Twenty-one invitees and 14 alternates for the Red Bull Jaws big-wave paddle event recently gathered along a bluff overlooking Jaws for the event’s inaugural opening ceremony. Adorned in traditional Hawaiian kihei (a ceremonial cloak) the surfers participated in a traditional Hawaiian blessing that stressed stewardship of the land and respect for the ocean.
“You come with permission,” Kupuna Leslie Kuloloio told the surfers. “But don’t forget, the ocean comes first. You come second. Hawaiians are voyagers—the family of the sea. There is no ownership of the sea, only stewardship. We enter humbly and we have the kuleana, or responsibility, to care for it.”
As the contest director for the event, big-wave legend Mike Parsons emphasized the importance of respect and spirituality that’s at the heart of this contest. “This blessing and calling upon the ocean is something that has been passed down for generations in Hawaii,” said Parsons. “Surfers are connected to the ocean and to have that blessing is something you contemplate before you even put that first foot in the water. Without that blessing, this isn’t possible.”
The 2012-’13 winter will mark the first time the Red Bull Jaws Paddle at Peahi will be held. In line with the recent strides made in big-wave paddle surfing, the one-day, paddle-only event will only run between now and March 15, 2013 if conditions reach 30- to 50-foot faces.