International Surfers take over the podium at the North Shore in the 2020 Volcom Pipe Pro

Hello, CHS. I am a 2019 grad of CHS and I am currently taking a gap year before attending Boston University this fall. I will study finance and computer science and I will be on the swim team competing for BU. Currently, I am spending a couple of months on the north shore of Oahu doing an internship at Sunset Beach Christian Church with a focus on children’s ministry. Recently, there was a world-class surf event, the Volcom Pipe Pro (VPP), which I was able to shoot and report on for the Wolfpacket.

The 11th edition of the Volcom Pipe Pro kicked off on Jan. 29th, 2020, at the famed surf break, The Banzai Pipeline, on the north shore of Oahu. Every winter, the world’s top surfing talent floods the North Shore from late October to April to surf these amazing waves. There is a reason why the stretch of beach that Pipeline lies on is called “The Seven-Mile Miracle.” These beaches, from spots such as Waimea Bay
(where big swells can top out at 40+ feet), Log Cabins, Off the Wall, Backdoor, Pipeline, and Sunset Beach, are the proving grounds for surfers around the world trying to make a name for themselves.

The Volcom Pipe Pro event is held on the Qualifying Series (QS) tour for surfers hoping to make the Championship Tour (CT). This year, the event was upgraded from a QS 3,000 to a 5,000-point QS event, making it more lucrative for the best surfers. At the end of the season, the top 10 surfers with the most points on the QS tour are able to move up to the CT. The event is held on any 4 days during the 13-day waiting period to allow for the most favorable conditions.

This year the event was comprised of 144 surfers all competing for their share of a $100,000 prize pool. Some notable names competing include Reef Hazelwood (2019 VPP 3rd place finisher), Jack Robinson (last year’s winner), Nathan Florence (brother of 2016 world champion John John Florence), John John Florence (4x Volcom Pipe Pro champion), and Jamie O’Brian (2010 VPP winner), just to name a few. With this summer being the first time that surfing is held in the Olympics, I sat down with Reef Hazelwood to get his opinion on it.

“I’m really looking forward to [the Olympics], as it’s a way to see all these different elite athletes and to be a part of it all,” Reef said.

The event began on the morning of Jan. 29, 2020 in perfect conditions with the top athletes getting byes into the later rounds. One highlight from the first day came from North Shore resident Eala Stewart who had a beautiful, deep tube ride which garnered him an 8.93 out a possible 10.

“I’m over the moon right now; I’m really stoked that that wave came to me,” Eala said in an interview afterward.

The contest continued the following days with conditions gradually deteriorating until the fourth and final day. With a weakening swell and unfavorable winds, the start was delayed a few hours as organizers were assesing whether to run the event or not. At 9:30 a.m., the contest was given the green light to send the quarterfinal heats into the water. The quarter and semifinal heats came and went, with some notable names being knocked out, including Jack Robinson. In the end, the Brazilians dominated the final heat as Joao Chianca and Yago Dora claimed second and third, respectively. Local favorite from the north shore, Seth Moniz, came in fourth. It was Wiggolly Dantas, who could barely hold back tears during the awards show, that ultimately collected the $15,000 and the QS 5,000 series points.