HONOLULU (KHON2) — Kelly Slater, considered the greatest surfer of all time, won his eighth title at Banzai Pipeline on Saturday, Feb. 5, exactly 30 years after he won his first title at the spot in 1992.
Unlike last winter, spectators were allowed to watch the Billabong Pro Pipeline in-person, and they witnessed history as Slater claimed victory just a few days shy of his 50th birthday.
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Hundreds, if not thousands, of people packed the beach early on Saturday morning to check out the World Surf League (WSL) men’s final.
Parking within a mile of Ehukai Beach Park was all taken well before the contest even began. Residents who live nearby were turning people away from their pay-to-park yards by 10 a.m.
Some people rode their bikes, others took the bus, and the spectators who arrived after 10 a.m. walked several miles to get to the contest.
“There’s no parking, it’s absolutely crazy out here,” said North Shore resident Lyndy Weyker.
“It’s definitely the most crowded I’ve seen the beach since living out here,” said North Shore resident Jacob Moss. “There’s nowhere to walk, there’s lines everywhere to go to the bathroom and to get on the walkways so it’s pretty insane.”
Nearby food trucks and vendors were extremely busy.
But everyone was in for a great final matchup between Hawaii’s own Seth Moniz and Kelly Slater.
Slater pulled off the win and the crowd went crazy when the WSL announcer screamed “Kelly Slater, four decades! He won in the 90s, he won in the 00s, he won in the 10s, now you won it in the 20s, eight-time Pipeline champion, unbelievable.”
Moniz also carried Slater from the water to the podium.
Despite all the traffic, many North Shore residents were happy to see the beach packed with people once again.
“It’s just unbelievable for me it shows like the next hope for the next chapter and it’s just exciting to see the businesses get that support as well as having our family together today,” said Weyker.
“I’m happy to see it, obviously I want everyone to stay safe and healthy but it’s nice to see things come back to life and getting back into the normal swing of things and people being able to enjoy events together,” Moss said.
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The Billabong Pro Pipeline women’s final will likely be called on for Sunday, Feb. 6. The holding period for the Pipeline contest ends on Feb. 10, and then the holding period for the Hurley Sunset Pro at Sunset Beach begins on Feb.11.