It’s been a whirlwind of a winter on the North Shore this year. Between North Shore surf lessons and adventures, we’ve been busy tracking record-breaking swells and keeping up with the frenzy of professional surfing events along the Seven Mile Miracle. There’s been a lot happening on the North Shore, from the several events at Pipe to the Backdoor Shootout, the historic Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational, and the recent WSL event at Sunset. It can be a lot to keep up with for surf fans. Fortunately for surf fans everywhere, we’ve been watching carefully. To relive the action from this year’s winter season, dive into The JOB Surf Experience North Shore Winter Recap 2023 below.
The Van’s Pipe Masters
As we mentioned in our previous post covering the event, this season’s Van’s Pipe Masters ran a bit differently. The contest served as a specialty World Tour event in which World Tour Surfers participated in the Pipe Masters without the contest affecting the CT rankings. The event also featured a new competitive format that gave equal representation to local Hawaiian surfers and WSL competitors alike. Perhaps the most significant change to the contest was the addition of a women’s side of the competition. Vans also changed the judging criteria to reward progressive aerial and high-performance end-section maneuvers. While the new contest format got mixed reviews from fans and participants, it led to one of the best Pipe barrels by a woman ever. Carissa Moore knifed a late drop to stick a historic ride on the second day of competition. The event came to an exciting conclusion, with Molly Picklum earning a decisive victory on the women’s side. On the men’s side, Balaram Stack dominated the competition from his opening heat to the final and came away with a well-deserved victory.
The Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational
The Eddie made international headlines this year when it ran during a historic Waimea Bay swell. For those who don’t know, The Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational is a monumental event in surfing that, until this winter, hadn’t run since 2015. The celebrated contest is held in memory of the famed North Shore lifeguard and waterman Eddie Aikau. For the contest, “the Bay calls the day,” meaning the event only runs during exceptional conditions. For that reason, multiple years pass without Eddie Running. This year, the Eddie ran, and history was made when working North Shore lifeguard Luke Shepardson took a break from the stand to paddle out for his heat. Luke competed valiantly, taking off on the biggest waves of the day and earning the highest total heat score to secure the event win. Not only was the contest won by a lifeguard, a true honor considering Eddie Aikau’s past, but it was done with grace and humility as Luke returned to the stand after celebrating his victory.
The Billabong Pipe Pro
The Billabong Pipe Pro ran as the first event of the WSL season, and things got off to a hot start. Both men and women competed at Pipe in an event that’s unlikely to be forgotten. Most surfers and fans will remember the contest for John John’s near-perfect heat, which will likely go down as one of the best heat totals of the year. The event also crowned two new Pipeline champions, Jack Robinson and Carissa Moore, two fearless surfers who many saw their victories as a long time coming.
The Hurley Pro Sunset Beach
Sunset is organized Chaos. The wave is beautiful and cruel at the same time. A powerful righthander with several peaks and clean, carvable walls that packs a serious punch. Many surfers have a love-hate relationship with the wave. It’s a power surfer’s wave through and through. This year’s event at Sunset saw four straight days of pumping surf with controversial inference calls, JJF disappearing acts, and broken boards. On the women’s side, Brisa Hennessy took home the trophy and the top spot on the WSL leaderboard heading into Portugal. Hennessy, who competes under the Costa Rican flag, held her own in the final round against Hawaii’s Malia Manuel to earn her first Championship tour victory and the first-ever CT win for a Costa Rican surfer. Barron Mamiya, who entered the event as an injury replacement for Carlos Munoz, fought his way through each day of competition to end up on top. You may remember Mamiya for his exciting Pipe heat against Kelly Slater last year. Barron Mamiya represents the next generation of great Hawaiian surfers, and we’re excited to watch as he continues to earn his place amongst the world’s best.
If you missed the action of this year’s winter season on the North Shore, it’s not too late to book your stay for next winter at Turtle Bay Resort. Have a surf adventure of your own in the calm, beginner-friendly waters of Turtle Bay with JOB Surf Experience, the North Shore’s number-one surf school.