Rob Machado, of California, wiped out over a big wave yesterday during the Xbox Pipeline Masters trials on the North Shore. Despite the high-flying wipeout, Machado went on to win the trials and earn a place alongside the top 46 surfers in the main event.

North Shore
residents, surfers
debate pro meets

Some say the events spoil
the surfing experience for
those who don't compete

By Rod Antone

Surfing is not as simple as it used to be, according to legendary surfer Peter Cole.

"The whole scene drives me nuts," said Cole, 72. "I'm glad I'm as old as I am, because we didn't have to deal with all this, we just went out and surfed."

Cole was among nearly 100 surfers, small-business owners, North Shore residents and surf contest promoters who gathered last night at the Sunset Beach Elementary School cafeteria to debate how surf contests should be run and their impact on the community.

"I feel like we're being exploited here on the North Shore," said surfer and Mililani resident Thomas Marino. "A lot of these guys surfing in these contests aren't even local."

The meeting was called by the Let's Surf Coalition, which wants the city to stop issuing exemptions to its guidelines for surf contests. The group says recreational surfers are suffering because contests take up too many of the best surfing days.

The coalition feels that the Association of Surfing Professionals, an international surf organization, was dictating to Hawaii how surf events should be run.

The ASP recently applied for a permit calling for two-man heats instead of the four-man heats allowed by the city. Fewer surfers per heat means the contest will last longer and limit the number of surfers who could compete.

"It's a waste of resources with two people in the water," said professional surfer Pancho Sullivan, who was born and raised on the North Shore, "and the people that end up getting excluded are the local surfers."

Wayne "Rabbit" Bartholomew, ASP president and former world champion surfer, did not disagree.

"Whatever the rules are at the end of the day, that's the rules. We'll abide by them."

But Bartholomew said the organization wants to have the same contest rules at every venue in the world where it holds a contest, and that is why it applied for a permit for two-man heats.

Some are concerned that changing the rules may mean fewer contests.

Caught in the middle of this dispute are the people who live and work on the North Shore. Some, like Leslie Kanaiaupuni, who runs a North Shore surf shop, depend on surfing events to bring in customers.

"None of us out here are rich. We're all struggling," said Kanaiaupuni. "Surfing events are extremely important to small business."

But other residents complained about the traffic and the crowds when there is a surf event at the Banzai Pipeline or Sunset Beach.

"It's a surfing event, then a movie, then another surfing event back to back. There's no peace out here," said Don Muraco, North Shore resident, surfer and former World Wrestling Federation wrestler. "We're prostitutes for the surfing industry. Why is it our responsibility to support it?"

Manny Menendez, director of the city's Office of Economic Development, which is responsible for scheduling ocean events, said: "There's a lot of valuable suggestions that were talked about here tonight. Obviously there needs to be some refinements to the rules. The main thing is that we all work together on this."

Menendez said there will be another community meeting in January.

E-mail to City Desk


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