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The Billabong Pipe Masters is like the Super Bowl of surfing. Millions around the world tune in to the live webcast, while thousands flock to Oahu’s north shore for a chance to experience the hype at Pipe.
My fiance, our furry co-pilot Pakala and I were among the mobs that headed north on the morning of the Pipe Masters 2013. We packed up the car, put on some tunes and putt-putted our way to the contest. Until, that is, we reached the first traffic light on Kamehameha Highway – where a snaking line of cars looked very much like a parking lot.
Thinking we’d outsmart the rest, we quickly turned around for a Plan B, which was to drive through Haleiwa town instead. That didn’t look so good either, so we went to Plan C: Go back home and watch the contest on our new flatscreen! An early Christmas present to ourselves that already proved its worth.
We got back just in time to witness Aussie surfer Mick Fanning take the world title with a 9.5 ride to victory! The crowd looked gnarlier than the surf rolling into Pipe. Thousands spread out across the beach, with most of the crowd focused around the judging tents. The announcers mentioned that people were parked along Kamehameha Highway from Haleiwa to Velzyland. That’s the entire “Seven Mile Miracle,” as the north shore’s called, packed with people and cars!
No, thank you! Maybe if we had been better prepared and got an earlier start, then I would be stoked to be out there. But to sit in two-plus hours of traffic to Pipe, only to show up for the tail-end of the wave show was not how I wanted to spend my day off.
If you plan to watch a surf contest in Hawaii, especially the popular ones on the north shore, then plan ahead! Get there early to find the best spot in the lot and on the beach but still be prepared to face the crowds. Or, if you’d rather not deal with the madness, then tune in from the comfort of your hotel room, where cold drinks and AC await.