Friday (2/23): I was watching the local news, waiting for the weather report, when Robert
Kekaula gave a teaser about a bodyboarder generating some controversy at the HIC Pipeline
Pro contest. Found out that none other than Chris Taloa (formerly Chris Won) decided to
compete--the kicker is Chris is a bodyboarder who stands up on his board!
Chris Taloa Practicing his Standup Routine
People were at first amused by his antics, but hardcore surfers were distraught when he advanced in his first round heat. "Blasphemy" and "foul" cried some.
The HIC is no "Mickey Mouse" event--it's the second contest in the HPAC series, whose past winners include Derek Ho, Kaipo Jaquias and Larry Rios. It's also a WQS feeder contest whose points count towards going to the big leagues (WCT).
The local news showed Chris ripping up the small surf at Gums (next to Pipe), carving and trimming like a surfer, and doing 360 floaters. He then gave a typical Chris Taloa "If they don't like it, f*** 'em" interview. I was howling.
Saturday (2/24): It was my surf day, so I decided to go to Ehukai and catch some waves before the contest, and maybe talk story to some people.
The surf was still small--maybe two-to-four--but fun, with a well-defined sandbar across the beach. In fact, the beach grew to double its size since those sand-stealing swells in December.
I caught some good ones at Gums before the Hui water patrol pushed us over to Ehukai proper. I also had some nasty wipeouts: crushed my jaw doing an el rollo, overrotated on another, got drilled into the sand on a third. The sandbar was creating some funky conditions.
Afterwards, I went to the scaffolding to talk to some of the contest dudes. I've worked at HPAC and HSF contest for years, so I pretty much know all the boys( and Jeannie Chesser, the only girl).
The contest director, Nelson Togioka, said he got a lot of heat letting Chris Taloa into the contest, but there pretty much wasn't anything he could do about it. The rules do not define a surfboard as being hard or soft.
The head judge, Jack Shipley, said that Chris ripped in his heat, but that he would have a very difficult time today. A note on Jack: he had his left leg amputated after a bout with cancer, but still is out there every weekend, judging amateur and pro events. Inspirational. (Look for an interview of him soon).
As we were talking, Chris went out in his second round heat. Although I couldn't stay till the end of the heat, I saw him tear it up in typical Taloa fashion: two in-and-out barrels, carves, and floaters. All done on 43" of foam. Although he did all the maneuvers, Chris looked noticeably slower than his competitors--whadda ya expect on a bodyboard.
Anyway, found out later that he didn't advance--got third in the four man heat. But he did bring up some interesting topics. (1) Surfing is surfing--it doesn't matter what you ride, but how you ride it, (2) Can a bodyboarder and surfer be judged in the same heat (?), (3) Who is his barber?
Tuesday (2/27): The final day of the HIC Pipeline Pro ran on an increasing northwest swell. The waves started at a glassy three-to-five in the morning, and pumped into onshore second-reef twelve footers by the finals. The winner was high school senior Andy Irons, who is still an amateur. Andy beat out Shane Beschen, Derek Ho and Davey Miller, catching some bombs in the final. Watch for him in the future (along with his younger brother, Bruce).
Thursday (2/29): The surf is going down from a high of fifteen feet yesterday. The trades are finally starting to kick back in, also. Hope the waves get smaller and cleaner for the weekend--us lightweights gotta have some fun too, ya know.
Aloha from Paradise,