Hubbard, McGee score big at Pipe


POSTED: Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Hawaii is still a stronghold for the sport of bodyboarding. The second day of competition at the Turbo Pipeline Pro yesterday proved it with solid, 12- to 16-foot wave face for the world's best bodyboarders yesterday.

Local boys like Kauai's Dave Hubbard, 26, and Honolulu's Kainoa McGee, 37, reveled in the ideal conditions with the world's most dangerous waves. Both competitors advanced into the next round through different heats and McGee found the waves perfect to “;boogie.”;

“;Conditions for my heat were absolutely beautiful,”; said McGee who has been entering this event for the last 19 years. “;It cleaned up, the wind got good on it and the (swell) direction was really good for bodyboarding: real peaky kind waves with late takeoffs and no time to bottom turn. It was fun and I enjoyed myself.”;

For the past four years, McGee has been making a name for himself as a pro surfer, most recently entering the HIC Pipeline Pro trials earlier this month. But the tall, burly Hawaii resident was originally a professional bodyboarder entering his first Pipe bodyboard event when he was 18 and this event is a rekindling of his original romance at Pipe.

“;It always feels good to go back to the bodyboard,”; he said. “;I love it. There's days I would love to go out there and bodyboard, but I only have one that I have to save for the contest every year. So it totally limits how often I can get out (to Pipe) on a bodyboard.”;

McGee's tube-riding skills are uncanny, especially at Pipeline when the surf is big, and he is one of the few guys who can shortboard stand-up paddle surf and bodyboard Pipe equally adeptly. Unlike many other wave riders, McGee knows the subtleties of riding a surfboard vs. a bodyboard and all of the pros and cons.

“;Certain times a surfboard (at Pipe) is easier and certain times it's harder, there's a lot more board so you can get it early,”; explained McGee. “;But, the benefit of the bodyboard is you can take off late under the lip and still make it; where on a surfboard it's pretty gnarly.”;

McGee will be taking off late and deep at Pipe when competition resumes. Although he's not chasing an International Bodyboard Association world championship this year, he's still paddling out to win the Turbo Pipeline Pro.

“;Any win in general is always good, but winning at Pipe would mean the world to me,”; he said. “;Pipeline is a special place for me. It's good for my soul. I could be having the worst day ever, go out to Pipe, get a couple of sick waves and feel content to just wash the day off.”;

This is the IBA's first contest of the 2009 season and a Grand Slam event, which means there are double the ratings points up for grabs for competitors.

“;(Bodyboarding) gets a lot of love in Hawaii,”; said Terry McKenna who is the international tour manager of the IBA. “;It's been at the forefront of the sport ever since, thanks to guys like Hubb (Jeff Hubbard) and Dubb (Dave Hubbard) and Mike Stewart in particular. It's a great place to come because we always get a lot of support from the locals. You guys have the best waves in the world so we love coming here.”;

When competition resumes, McGee and Dave Hubbard will go up against former bodyboard world champs Mike Stewart, Guliherme Tamega and Jeff Hubbard.

The contest hotline is 203-0491.