North Shore Surf Competitions 2017 – 2018 / The Ultimate Guide

north shore surf competition billabong pipe masters

Finals day at Billabong Pipe Masters / Banzai Pipeline

North Shore surf competitions are some of the most exciting sporting events in the world. That’s not an opinion. Ask anyone who’s been to one—they’re incredible.

Whether you’re an avid surfer or have never touched a surfboard, surf competitions on the North Shore of Oahu are an amazing sight to see. Locals and visitors alike gather on the beach to watch the best surfers in the world pull into 20-foot barreling waves at the infamous Banzai Pipeline. The crowd holds their breath in unison, waiting to see if the surfer is going to make it out the other side, and cheers erupt as the pro spits out of the wave unscathed.

There are lots of things to do on North Shore, Oahu, but if you find yourself in the area during wintertime, do yourself a favor and go see a North Shore surf competition. Also, be sure to check out our North Shore Oahu Guide on where to eat, sleep, play, and stay.

north shore surf competition

Rocky Point from Pill Box lookout

In the winter months between November and March, huge swells bless the North Shore of Oahu with some of the best waves in the world. Said waves attract the best surfers in the world and serve as a stage for a few of the most exciting surf competitions in existence.

Surf competitions work a bit differently than your typical sporting event because organizers are at the mercy of the waves, so below we explain how surf competitions work. And below that, we’ve compiled a list of the top surf competitions on the North Shore and all the dates and details for the 2017 – 2018 winter season.

 

THE LOWDOWN ON SURF COMPETITIONS

In case you’re not familiar with the format of surf contests, here’s the lowdown. Since coordinators can’t predict what exact dates will have the best conditions for surf, there are date windows in which any given contest will take place.

For example, the window for the Pipeline Masters in 2016 was December 8 – 20. During the competition window the weather and wave conditions are closely monitored, and every morning the contest officials make the call whether the contest is on or off.

If you’re visiting Oahu in a contest window, check out the website of the contest host or their social media every morning to see if the contest is on. Or check out the Surfline website, as they usually report whether contests are a go.

 

A FEW TIPS

  • Take binoculars. You’ll be stoked to have them for places like Sunset Beach where the action is a few hundred yards offshore.
  • Pack snacks for the day. Most competition sites have minimal food available if at all.
  • Take your own shade. In the morning there can be some shade, but it’s very limited in most cases and the sun can still be plenty hot in Hawaiian winter.
  • If you bring an umbrella or other shade-giving contraption, do everyone a favor and keep it low or set up to the side.
  • Bring a camera (with a telephoto lens if you have it). It won’t do the waves justice, but you’ll have fun trying.

 

NORTH SHORE SURF COMPETITIONS 2017 – 2018

 

The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing

north shore surf competition vans triple crown

JJF on Finals day at Billabong Pipe Masters / North Shore Oahu

The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing (#VTCS) is one of the most sought-after surf competition titles in the world for a professional surfer, especially a local North Shore Hawaiian surfer since the entire series of events take place on their home turf.

The VTCS is actually a combination of four events. The four events are the HIC PRO at Sunset Beach (a qualifying event), The Hawaiian Pro at Hale’iwa, The Vans World Cup of Surfing at Sunset Beach, and the Billabong Pipe Masters at the infamous Banzai Pipeline.

WHAT: A series of 4 different events. 1 qualifying contest and 3 main contests.

WHERE: Sunset Beach (twice) // Hale’iwa Ali’i Beach Park // Ehukai Beach Park Banzai Pipeline

EVENT WINDOW: November 12 – December 20, 2017

GOOD TO KNOW: The four contests take place over the course of six weeks. Each event has its own window of opportunity to run and a single event will take three to four days to complete. The event coordinators do their best to choose the highest quality surf conditions within any given contest window. The winner of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing is crowned champion after all event points are tallied up at the Billabong Pipe Masters.

SOCIAL MEDIA: #VTCS Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

 

HIC Pro Sunset Beach

north shore surf competition

HIC Pro at Sunset Beach

Since the early 80s, the HIC Pro has been a platform for locals and surfers from around the globe to show off their skills and qualify for entry into the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. Over 100 professional surfers compete for a spot in the world-renowned surf competition and it’s always an epic showdown of wave riding talent not to be missed.

north shore surf competition vans triple crown

Sunset Beach barrel

WHAT: Qualifying event for the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing and WSL QS Contest

WHERE: Sunset Beach, North Shore Oahu

EVENT WINDOW: October 27 – November 9, 2017

GOOD TO KNOW: Since the HIC Pro is a qualifying event as opposed to one of the main events, the competition typically draws fewer crowds. There are a couple of food trucks in the area, including the Insta-famous Sunrise Shack coffee stand on Kam Hwy where you can get your fix of bullet coffee, tea, and papaya bowls.

 

 

Hawaiian Pro Haleʻiwa

north shore surf competition hawaiian pro

The scene at the Hawaiian Pro in Hale’iwa

The Hawaiian Pro is officially the first event of the Vans Triple Crown and is hosted at Ali’i Beach Park to the west of the boat harbor in Haleʻiwa. Haleʻiwa is a surf break with many faces. From punchy waves when it’s under head high to gnarly barrels and closeout bombs when it’s double overhead plus, Haleʻiwa is a training ground for many up-and-coming Hawaiian surfers.

Unlike Sunset Beach where big open face carves and power surfing are suited and often favored, The Hawaiian Pro at Haleʻiwa is the ultimate high-performance surfing arena. If it’s going off at Hale’iwa you can count on witnessing some unreal turns, epic barrels, and an array of ariel maneuvers.

north shore surf competition vans triple crown

Ali’i Beach Park / Hale’iwa

WHAT: First event of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing and WSL QS Contest

WHERE: Hale’iwa Ali’i Beach Park, North Shore Oahu

EVENT WINDOW: November 12  – November 24, 2017

GOOD TO KNOW: Parking can be tricky and expensive if you get a ticket. If you’re parking on the main street make sure that your car is completely off the road and not obstructing any walkways. We’ve seen the parking police give multiple tickets for vehicles that were barely crossing the lines. Food isn’t readily available in the immediate area so pack a lunch if you plan to stay a while.

 

Vans World Cup of Surfing

north shore surf competition vans world cup of surfing

Back at Sunset Beach for the Vans World Cup

For the second competition of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, the crew heads back to Sunset Beach for the Vans World Cup of Surfing. But by this event, all the pros are well warmed up from the previous two events and extra fired up to finish their last two events strong which makes for some exciting heats.

The stakes are higher this time around so the crowds will typically reflect that.

The lineup at Sunset Beach is a massive playing field. The waves can get ginormous and the conditions can be treacherous and unruly. Surfing Sunset Beach is the ultimate proving grounds as there are a variety of conditions to endure— with multiple peaks to navigate and a whole lot of water moving. The waves tend to be big, powerful, and just downright nasty at times, which is all part of the beauty and amazement of Sunset Beach.

You’ll watch in awe as the pros throw down freakish open face carves and pull into dredging barrels. If it’s on and the waves are pumping, the Vans World Cup at Sunset Beach on the North Shore of Oahu is a surf competition that you’ll never forget.

north shore surf competition

Binoculars and a telephoto lens come in handy at Sunset Beach

WHAT: Third event of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing and WSL QS Contest

WHERE: Sunset Beach, North Shore Oahu

EVENT WINDOW: November 25  – December 6, 2017

GOOD TO KNOW: There are a couple of food trucks in the area, including the Insta-famous Sunrise Shack coffee stand where you can get your fix of bullet coffee, tea, and papaya bowls.

 

Billabong Pipe Masters

north shore surf competition billabong pipe masters

Billabong Pipe Masters / Banzai Pipeline

The third and final stop of the Vans Triple Crown is the world-famous Banzai Pipeline. This event doubles as the final event of the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour as well.

Banzai Pipeline is world famous for a lot of reasons, but especially its size, shape, power, perfection, proximity to shore, and its mesmerizing beauty. The break is capable of producing 25-30 feet gaping barrels that explode onto super shallow and craggy coral reef. This all goes down very close to shore making the beach at Pipe the ultimate wave watching platform.

north shore surf competition backdoor

Jordy Smith at Backdoor / Billabong Pipe Masters

WHAT: Final event of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing and the WSL Championship Tour

WHERE: Banzai Pipeline, Ehukai Beach Park, North Shore Oahu

EVENT WINDOW: December 8  – December 20, 2017

GOOD TO KNOW: Banzai Pipeline breaks left. However, pros often surf the right which is known as Backdoor. Depending on which direction is barreling better, the best seats in the house are either slightly up the beach northeast of the main peak if Pipe is doing its thing, or slightly down the beach southwest of the main peak if Backdoor is working instead. If you get hungry you can grab a delicious acai bowl at Crispy Grindz which is only a short walk from Pipe on Kam Hwy directly up the beach access point at Off-the-Wall.

 

The Eddie

‘The Eddie’ is a big wave invitational surf contest named after Eddie Aikau. Eddie is a legendary North Shore lifeguard and surfer who was known to chase the biggest swells and charge the biggest waves. A well-known saying in the surf community is “Eddie would go” referring to the fact the fearless waterman would commit to paddling into the biggest and scariest of waves on offer no matter what.

This big wave North Shore surf competition has been around for 33 years but has only run a total of nine times since 1984 because the waves need to be huge for the contest to run.

The contest has around a three-month window from December through February when everyone involved is keeping a close eye on the surf report in hopes of identifying a swell worthy of running the contest. They look for swells that will produce waves at least in the 30-40 feet range. Last year, defending world champion and North Shore local John John Florence won the prestigious trophy.

After some back and forth between the Aikau family and Quicksilver (the events normal main sponsor), The Eddie 2017-2018 is a go provided a big enough swell blesses the North Shore! The word is that Quicksilver and the Aikau family couldn’t agree on terms to work together so Quicksilver decided not to sponsor the event this season. However, the Aikau clan just decided to host the contest with or without a sponsor on board.

This is a brand new development so hopefully the plan sticks. In the meantime, we’ll be keeping a close eye on the swell charts with our fingers crossed.

WHAT: Invitation-Only Big Wave Surf Contest in memory of Eddie Aikau put on by The Aikau’s

WHERE: Waimea Bay, North Shore Oahu

EVENT WINDOW: December 1, 2017 – February 20, 2018

GOOD TO KNOW: This event is a big deal with a lot of history surrounding it. It has only been given the green light to run eight times in the last 33 years! If you’re lucky enough to be in Oahu and mother ocean provides a proper swell, this is a surf competition that you don’t want to miss. Waimea Bay is the ultimate North Shore surf competition amphitheater with viewpoints surrounding the action. Bring binoculars, pack a lunch, and enjoy the show.

 

 

Volcom Pipe Pro 2018

While this isn’t a Championship Tour event, you’ll still find many of the world’s best and the majority of the top 34 pros taking advantage of the opportunity to surf perfect Pipeline with only a few other surfers in the lineup. You can expect all the same excitement and showmanship as you will find at the other Banzai Pipeline events. There are just a bit less hype and fewer crowds since it’s the beginning of a fresh new season of professional surfing.

WHAT: WSL Men’s Qualifying Series event sponsored by Volcom and Red Bull TV

WHERE: Banzai Pipeline, Ehukai Beach Park, North Shore Oahu

EVENT WINDOW: around January 29th  – February 10th (exact Volcom Pipe Pro 2018 dates TBD)

GOOD TO KNOW: January is a great time to visit the North Shore of Oahu. After the holiday season, there’s still plenty of pros and surfers around but general tourism tends to slow down a bit so it’s somewhat less crowded than December.

 

Da Hui Pipeline Warriors

north shore surf competition vans triple crown

Banzai Pipeline / North Shore Oahu

Pipeline Warriors is an invitation-only North Shore surf competition that features some of the best Hawai’i Pipe surfers and watermen on the planet, featuring not only shortboards but also longboards, bodyboards, and body surfing.

The event is put on by Da Hui and Mauli Ola Foundation.

WHAT: Surf competition hosted by Da Hui

WHERE: Banzai Pipeline, Ehukai Beach Park, North Shore Oahu

EVENT WINDOW: February 20  – March 3, 2018

GOOD TO KNOW: Mauli Ola Foundation is an awesome global non-profit organization that uses surfing and ocean-centric activities as a natural therapy for individuals with genetic diseases. You can learn more about Mauli Ola Foundation and register to volunteer at one of their upcoming surf experience days here.

 

Have we missed any top North Shore surf competitions for the 2017 – 2018 winter season? If so, please share the stoke and fill everyone in with a comment below! 🤙🏽

 

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