Red Bull Jaws, Paddle at Pe’ahi is in the last week of its holding period, with the March 15th closing date reaching quickly. The event’s 21 invitees have been waiting eagerly since December 7, 2012 for the inaugural one-day big wave paddle-in event at Jaws. The optimal conditions for this event would be surf with wave heights in the 30 to 50 feet range, out of the NNW with light winds. Despite conditions coming close, they have unfortunately always fallen short.
“The New Years Eve swell was for sure the closest we’ve come since the waiting period opened,” explains Jaws local and event Invitee Ian Walsh. “It was definitely a fun day but a touch inconsistent and a touch small for what the surfers and the spectators want to see. We’ve had a few swells right on the line, but not quite big enough.”
“This winter has been very mediocre,” Walsh added. “We’ve had a lot of really strong winds, a pretty decent amount of rain, but as far as waves go, very mediocre. We haven’t had too many really big days and the big days that have come have been with weather or difficult winds.”
At this time it does not look like the criteria will be met. However, Mark Sponsler, the official forecaster of the event, will keep his eye on developing systems through Friday.
“This winter has produced less large surf than hoped for,” says Sponsler. “The previous two winters have been dominated by the La Nina weather pattern, which tends to suppress storm development and drive the storm track well to the north, away from Hawaii. This year was anticipated being a neutral year, dominated by neither La Nina or it’s more stormy cousin El Nino. But it is now apparent residuals from 2 years of La Nina have not completely evaporated from the upper atmosphere with storm and swell production still somewhat hampered.
“The Red Bull Jaws, Paddle at Pe’ahi team devised a solid set of criteria early on to assess what constituted acceptable conditions worthy of calling an event,” added Sponsler. “We’ve actively monitored all weather systems during the contest window and to-date a contest worthy swell has not been missed. We’re at the mercy of forces way larger than ourselves.”
This first year of the event has established solid relationships with the local community, the city and County of Maui and A&B Properties. A safety team has had the opportunity to run through critical procedures under the direction of Archie Kalepa. The surfers have had another winter to familiarize themselves with Pe’ahi in anticipation to join the return of Red Bull Jaws, Paddle at Pe’ahi later in 2013.
To learn more about the contest check out their website at www.redbullusa.com/jaws.