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T&C Women’s Pipe – Contest Story
Lilly Pollard, 28/03/06

I screamed, “Quick girls! It’s A SHARK!”
My worst nightmare became reality when an 8ft shark charged Aoi Koike during the final of the T&C Women’s Pipeline Pro in Hawaii.

Thankfully, it turned away at the last second, coming within a few feet of Aoi, and scaring us all half to death. With visions in my head of the shark tearing my leg off, I started paddling my guts out into shore and encouraged the other girls to do the same.Mandy Zieren, Aoi Koike and Moe Watanabe followed me in, but with no sign of the contest stopping, the lure of winning a Pipe title was all too strong for the 3 girls, when they all turned around and went back out.

I couldn’t believe it! There was no way I was going back out, even though I hadn’t yet caught a wave. I sat undecisively in the shorey, wondering what to do… Should I stay or should I surf? I was pissed because the contest hadn’t been stopped, I waved my arms around, yelling “Shark” to the spectators on the beach. One photographer even said “Hey! Get back out there!” “NO, YOU get out there!!!” I screamed back.

Meanwhile, Mandy caught 2 good waves, and Aoi had one awesome ride -a spin off the top, then a spin in the pocket, then a roll, on a backdoor wave.. 16 year old Moe had been ripping all contest, but she was so scared out there. I saw her nervously paddle for a wave, then a photographer popped up beside her and she screamed! I laughed, but felt sorry for her. Suddenly, close by, I saw the shark again, this time thrashing wildly about in the shorey, I could see it’s big brown torso and fins.

Finally, everyone on the beach saw it and raced to the water’s edge with their cameras in excitement. Some people said they saw two sharks fighting in the shore….. (Who knows how many there were, I’m sure as the story gets re-told, the number of sharks will grow to 3 or 4 and the sharks will grow to 20 ft long!….)

The contest was stopped and the girls scrambled in to safety on the sand. It was 4pm on the 14th of March. The last day of the 2 week waiting period to hold the T&C Pipeline Pro. We didn’t have many options, we were running out of time to finish the final. Jetskis were sent out to scare the sharks away.

After waiting a few minutes, one organiser told us that the jetskis have “probably” scared off the sharks, so if we like, we could wait ten minutes then go back out. Relief struck when a man from water patrol told us we could not go back in the water. By law, when sharks are sighted, they have to close the beach for 2 hours.

We had no choice but to cancel the contest and split the prizemoney. We were all happy with the decision. It was a little disappointing to end the event that way, because, in spite of the conditions, we were all so amped to win. The cool thing was that we all got to say we placed equal first at Pipe!

The water was murky and at one stage it turned onshore, but it was still better than most contests we’ve surfed the past year. The waves ranged from 2 to 5ft. Everyone in the contest had surfed so well. Aoi, a former Pipe champion, always surfs strong out there, busting out with big rolls and ARS’s, and this was Mandy’s second Pipe final.

The competitors came from everywhere -Hawaii, Japan, Australia, Brazil, America, Portugal, Peru, Venezuela, and Chile, and all the girls were ripping! It was great to be a part of it. In earlier rounds the standouts included Claudia Ferrari, Chigusa Nishyama, Catarina Souza, and Chiaki Okuyama.

There was a big sand bar at Pipe and there had been nothing but a few small NE swells during the waiting period. It rained for the whole month I was there, and flooded various parts of the state. During that time, all the filth from the farms, all the stagnant water, all the overflowing septic tanks, and all the bacteria from the mountains had been washed down into the surf. The water was brown and beaches on the east side were closed due to the contamination from all sorts of bacteria and diseases, including staph and hepatitis. After I noticed a dirty chicken carcass washed up on the beach I stayed out of the water for four days. It was a week before the contest.

With all the sand built up and the rain at Pipe, a large pool formed in front of the Off The Wall to Eukai stretch. It was aptly named the polio pool. Over the month, we watched it slowly turn from clear blue, to dark green to poo brown. Australia’s Sylve Colless went swimming in the dirty water at Sunset Beach, and actually ended up in hospital with blood poisoning. (She’s all better now).

Brad (my boyfriend), Emma Roby, and I went down to V-Land to surf one day, and found ourselves looking at chocolate barrels! It actually looked pretty inviting (because we imaged it to taste like the rive r on Charlie and the Chocolate factory!), but just as we were about to go out, the 3 surfers out there came racing in. There was a shark.

Maybe it was an omen for the contest? Who knows? But there were two shark attacks on Maui just before the event, and heaps of shark sightings on the North Shore.

I think we were all pretty lucky not to become a tasty shark biscuit in the final. I think we’ve also proven that bodyboarders really are shark biscuits! The surfers’ final was held just before ours and there were no sharks to be seen then!

Anyway, it was pretty cool sharing the contest with the shortboard and longboard girls, everyone seemed to be getting along really well. I think watching each other surf made us appreciate each other’s sports a little more. Nicola Atherton, the winner of the shortboard division, was a prime example of how good the girl surfers are, doing some really vertical turns (scoring a 10 in an early heat). Nicola was also very supportive of the bodyboarders, watching our heats and cheering us on.

Overall, it was a pretty successful contest! And even though the whole month it rained, there was still lots of fun to be had.

We scored plenty of fun free-surfing sessions at V-Land, Rocky Point and Backyards, and did the usual Hawaii thing of going to the movies at Mililani, playing tennis, finding a seal on the beach, and eating that sweet, sweet american ice cream! Yum! Oh and of course, there was the after party. But that is another story…..

See ya’ll next year!

Lilly Pollard

Spcial thanks to Betty Depolito for running the contest so smoothly!
And to the sponsors T&C and Tony Volkswagon.