Bus’ Out Those Rubbah Slippahs

Ron Mizutani
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Wednesday - March 03, 2010
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Bodysurfer Matt McCullen at Waimea

For anyone who grew up bodysurfing in the 1970s and ‘80s in Hawaii, you’ll probably understand why local residents are giggling on the North Shore these days.

It has to do with footwear, the ocean and sweet childhood memories.

News of the upcoming Da Hui Waimea Bay Shorebreak Shootout is sending residents back in time. It was a time when teenagers gathered at “Walls” in Waikiki, Sandy Beach, Waimea Bay or Pounders for a long day of bodysurfing and hanging out.

The rich kids owned handboards to help them catch waves. The rest of us “borrowed” plastic trays from McDonald’s. Those who couldn’t afford a hand-board or those who were afraid to walk out with a tray simply used their “slip-pahs” as their wave-riding tool. That’s right - flipflops, straight from the feet on to your hands and into the ocean.

“That’s old school,” laughs Mahina Chillingworth of the Hui o He’e Nalu. “I know a lot of people who bodysurfed with their slippahs on their hands while growing up. It was a tradition.”

The tradition is coming back in what promises to be a one-of-a-kind event at Waimea Bay. The inaugural Da Hui Waimea Bay Shorebreak is the first-known amateur bodysurfing event at Waimea Bay in more than 20 years. Chillingworth should know. She competed in what’s believed to be the last event in 1987.

“I was right out of high school, and I remember the North Shore lifeguards put it on - that was 23 years ago,” recalls the avid water-woman. “We wanted to bring back an amateur bodysurfing event at Waimea. We thought it was long overdue.”

The event is scheduled for March 6 and 7 or March 13 and 14, surf permitting. And because it’s an amateur event, organizers are not waiting for a monster north swell.

“This is for the average Joe or weekend warrior who never gets a chance to bodysurf in a competition on the North Shore because Pipeline is too big and there’s really nothing else,” says Chillingworth. “We don’t want it to be too gnarly, so we’re hoping to have it in 3-4 feet Hawaiian scale.”

One division is the “Kanaka Style Rubbah Slippah Handboard Division.” Competitors must use a rubber slipper on their hands in order to compete. It is sure to stir up old memories and trigger big laughs.

“No traditional man-made handboards will be allowed,” giggles Chillingworth. “It’s going to be hilarious because some of the old-timers can tear it up with their rubbah slippahs!”

North Shore regulars say Waimea Bay is primed for a shore-break event because the sandbar that washes in every winter is still there. The result will be nice tube rides with no reef bottom - a plus when you’re dealing with a punishing wave.

“We don’t want anyone getting hurt, so that’s why the Hawaiian Water Patrol will be out there,” says Chillingworth. “At the same time, we want those who may be ready to take the next step to compete against the elite at Pipeline the chance to feel the power of the North Shore.”

Event organizers expect well over 100 competitors to participate from all across the island, ranging in age from 17 and under up to their 60s.

“For $25 they get a day at Waimea Bay and a T-shirt,” she says. “Da Hui will contribute some of the proceeds to a Hawaiian organization. We’re praying for surf - not Eddie Aikau-size, but big enough to give the bodysurfers a good time.”

So bus’ out your rubbah slippahs, it’s time to step back in time. Word is Da Hui is considering adding a McDonald’s tray division next year. Now that would be classic!

Entry forms can be downloaded at www.dahui.com.


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