Team Roster