South Shore Wins Bragging Rights

Ron Mizutani
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Wednesday - November 02, 2011
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It was North Shore vs. South Shore at Sandy’s. Zak Noyle photo

It’s a debate and friendly rivalry that’s raged for as long as local surf competitions have existed. Where are the best surfers from, the North or South shore?

Three years ago, Red Bull officials in Hawaii came up with a marvelous idea to settle the argument once and for all in the ocean. The concept was simple: a surf contest featuring some of the best surfers from the North and South shores at a neutral break. Up for grabs: bragging rights on the beach!

“We thought Sandy Beach (on Oahu’s southeast shore) was neutral territory,” says Robert Mora, Red Bull Hawaii marketing manager. “And because the Red Bull Rivals is a one-day event, we needed a break that would deliver waves. Sandy’s is one of the few locations where there’s always surf.”

The South Shore won the overall title two years in a row, but in 2011 North Shore wave riders were looking to end the skid. Once again, team members were voted in by the public with a monthlong online voting campaign.

“We used social media to help select competitors,” says Mora. “Surfers were able to use their own social network sites like Facebook and Twitter to promote themselves. Ten pros, one grommet (young surfer) and one girl were chosen for each squad.”

More than 1,000 people gathered at Sandy Beach Oct. 22. For the third consecutive year, Mother Nature did not deliver ideal surf, but the waves were good enough for the South Shore team again. Town surfers made it three in a row over country surfers, and Isaiah Moniz was named the event’s MVP.

“I feel good,” says 17year-old Moniz, son of legendary professional surfer Tony Moniz. “There’s a bunch of good surfers, and I’m psyched. We’ve got a stacked team, and it just goes our way every time.”

The three-judge panel rewarded riders in the manon-man heats for high-performance surfing in the windy 1to 2-foot surf. Spectators were treated to a brilliant display of aerial surfing. In the end, town surfers prevailed over the country with 12 heat victories to eight.

“Just a lot of luck, to be honest,” says South Shore team captain Jun Jo.

“Everyone is really good. It’s the best of Hawaii from the North and South shores, so (the town team) just got better waves and a bit of luck with guys falling.”

But bragging rights weren’t the only items up for grabs. The losers also gave up the surfboards used in the competition. Jun Jo says the South Shore’s third consecutive win was an awesome experience, and the victors’ spoils were donated to a good cause.

“What we’re going to do is give it (the surfboards) to the Surfrider Foundation to auction off,” says Jun Jo. “Surfrider Foundation is an integral part of the surf community. They protect us from environmental, political and social problems.”

Although North Shore team captain Jamie O’ Brien would have preferred bigger waves, he still found the surf at Sandy Beach ideal for above-the-lip maneuvers. Despite an overall team loss, O’Brien beat Sandy Beach local Kekoa Cazimero in their one-onone match up.

“I got him good,” says O’Brien. “I thought it was funny that he picked me to surf against. It was cool, though. He surfs good out there, so it keeps me on my toes.”

Event organizers are already planning the next event, and North Shore surfers may get what they’ve long been requesting.

“Next year we’re taking a break from Sandy’s and we want to move the event to the North Shore,” says Mora. “We’re looking for a time window and targeting Haleiwa’s Ali’i Beach Park.”

Now if we can just figure out how to get the West side involved, because there are a few surfers at Makaha Beach and other breaks on the West Shore who are champing at the bit to join in on the fun and the debate.

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