North Shore locals sue ASP-Hawaii over "multiple permit breaches"…
I’m watching Pipe, you probably are too. And it’s great. Dudes are ripping, my Fantasy Surfer team is doing well (despite Melling Slater-ing Slater in Round One), but there’s a problem…
If you’re a fan of pro surfing you might be familiar with how, in previous years, the early rounds of the Pipe Masters were run concurrently; meaning two heats overlapping in the water, priority going to the first heat.
And that’s cool, the point was to ensure that minimal days on the North Shore were privatized and that the poor souls who dealt with the insane cost of living and low wages in Hawaii actually got to benefit from the the aloha tax reality of life in the islands.
Something strange is going on this year. Despite regulations that are clearly stated:
(d) Except with special permission from the Director and as noted on the permit, surf meets may not be held for more than four days. No heats shall be structured with less than four surfers, and man-on-man or one-on-one heats shall not be allowed (includes trials).
…the first round was run with only three guys in the water at a time. Now, government wording is always confusing so I’ll distill the essence. Four guys in the water, no exceptions. You might be able to hold a contest for more than four days, with special permission. But in no case can you run heats with less than four people. That period is important. Shit, even the overlapping heat format violates the letter of the law (though it, admittedly, conforms to the spirit.)
Yeah, but it’s no big deal, right? Except is is, read a little further and there’s this brilliant little sentence:
(17) Any permittee who knowingly and wilfully violates these rules and regulations shall not be allowed to apply for another permit for a one-year period.
At 15:30 in the Pupo/Monteiro heat, Peter Mel said, “The North Shore community has decided they have to have four surfers in the water and this is the way to keep it that way.” Sounds like “knowingly and wilfully violates these rules and regulations” to me.
The former tour surfer Pancho Sullivan is part of a coalition of residents who’ve taken it upon ’emselves to get ASP Hawaii to conform to the letter of their permits. And six weeks ago, they took ’em to court.
“The court case was to ensure that the rules are upheld, to get a temporary restraining order or injunction against the Pipeline Masters,” says Pancho. “That wasn’t the desired outcome but we were hoping that the ASP would adjust the format to make it work with a four-man priority system. They came in with economic statements they had some kid at NYU come up with waving around all the money they generate instead of, I guess, finding a way to adhere to the rules.”
Pancho emphasises that they weren’t trying to shut down the event but they did want an unambiguous ruling that states that you cannot knowingly break rules designed to protect local residents.
“We wanted the Triple Crown and the ASP to recognise that this is a community and it’s questionable how much money stays on the North Shore. Most of the team houses are owned by people who don’t live on the North Shore and most of the winnings go back to other parts of the world.”
What does this mean? No Pipe Masters next year? The WSL doesn’t need to follow the law in Hawaii? The “economic benefits” outweigh the cost to local residents so much that the City and County of Honolulu doesn’t feel it’s necessary to enforce their own laws?
I don’t know. According to the regulations currently available online, the law is being broken.
Pancho and his coalition aren’t anarchists. They don’t want to smash the system. But on a stretch of magical coastline that breaks for roughly five or six months of the year, and when most weekends have some kind of contest running, whether it’s surfing, bodysurfing or bodyboarding, there comes a point when it doesn’t feel so groovy any more.
“I live on both sides of the issue,” says Pancho. “I’ve been a competitor, I’ve been in a position where those events helped support me financially. But at the core of my belief system, this issue is bigger than just me. There’s a whole group of people who don’t benefit at all. They live out here because they love the beauty of the coastline, they love to surf and they want to have access to it. People tolerate it but not everyone’s thrilled about what goes on. If (the contests) become a platform for these multi-million dollar corporations to benefit and use the resources and the people don’t see a direct positive impact, then obviously some rules are good to have in place.”
When I emailed Dave Prodan, ASP VP of communications, he replied with: “All ASP events are conducted in compliance with state and local regulations with the appropriate permits obtained, which includes all events in Hawaii and on the North Shore.For reference, we’ve been running man-on-man heats at Pipe consecutively since 2008. ”