RED BULL JAWS, Paddle at Pe'ahi enters the final week of its holding period today, with the last day being next Friday, March 15.
Since December 7, 2012, the event's 21 Invitees have been ready to activate for this one-day big wave paddle-in event - the first of its kind to be held at Jaws, on Maui, Hawaii. However, an optimal day of surf with wave face heights in the specified range of 30 to 50 feet, out of the NNW with light winds, has not presented itself. There have been a handful of invaluable warm-up days for the surfers, but the required size and/or quality standards ultimately fell short thus far.
"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."
"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 RED BULL JAWS, Paddle at Pe'ahi has been priceless in its learnings, and in establishing solid working relationships with the local community, the City and County of Maui, and A&B Properties. Under the direction of Archie Kalepa, an unprecedented safety team has been put in place and has had the opportunity to run through critical procedures that will be vital when the event does run. The surfers have had one more winter to familiarize themselves with Pe'ahi, and with great anticipation join the RED BULL JAWS operations team in looking forward to the return of RED BULL JAWS, Paddle at Pe'ahi later in 2013.