Sometimes you’ve got to be careful what you wish for.
While organisers of the Mike Stewart Pipeline Invitational were hoping for big waves at the inaugural event, nobody was expecting conditions to be this big.
With some of the largest swells in decades to hit Hawaii’s North Shore this week, MSPI contest director Mike Stewart faces the unusual predicament of trying to find a period of smaller waves to hold the event.
The North Shore population awoke to mayhem this morning (Monday) as 20-30 feet waves pounded the coastline, causing all beaches to be closed as freak sets often washed over the shore and on to the Kamehameha Highway.
However, due to unbearable winds of the past few days, the mammoth conditions could only be experienced from the safety of the shoreline for wave riders, with Hawaiian lifeguards closing down the entrance to notorious big wave spots such as Waimea Bay and Log Cabins.
Conditions are expected to remain large on Tuesday, with the dropping North West swell predicted to render most breaks on the North Shore unrideable.
Mike Stewart said he is hopeful to hold the first day of the Pipeline Invitational on Wednesday, depending on whether the conditions clean up in time.
“We’re on standby for Wednesday (and) we will be making a call on Tuesday morning,” Stewart said.
“(The swell) might be a little North. If it is too North then we won’t run it. (Pipeline) can handle North swell and still be okay, however we want optimum conditions for the event.”
Wave heights are expected to break records by Thursday, with Surfline.com predicting waves up to 60 feet to hit the North Shore – arguably the largest swell to hit the region in 18 years.
“Thursday is going to be a special day,” Stewart said.
“It is the biggest swell of the year and people are calling it the biggest in 18 years. It is going to be a significant swell event.
“There is pretty much a zero per cent chance of the event running on Thursday. Unless it is a hoax swell and a fraction of that size.”
Looking ahead, Stewart said there is a strong possibility for the contest to take place on Saturday, February 27, with wave heights forecasted to be in the 10 to 15 feet range with optimal light North East winds.
Stay tuned to Riptide for the latest updates of the Mike Stewart Pipeline Invitational.
About the Mike Stewart Pipeline Invitational:
The most famous wave in the world returns to the APB World Tour opening the 2016 season in great style. APB 2016 Mike Stewart Invitational will run from February 21st – March 4th, after a year hiatus from the tour. More than 80 athletes from 13 countries will compete in this iconic event.
Jared Houston (ZAF), current world champion is very excited to compete at Pipe.
“This will be a different year for me . I can deal very well with the pressure”, said Houston.
“I will try to be the best as I can. In 2015, I reached my ultimate goal to become World Champ and this year I just hope to have some fun again on the tour.
An impressive field of elite athletes will converge on Pipeline during the next two weeks for the first event of APB World Tour. With thirty-five competitors, Hawaii has the largest contingent of athletes in the Mike Stewart Pipeline Invitational, followed by Australia (14) , South Africa (8) , Tahiti and Brazil (6) , United States (4) and Chile (3). Puerto Rico, Reunion Islands and France have two riders each, while Ireland, Japan and the Canary Islands have one.
The first three rounds will define the sixteen athletes who will advance to Round 4, where the top-16 are seeded. Important names from the world scene as Australian Dave Winchester and Ryan Hardy , both returning to the world tour, six-time champion Guilherme Tamega (which will compete as a wild card ) and the South African Andre Botha will compete in Round 3.
Top 16 – Main Event
Current world champion Jared Houston leads the top-16, which are closely followed by previous world champions Jeff Hubbard, Pierre-Louis Costes, Amaury Laverhne, Ben Player and current Pro Junior world champion Socrates Santana of Brazil.
The young kid from favela Pavão-Pavãozinho will compete for the first time on North Shore.
“I always had the dream of visiting Hawaii, but do not expect it to be so soon,” said the Brazilian.
The 2016 APB Mike Stewart Pipeline Invitational is proudly supported by the Science, Gyroll, Viper and Kelloggs.
Feature image: Pipeline peak by Josh Tabone