"There's no consequences because it's so diluted. The local people don't have that…clout… that they had before."
Although if you did swing into the sport late, and who didn’t I suppose, the following story, from the old Chas Smith book Welcome to Paradise, Now Go to Hell, where Fast Eddie slaps everyone at the Billabong House might be instructive.
He had left his compound at Backyards, a famously localized surf spot, after the sun set and drove south on O’opuola street before turning east on the Kamehameha highway, gripping his steering wheel with scarred knuckles.
He passed Ted’s Bakery, known for its plate lunches, its cream pies, and its impossibly slow service. He passed the only Chevron for miles, run by a family of transgendered Samoans who flirt freely when handing over packs of cigarettes or change. They are each over six feet tall, two hundred pounds, with the daintiest touches of eye shadow and blush.
He passed the rotting fruit stand selling fresh passion fruit and pineapple, Ehukai Beach Park and its just erected “Billabong Presents the Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons” scaffolding, set up for the contest that would run the next day.
He passed sunset Beach Elementary school and then he abruptly turned right, without signaling, onto Ke Nui Road.Ke Nui is the size of a small alley and runs parallel to the Kamehameha for a rough mile. Banyans and palms hover over it like a frescoed ceiling.
There are no streetlights. Night can feel thick on Ke Nui. Dense. Eddie drove over the speed bumps without slowing and then slammed to a stop at its end. Directly in front of the Billabong house.
He got out of his car, went through the wooden gate and up the rock stairs and straight inside without ringing the doorbell and without the customary removal of slippahs.
Inside the house he paused briefly, glancing around, before walking up to Graham Stapelberg and fixing him in his dull gaze. Looking through him. Before reaching a scarred knuckled hand through time and space and grabbing his throat. The surfers and executives, those who had not yet left for Surfer Poll, froze. The horror. This horror.
And Eddie reached his other hand back, back, back, and then, as if it was a slingshot, launched it forward. It smashed into Graham’s cheek with a painful thud. Eddie kept slapping him and then dumped him in a pile and went on a tear through the house.
I have very fond memories of being welcomed into the Rothman compound on one of my early forays to the North Shore, meeting little Makua and baby Koa, and being granted an audience with Fast Eddie himself, of whom I wrote many complimentary things.
And deservedly so.
Anyway, during the Vans broadcast, Fast Eddie lit up with his classically ominous humour when it came to regulating, as they like to say over there.
After saying there was no way in hell the Backdoor Shootout would’ve run in those conditions (“We want it big, we want it gnarly, we want it Pipe,” said Fast Eddie) he described Pipeline in 2023 as a “shitshow.”
“There’s two hundred people out there sometimes. (Mimicking foreign accent) ‘I’m at the Pipelinnee, I love the Pipelinnee.’ You don’t even know what the bottom looks like. You’re gonna surf it, I’m here I’m gonna charge it. The respect for the local people has gone. You don’t come to other countries like, say, Brazil, paddle out at their break and start catching all their waves. You’ll get your ass beat. But over here it’s changed now. There’s no consequences because it’s so diluted. The local people don’t have that…clout… that they had before.”
Fast Eddie added, “We kept it a lot safer. Send ’em in… what’s the big deal. We used to that from V-land all the way down the coast.”
“Community regulation is a good thing,” said Makua.
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