Words & Frames by Robin Pailler
I guess event recaps held a lot more weight pre-internet. Now it’s like, what’s the point?
Mainly because you all probably watched the event live in glorious HD on your phone, laptop and television screens respectively.
So what can I tell you to make this of some interest?
Well first off, the opening ceremony/blessing delivered by Nā Kama Kai and his family is honestly the most beautiful way to open proceedings and indicative of the warmth Hawaiians show us each and every time we’re invited to witness the magic of the North Shore.
By now you know that Moana Jones-Wong & John John Florence won their respective Vans Pipe Masters titles; both thoroughly deserved I may add.
Not gonna lie though, I was pretty devastated to see M Feb, aka the people’s champ, avec fresh trim et al, miss out on a place in the finals after a truly exemplary backdoor performance on day one. In fact most of the mens third heats got absolutely skunked by uninspiring waves. Fucking way she goes I guess.
Having said that Harry Bryant did score a perfect 30 on the final day, which was truly a sight to behold. His new film Motel Hell by Dave Fox is also an absolute belter, not to mention the funniest surf movie you’ll see for quite some time. Ask Noa Deane. He was crying with laughter throughout during the prem. If you haven’t yet seen it, then make sure you book some time off for repeated viewings when it drops online in February. It’s that fucking good. I’m talking Pentacoastal level good. Plus it’s got cameos from the likes of Wade Goodall, Eithan Osbourne, Rolo Montes and Tom Lowe to name a few. The latter three who were all present at Pipe. Eithan actually dislocated his shoulder during his first heat which looked agonising to say the least. He somehow popped it back in and soldiered on in true “give a fuck” Eithan fashion.
Tom Lowe was on great form too, making time for everyone whilst in full parenting mode. Our brief interaction consisted mainly of me praising him and Jack Whitefield for their full length documentary ARNOW. I still think it got criminally overlooked upon its release for whatever reason. So if you’ve yet to see it then stop reading this immediately and go watch it here. And if you have seen it, then go watch it again. It’s truly a work of art.
Rolo Montes is another I was stoked to cross paths with. An absolute gem of a human and probably the biggest hunk in surfing right now, according to several female sources I spoke to over the course of the week. He wasn’t competing sadly but he was out there stacking clips and rolling spliffs. Again, his Motel Hell cameo is a treat, complete with a hilarious one eyed intro and I’m not referring to his penis, so calm down ladies.
What else? Oh, Holly Wawn was on top form as always. Absolutely nailing her presenter role for the broadcast. She also saved my ass a few times by taking the wheel after I got carried away on the seltzers. Thanks for that Holly! A true WT affiliate.
Talking of WT affiliates, we were hyped to see our Senegalese brother Monsieur Cherif Fall in the comp. For those unfamiliar I recommend you go watch On est Esemble followed by Fraternité. If you haven’t clocked by now, I’m basically using this recap as an unapologetic recap of all our videos. All of which are far more enjoyable than reading this drivel.
Although I will take this opportunity to shamelessly plug one of my own by mentioning that the Vans skate team were in town. Our guy Rowan Zorilla on top form as always. If you’ve yet to see our recent feature Vista Virtues, then give it a watch here. By the time said skate team linked up with us on the north shore they were all pretty cooked having been on the island for a week already. Rumour has it Elijah Berle was on an absolute tear, stacking no less than nine bangers. Might as well use this a segue to plug our piece on Mr Berle from a few years ago here. Did I mention Curren got barreled at Turtle Bay upon his arrival? Something none of us thought was possible.
Back to the main event. Two of our favourite Australians Craig Anderson and Shaun Manners were both in town. Neither fared too well in the comp sadly, but it’s the taking part that counts right? Shaun’s definitely the man of the hour right now it seems. That 22 minute documentary Former just put out on him is well worth your time.
Talking of Australians, Russell Bierke looked like he was having an absolute blast out there. Again, I recommend you go watch his latest video Outer Ledge of Leisure by Andrew Kaineder. A 15 minute delight of slow motion epic-ness, beautifully backed by Maria Moles’ percussive sounds, reminiscent of Antonio Sánchez’s Grammy award winning score for Birdman.
Gotta say though, that my Australian MVP of the trip was undoubtedly Sam Hetherington. Despite working for the enemy in the form of Monster Children (I jest of course) and initially spelling my surname wrong in her honourable mentions (it happens quite often), Sam was a welcome beacon of non stop banter and good vibes. She can also hold her own at parties having attended both outings at the Quik house until the early hours, of which I was far too scared to attend knowing I wouldn’t survive the morning after hangovers. Not that I wish to plug the enemy but her recap offers a much more thorough breakdown of the week’s antics. Dare I say inspired by my Duct Tape Sayulita recap, right Sam?
Honourable mentions for MVPs should also go out to Frankie Herrer and Hugo Boserup, aka the coolest surf/skate couple out there, who welcomed us on their back porch for prime Pipe viewing on a daily basis, as well as the Sunbum house next door, which also provided optimal balcony viewing with the added bonus of permission to blaze. That’s not to say we weren’t granted front row seats in the media area of course.
All banter aside though, much love to Vans for inviting us to bear witness to history in the making once again, providing sterling accommodation as well as exquisite food, truly, all whilst allowing us all to indulge in plenty of Fat Tire ales and delicious citrus fruit seltzers. You also nailed it with the heat formats this year, ensuring everyone got a fair opportunity in the water. Very few brands invest in the true essence of surf culture nowadays and your efforts to give back to the community time and time again, as well as supporting independent media platforms do not go unnoticed. And for that, we salute you.
Nevertheless, the real heroes are the residents of O‘ahu and the North Shore in particular. Every year the circus descends upon your idyllic corner of the world, upending your daily peacefulness with disarrayed parking and relentless Foodland queues, yet you never fail to welcome us with open arms. During times rife with localism globally and a news cycle fueled by despair and conflict, the people of the North Shore set the bar for what a compassionate and forgiving society can look like. So despite this obnoxious, self indulgent, banter ridden recap, I’d genuinely like to thank everyone on the rock for allowing us into your home and letting us bear witness to what is undoubtedly the Mecca of big wave surfing. Your generosity, patience and love is appreciated more than words can describe. Mahalo to you all xxx