The monster surf has long lured spectators to Hawaiʻi in the winter months. It’s not unusual for traffic to crawl along Kamehameha Highway on Oʻahu’s North Shore, as people craned their necks to watch the huge waves roll in. The Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational—arguably the most anticipated surf meet in the Islands—attracts thousands of people to Waimea Bay, with folks often sleeping in their cars just to get first dibs on the best seats on the beach.
But COVID-19 has changed all that. Crowds are discouraged—in fact, not allowed on Oʻahu, according to the city’s current reopening strategy—and travel isn’t as easy or as safe as it used to be.
But the World Surf League, which oversees international tours and competitions and crowns the men’s and women’s world champions, has figured out a way to hold its prestigious surf competitions in the Islands this December that’s both safe for athletes and fans and now accessible to everyone.
The Hawaiʻi legs of the 2021 Championship Tour—the Maui Pro presented by Roxy and the Billabong Pipe Masters presented by Hydro Flask—will be broadcast-only productions that will be streamed live on WorldSurfLeague.com and broadcast locally by the Spectrum SURF Channel. The league is also adding a new event—the Sunset Open—to its lineup.
Usually, the WSL seasons ends in Hawaiʻi. Starting in December, the Islands will kick off the 2021 season. For the women, it starts with Maui Pro presented by Roxy at Honolua Bay from Dec. 4 to 15. For the men, the Billabong Pipe Masters presented by Hydro Flask on Oʻahu’s North Shore runs from Dec. 8 to 20, 2020. (It’s also the 50th annivesary of this event.)
All of these competitions will be no-spectator, broadcast-only events. Meaning no one will be allowed to sit on the beach to watch these pro surfers compete.
In addition, the WSL put together a comprehensive COVID safety plan: mandatory COVID testing for all athletes and staff, physical distancing, daily temperature checks and mandatory mask wearing.
So if you can’t be in the Islands this winter to witness these surfers compete in world-class surf, you can experience it from the comfort of your home.
“Hawaiʻi is such a big part of surfing history and culture and there is no better place to start a season and end a challenging year on a positive note,” said Hawaiʻi-born reigning WSL champion Carissa Moore in a release. “We are so grateful for your support and good vibes from home this year in order to keep everyone safe.”