A Guide to the North Shore’s Winter of Surf


Sam Brooks

Billboard at Billabong Pipe Masters 2016 contest

If you find yourself on the island of Oahu through December, then you are in luck because the North Shore of Oahu is home to multiple professional surf competitions as a result of massive waves that are ideal conditions for surfing during the winter months. Professional surfers from all over the world culminate on the North Shore during these competitions which makes it an ideal place to spot your favorite surfer on the beach or out in the waves.

The 2017 HIC Pro qualifying heats were held at Haleiwa Ali’i Beach Park on the North Shore from Oct. 26 through Nov 9. Surfers who made it through the qualifying heats competed in the first event of the Triple Crown Reef contests at Haleiwa Alii Beach Park from Nov. 12 through Nov. 24 ending with Filipe Toledo being crowned the Hawaiian Pro champion for the first time in his career.

The next competition of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing was held at Sunset Beach on the North Shore from Nov. 25 through Dec. 6. The conditions at Sunset Beach were messy but the waves had good size which allowed Hawaii’s own Ezekiel Lau to clench the victory for the second time in his professional career.

The first two events of the Vans Triple Crown surf competitions have already come and gone this year but there is still time to catch the last and possibly the most death defying event of them all due to at least one person dying every year surfing at Pipeline. This final event also represents the last of the World Surf League Tour which is surrounded with an insane amount of hype as the World Champion of Surfing will be crowned at the end of the Pipe Masters.

The Billabong Pipe Masters surf competition will be held at Pipeline, Ehukai Beach Park, North Shore on Dec 8. and goes until Dec. 20. The wave at Pipeline has been recognized by many as the perfect wave however the wave is incredibly dangerous due to the power behind the wave that crashes into inches of water above a jagged reef.

Some of the top pro surfers that will be competing in the Billabong Pipe Masters this year include Californian Kanoa Igarashi, Kelly Slater from Florida, Australians Owen Wright and Matt Wilkinson, Hawaii’s John John Florence and Ezekiel Lau, and Gabriel Medina all the way from Brazil.

After all of the World Surf League Tour events have come to an end, the waves on the North Shore get even larger than they had been during the Vans Triple Crown events. Waves at Waimea Bay reach heights of 30 to 40 feet and believe it or not there are actually surfers insane enough to catch and ride them. One of these surfers, famous for surfing Waimea Bay, was Hawaii’s very own Eddie Aikau who was tragically lost at sea while swimming for help after his deep sea voyaging canoe flipped traveling for the South Pacific.

The big wave surf contest that is held at Waimea Bay is done in memory of Eddie Aikau and competition only commences when the waves are almost 40 feet, thus the contest does not get the green light every year which makes it a real special event when it does happen. In past years the Eddie was run by Quicksilver, but disagreements with the Aikau family over the event and how it has been run in past years caused Quicksilver to relinquish control of the event back to the Aikau family. The Eddie will not take place this year even if the waves are large enough but the Aikau family plans on hosting this surf competition in the future.

So if you are on Oahu this winter and are able to make the hour drive up to the North Shore there is still time to catch the Billabong Pipeline Masters, but unfortunately this year the Eddie Aikau Surf Contest will not go.