Bonzai Pipeline may be the most famous wave in the world. Dropping in on the main left-hander is wicked steep, which obviously means wicked fast. Topping out at 10 seconds, some single rides have created legends.
Gerry Lopez won here back to back in 1972 and 1973. Tom Carroll was a three-time winner. Andy Irons dominated four times. Kelly Slater? He’s won Pipe Masters seven times. His first win was in 1992. He’ll be competing this year against surfers who weren’t even born at his first win, or his second, third, or fourth (1994, 1995, 1996), for that matter.
The best conditions for the main wave, First Reef, occur with a northwest swell that’s heavier on west than north. A second infamous reef break, Backdoor, will start to roll if the swell moves northerly. If Backdoor opens up, watch for the tube that’s roomy, glassy, and gorgeous…until it’s not. Both waves hit the shallows abruptly, which is why Pipeline can be so dangerous. A third wave, Second Reef, may be ridable, too, during bigger swells.
As for the competition, it’s one of the longest running in pro surfing. It serves as the third leg of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing (after the Vans World Cup of Surfing), and the final comp of the World Surf League (WSL) Men’s World Tour. It’s a big deal.
Expect big crowds at Ehukai Beach Park, or no crowds if you live stream it here.
Photo by ASP/Cestari