The women will finally get their day at Pipeline. After several years of controversy, the first women’s surfing event at Pipeline will be held between March 11-16 in conjunction with the women’s bodyboarding championships which kick off the Girls On Boards tour.
For years on-lookers at the Pipeline Masters have wondered why women weren’t included in the ASP event. However, in the surfing community, the consensus is that the world famous Pipeline is too dangerous for women. Interestingly, even the women themselves have been divided about whether or not they would want to compete at Pipeline.
“Pipeline is not a wave for everyone, but the girls who do go out and appreciate a steep take-off should have an opportunity to see where they stand against all the other women,” explained event organizer Betty Depolito, aka Banzai Betty. “Women should get the opportunity to try. The opportunity to build up their talent level out there, to build up their gumption, should be afforded.” The women’s performance debate aside, for the past several years permits for Pipeline or other North Shore spots have been so tight that a women’s event at Pipe, or anywhere for that matter, seemed impossible. Ironically, it is the local North Shore women who have been getting edged out of the North Shore contests for the past several years, and this fact may have been the catalyst which helped their cause the most.
In the late ‘90s, the local North Shore women lost their annual event at Sunset Beach, first to the traveling Women’s Championship Tour girls, then even the ‘CT women lost out to time constraints and politics of one degree or another. This year the last standing women’s WQS event again became limited to WCT women only, confirming to local girls that they would have no pro event in Hawaii this year. Fortunately, Depolito convinced the city/county officials that the local women were getting the short end of the stick. This may have been the push the women needed to get their Pipeline permit from the city/county.
Not only will the contest do justice to local women surfers, but to all women surfers who want to have a chance to compete in a sizable reef break. The Pipeline event has the potential to breed a whole new generation of women surfers and women’s events.
Depolito has invited surfing legends Jericho Poppler and Linda Benson to be a part of the festivities, and she plans on showing all-girl movies in the community during the week. Depolito hopes to run the event in anywhere from 2- to 8- feet surf. “As the season is winding down, March usually kicks in clean solid swells and westerly angles,” explained Depolito. The women’s Pipeline surfing champion and the Pipeline bodyboarding champion will be crowned, as well as the Hawaiian champions in both divisions.