No answers have been given as to why the decision was made but it is based on a point system that has been used for many years. City officials approve applications by established rules and there are only 16 days that are allowed for competitions during the peak season. The rules were initiated by community leaders and City personnel to ease the concerns of local residents and recreational users. The Women were denied along with other groups.
“ I can understand all points of view”, said Woman’s Pipeline Pro Contest Director Betty Depolito. “ There are several groups that would like to have an event at Pipeline, it’s the most prestigious surf spot in the world and offers a great viewing arena. It’s a really tough blow for the girls that want the event and for me as an organizer. I spent many hours working on building the contest and it has seen major growth. As well I was once on the community committee to establish rules for the community. As a recreational surfer it’s already hard to get those good days and any good waves period! So it is yin and yang for sure.”
Although there is no issued permit the contest directors often work with each other to use the entire 16 days allowed. There may also be off-season days available. “This could be a possibility for the ladies” explained Depolito.” There may be a day floating around to use for the contest but it’s a long shot.” There are additional rules regarding “cooling off periods” and other considerations involved.
Women’s Professional surfing in Hawaii is definitely hurt by this situation. The bigger events hold few spots for local pros to enter and the Pipeline contest was open to all Women. There is also a body boarding and long boarding contest built into the waiting period.
“ I think it’s a shame there is no permit.” Said Faith Wenzel, Association of Surfing Professionals.
“With so few Women’s professional surfing events in Hawaii it hurts to loose any.”Following is a statement from Bethany Hamilton who has competed in the event since it started. “This Pipeline surprise scramble is like knowing you strategize for a wave in the water, did everything you could to get yourself in shape and out there only to get cut off. Sure there will be other waves and other days but not at Pipeline. The crowds don’t allow women the chance to perform, train and free surf to really get to know the break. The tiny window of opportunity of this event allowed us women to enjoy for a moment, all to ourselves, one of the most special waves in surfing!”
“From the beginning of the fall surf season in Hawaii I'm always trying to surf the spots that resemble Pipe in hopes of being ready when the Pipe contest starts.” Said Alana Blanchard, two-time Pipeline Champion. “I was hoping that the Pipeline Pro would become at least a 4 star WQS event for next year so that more of the touring pros would come to it, which they would. I really think that with a few more years experience at Pipe the women could learn to surf it well enough to draw some big name sponsors in to put up the money to keep it going strong and maybe one day become a 6 star event.” A six star event has a $30,000.00 prize purse and enough points to make an impact on the world tour.
Everyone is invited to sound off on this issue directly to contest organizer Betty Depolito at email@example.com. “I am very concerned about the future of the Women’s Event at Pipeline because the rules are being redesigned and they appear to favor the big money events. The Women really need a giant company to support them in this endeavor. There are so many bright new faces surfing Pipeline and they deserve a spot out there. The new proposed rules are being devised now so get the letters flowing”, said Depolito.
There are plans for establishing another event for Women surfers at Sunset Beach in April of 2008. The event permits have not been approved as yet but Depolito is hopeful the permit will be approved. “ I expect the paperwork to come any day and I will be trying to secure
sponsors for the event at Sunset Beach in 2008 and for Pipeline in 2009.
Sunset Beach is a great place for Women’s surfing and I am hoping to have many more girls entered. We will make room for a big longboard event as well as shortboarding and hope to have both asp rated” said Depolito. “ In Hawaii we need more events to get our pros going, we have a huge base of great surfers to bring up and with the help of the community I hope to build up Women’s Surfing in Hawaii.”
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Photo Credit: Dario Belingheri/Bettini Photo