North Shore Underground: Best Laid Plans

Pipe Struntz

Pipeline: Normally the underground crew's bread and butter, now a forbidden fruit. Photo: DJ Struntz

North Shore Underground

At 7:45 a.m. today, the Pipe Masters began -- but none of the Vans x SURFING North Shore Underground surfers is in the draw. They’re all Pipe heroes, but they’ll all be somewhere else when the horn blows. Blame the wildcard structure, which twists and turns like a wandering drunk, or blame the boys’ empty travel funds, which keep them tied to the islands and buried deep on the One World Rankings. Blame anything but lack of talent. Blame Canada.

But the boys aren’t sulking and feeling sorry about it. They’re used to la vida underground. Instead of treated, they get tricked. Instead of kisses, they get kicks. Instead of wildcards, they load boards and hit the trail to greener pastures. Pipe’s overrun with jerseys for the next three days, so what now? This northerly swell will live and die by the weekend and leave in its place a forecast no mother could love. Shucks, boys, better get to steppin’.

Ola Eleogram and Hank Gaskell have already decamped for their home island of Maui to suss out a little-known spot that’s simmering with potential. They slipped a note to SURFING photographer Jeff Flindt and he booked his flight to Kahului, ready for anything. Outer island mission is go team go.

Sion Milosky and Evan Valiere, not so lucky perhaps. Sion explains that Kauai, from whence he and Evan hail, is not like Maui. You can’t saddle up with a 600mm lens and get snap happy on secret reefs. Kauai holds its cards close to its chest, and Sion sighed enviously that a mission like Ola and Hank’s just wasn’t an option for him. He’s scrambling to cook up a new plan as the swell builds, but time’s a wasting.

Mikey Bruneau? Man’s got work, like a true underground soldier. He’ll be guarding lives in town today, far from the contest and the swell, and tomorrow too -- but Friday’s an off day for Mikey and he’s just hoping the waves stick around that long.

The first heat at Pipe is in the water now, and the North Shore Underground boys are probably in the water too -- but it’s somewhere else, somewhere far from judges and fanfare. Maybe next year.