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Hawaii Will Not Host Pipe Masters in 2019

With the city of Honolulu unrelenting on their permitting rules, The Billabong Pipe Masters competition will be forced to find a new venue for their 2019 competition. WSL / Laurent Masurel

On Thursday the World Surf League (WSL) confirmed the fate of one their hallmark events: Billabong Pipe Masters will not be returning to Oahu for 2019.

According to their website, the event was officially denied a permit by the city of Honolulu. 

As we previously reported, the whole ordeal began when the WSL attempted to swap the dates of Pipe Masters with the Volcom Pipe Pro.  

What was originally thought to be a simple change, has  grown into a tense public battle between WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt and Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

Undeterred by Goldschmidt’s best efforts, Caldwell remained adamant on the city’s decision to deny the date change permit to Pipe Masters. According to Pacific Business Journal, the North Shore received 26 applications for different surfing events in the 2018-2019 season, 23 of which were in direct conflict with each other.

“They’re two very different events,” Caldwell argued in a press conference defending the city’s decision. “The Pipeline Masters is 8,000 people, the Volcom Pipe [Pro] is 15,00 folks, so the impacts are dramatic. Now everyone else for that slot was addressing major impacts. So it’s not fair to the other applicants who were preparing for dramatic impacts.”

Despite the controversy, the 2018 Billabong Pipe Masters competition will still be held in Hawaii, however, the location for the 2019 event has yet to be determined.

“We are disappointed we will not be able to run the 2019 Billabong Pipe Masters,” WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt said in a press release. “However, we are pleased that the Mayor recognizes that fundamental changes are required to the permit process that will benefit Hawaiian surfing, the surfers, the community and other stakeholders. We will assist however we can during this process and once we understand the changes, we will be able to determine which events we can invest in bringing to Hawaii in winter 2019 and beyond.”

In response to the drama and to avoid future disputes of this magnitude, Caldwell has decided to overhaul the permitting process by creating a new surfing advisory committee, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Explaining in a press release that, “basically taking the rules, rip ’em up, throw ’em away and start again.”

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