I’ve been invited to the Vans Pipe Masters this winter and I’m STOKED!!
As I train and prep for the upcoming contest (Dec. 8 – 20th), I’ve been reflecting on my experience with this insane wave and my thoughts about competing on it!
If you haven’t heard of Pipe before, I’ll give you a little bit of context. Pipe is located on the North Shore of Oahu and is one of the most sought-after and dangerous waves in the world.
Massive waves (usually 10-20 ft) break onto a reef that is only about 3 feet underwater. This makes wipeouts super scary and so gnarly! (Check out my other blog on Pipe here.) However, the feeling of catching some of the best barrels of your life is totally worth the risk!
I first surfed Pipeline when I was about 12 years old and I surf it a couple times each year now. I did win an event there once a few years back – the Surf-n-Sea Women’s Pipe Pro! While the waves were a ton of fun that day, they were only about 3-4 feet so it wasn’t like proper Pipe. It felt really good to win, but it didn’t feel like I won an event at Pipeline, so to say.
The heaviest conditions that I’ve ever surfed Pipe was last winter. It was just so incredibly intimidating and scary. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to do it, but wanted to do it so badly at the same time! I caught some great waves, but I also just got totally obliterated out there whenever I took a wipeout. It was pretty brutal! Pipeline is such a unique combo of humbling and inspiring at the same time.
My biggest fear about surfing Pipe is not succeeding.
Of course, I’m scared of the wave and scared of hitting the bottom. But I never want my fears or my doubts to hold me back from doing something that I think I can do. I tend to be pretty hard on myself and I don’t really think about my arm. I typically think, “ok, what do I want to do and how am I going to get there?” And then I work really hard to get there, no matter what the obstacle is.
I train pretty hard for contests like this, however being a mom of 3 boys has definitely taught me a lot. I push hard, but really have to slow down at times when my body needs less.
I’m going into the Vans Pipe Masters with the goal to win, however I’m also just hoping to have some epic rides and perform well. The format of the event is very different this year than it has been in the past. There’s no priority, so that means that there are probably going to be tons of intense paddle battles for waves. I’m actually not a big fan of the fact that there is no priority and I’m honestly a little mad about that. However, I’ll be working really hard to flip my mindset so I can go charge out there!
Another difference with this year’s format is that we have 3, 30-minute preliminary heats before advancing. Pipe is such a tricky wave so it’s not uncommon to have a really bad heat out there and not even get a score during the entire 30 minutes. It always is a bummer when you get a rough heat, but I think the new 3-heat system will help even the playing field. Hopefully you’ll get a score in at least a couple of those heats. I think this allows for the best surfers to really shine. I’m excited about it!
Sometimes the hardest part for me about competing is hearing the commentators while I’m surfing.
It’s funny, I know! But commentators can be pretty annoying to me because they usually just say the same old thing over and over again. If they could just acknowledge my surfing even like 25% of the time, that would be nice! I’m ok if they want to mention Soul Surfer, but I don’t think they should be talking about the shark attack in the middle of my heat. I’ve had numerous loudspeaker people people doing that over and over again.
I’ve learned to shut out the voices as much as possible in my mind when I’m out in the water. I just really focus on just surfing the best I can and having fun – not what the loudspeakers are saying about me.
The Vans Team recently came out to Kauai to interview me about my thoughts about competing at Pipe. The video turned out pretty cool! Check it out:
I’m looking forward to the contest with excitement, anticipation and a little bit of nervousness! It’s going to be awesome to see everyone ripping at Pipe and I’m so pumped that I have the opportunity to compete!
I’d love it if you cheer me on! You can watch the event live and get updates here! The waiting period starts on Dec. 8th!