Surfers need to be fast, strong and committed as they launch into a heavy, heavy wave at Banzai Pipeline. If you hesitate or if your timing is off, the wave will show you no mercy.
“It’s one of the most powerful waves on the planet,” Santa Ana surfer Courtney told Conlogue, speaking this week from Hawaii’s North Shore. “The pipeline is no joke. You have to take every surf seriously and stay focused. It definitely shows the power of nature there.
The world’s best surfers are gearing up for the Billabong Pro Pipeline, the first leg of the World Tour and a historic moment in women’s surfing.
Women’s professional surfing events have always been held in less powerful venues than men’s competitions, most years with fewer stops on the World Surf League organized tour and, until recent years, with far fewer of prizes to be won.
While the Santa Monica-based WSL a few years ago created equal prize money for both sexes – one of the few professional sports to do so – women will, for the first time, be surfing the same surf spots. exact on the same number of tour stops throughout the competition year.
“This year will be fun to show where we are and continue to grow,” Conlogue said.
The Billabong Pro Pipeline waiting period starts on Saturday 29th January and ends on 10th February, with the contest being held for the best day for the waves – organizers were eyeing Saturday as a possible start day with forecasts showing potential for swell solid.
Conlogue has been on the circuit for 11 years, since qualifying at 18. Now 29, she is one of the veterans who have seen the many changes over the years.
“I would aspire to be in those places,” she said. “Now we have waves of consequence and it’s going to be really cool to see where we are and how we’re going to rise in the years to come.”
But despite everything, whatever the wave or the conditions, each surfer must be the best that day to win.
“You have to put your head down and paddle as hard as you can to engage and just go all the way,” Conlogue said of the Pipeline surf. “It’s one of the most beautiful waves I’ve ever seen, but powerful at the same time.”
Equally exciting is the chance to have Pipeline without the crowds.
“It’s going to be really amazing to ride this wave with just two other women, or one other woman,” she said. “Having the opportunity to do this is really special.”
The World Tour contests at Pipeline have always been held as the last event of the competition year, but recent changes made by the WSL have made the contest the first stop. Previously, the tour usually started in Australia.
Although there have been a few exhibitions and qualifying series at Pipeline, and the women’s final was moved to be held there in 2020 after a shark attack where they were competing in Honolua Bay, this will be the first ever combined WSL masculine and feminine. World Tour event on the world famous wave.
Conlogue said she was also excited about the other two massive and challenging waves added to the women’s schedule this year, the Quiksilver Pro G-Land in Indonesia and the Tahiti Pro at Teahupoʻo.
“For me, I’m definitely working on elevating myself to each event and going into it with a fresh look and a new perspective, which will be very cool,” Conlogue said.
Caroline Marks, a surfer from Florida who now lives in San Clemente, is also preparing for the first event of the year.
“Obviously Pipeline is one of the scariest and most intense waves in the world,” the 19-year-old said. “I think we are all excited for the challenge. It should be awesome. All the girls adopted it and loaded it.
Marks said she hasn’t spent a lot of time at Pipeline, but is working with trainer Mike Parsons to refine the things that can make or break a ride, like how to get into the hollow wave, if ensuring she’s on the right gear and watching how the regulars approach the bombing break.
Marks, who was part of the first group to surf at the Olympics last year, thanked all the women who have led the way in this moment. Just this week, Joyce Hoffman, the first documented female surfer to load up Pipeline in the ’60s, was honored with a life-size bronze sculpture at Dana Point.
“It’s a heavy and dangerous wave. I think all the girls are so talented and excited to take on the challenge,” Marks said. “I’m excited to see how it’s going, the girls have charged, hopefully we can have some great waves and put in a great performance.”