HONOLULU (KHON2) — A high surf warning is in effect for most of the state’s north and west facing shores through Monday evening. Surf heights are expected to reach 30 feet on north-facing shores and 20-feet on west-facing shores.
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The swell will drop on Tuesday leading to highly favorable conditions for the Billabong Pipe Masters to run on Oahu’s North Shore.
“The forecast is looking really good for Tuesday, Dec. 8, that’s day one of the waiting period,” explained World Surf League Hawaii Tour Manager Marty Thomas. “I’m not going to make any promises or any predictions, but given the Surf line forecast, it looks like it’s going to be eight to 10, maybe even 12-feet. So, we’re looking like a possible, more than likely start on Tuesday, but we’ll make that call Tuesday morning around 7 a.m.”
If the green light is given, the Pipe Trials, which allows two local surfers into the main event, will take place on Tuesday morning. Pipe Masters will be held for a three-day period after that.
In previous years, thousands of people would pack the beach from the surf breaks “Pupukea” to “Off the Wall” to watch the best surfers compete in the contest.
But like many things in 2020, this year will be much different.
“The Pipe Masters this year is under a filming permit, so there will be a closed off area where spectators are not allowed,” explained Thomas. He explains the area will be blocked off from the lifeguard tower at ‘Ehukai to the surf break referred to as “Off the Wall.”
“You’ll be able to traverse the beach but there won’t be any stopping on the beach so it’s going to be hard to get a good seat,” explained WSL CEO Erik Logan. “The best seat in the house is going to be right in front of your screen and it’s going to be the safest as well.”
Security will be informing people to keep walking and moving and not to congregate on the sand.
The World Surf League is encouraging people to stay home because there won’t be much to see if you try to watch the contest in person.
WSL said there will be no merchandise or vendor sales and there won’t be any food trucks either at ‘Ehukai Beach Park.
WSL announcers won’t be able to be heard from ‘Ehukai Beach Park or the beaches nearby.
“There’s only going to be one speaker on the beach and that’s primarily for the surfers to give them the information they need in the water, so there’s not going to be a lot of commentary as we have normally at our events,” explained Thomas.
The WSL has implemented strict safety measures too.
“We test all the athletes, all the plus ones, and all the crew before they enter a WSL zone and in that zone is where you have to have social distance, we have to be masked and tested,” Logan explained. “In addition to that, the athletes that are competing, we will test them before the days of competition as well so we have a pretty rigorous testing protocol.
For anyone to enter the zone, they’ll need a QR code which shows where you’ve been, how many times you’ve been tested, and your negative test result.
“When you get into the zone, there’s hand washing stations, sanitation stations everywhere and we are moving the athletes in and out of a few houses so there isn’t a lot of congregating and even in the team houses those teams have been tested as well and we have the hand washing and sanitation stations there too,” Logan said.
The WSL plans on doing the same for a special mens and womens championship event at Sunset Beach in January, the Volcom Pipe Pro, and if permits are approved, the Big Wave event at Pe’ahi on Maui.
The holding period for the Billabong Pipe Masters is through Dec. 20.