Do bodyboarding and bodysurfing deserve competition permits at Pipeline?

July 2, 2018 | Bodyboarding
Mike Stewart: Pipeline wave rider for 37 years | Photo: APB

The Oahu wave riding community believes that the proposed amendments to the governing of North Shore events will make it unlikely that bodyboarding and bodysurfing contests will be granted permits at Pipeline.

The City and County of Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation (C&CH DPR) announced a list of changes that will have a huge impact on less structured world and regional sports organizations.

They include:

a) A change in the deadline to submit shore water event applications to no later than 90 days prior to the date of the event;

b) The adoption of new procedures in the governing application process for submittal of multiple applications for surf events;

c) The change of scheduling on the North Shore surf calendar from a yearly cycle to a three-year cycle and establishment of new deadlines for filing of permit applications;

According to multiple bodyboarding and bodysurfing world champion, Mike Stewart, the new proposed city rules will dramatically abolish traditional forms of wave riding from Pipeline.

"Paipo, the traditional bodyboard, and bodysurfing have been prolific throughout Hawaiian history and culture. The very first event on the North Shore occurred in 1971, and it was a paipo and bodysurfing event," Mike Stewart tells SurferToday.

"Since then, bodyboarding has been on most North Shore competition calendar years. Personally, as a competitor in both sports, as well as being a Pipeline free surfer for the last 37 years, I seek to find a balance solution amongst all interested parties, not the least of which are free surfers."

The use of Pipeline: bodyboarders ride the wave, but don't have permits to run contests

Therefore, Stewart and a group of wave riders launched a petition with 12 specific proposals that aim to balance everyone's interests. They include:

a) The possibility to issue permits to events applicants who use the least amount of time and process the most competitors in their events;

b) No event shall be allowed more than three competition days;

c) Allow bodyboarding and bodysurfing a proportionate presence on the calendar, so that shortboard surfing is not monopolizing the entire calendar;

d) Allow surf sports, in addition to long surfboard competition, to equitably use Waimea Bay as a big wave venue by implementing size criteria for different categories for bodyboarding and bodysurfing, which can co-exist on schedule without being in conflict, since they need different sizes and conditions to run event;

The Pipe Invitational bodyboarding contest, for example, features, on average, four times more local Hawaiian residents than any other territory. In 2017, there were 42 local resident entrants in the prone division alone.

However, and according to Mike Stewart, the sport of surfing has had 375 permit hours on the North Shore, comparing to bodysurfing's nine hours, and to bodyboarding's zero hours.

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