Every year, during the early winter, the surfing world plants itself on the North Shore of O’ahu in Hawai’i for a scene many surf industry marketers and team managers feel is important to be a part of. To do it, companies will rent out houses right on the beach at some of the worldà'¹s most famous breaks such as Pipeline, Sunset Beach, and Rocky Point.
Although the water gets extremely crowded, locals get angry, and cars get broken into, December on the North Shore has become a tradional exodus for the industry.
Is it worth it? A lot of marketing and team managers seem to think so. At the risk of a good party or team riders wrecking a house, having a place for employees and surfers to stay makes the winter season a whole lot easier. For a lot of companies ità'¹s simply headquarters.
“It plays an important role in showing support for individual teams and riders,” says Arnette Marketing Director Gary Siskar. “It’s like having a box at the Superbowl.”
Siskar says Arnette has been renting houses for five years with two of the most recent years at the media-frenzied Rocky Point. Siskar says they’ll use the house and the time to mix with the media, finish up team contracts for next year, and essentially give riders a place to relax.
Normally rented for three weeks, this year the company decided to share it with Nixon watches and rent it for two weeks at a price of 2,900 dollars. “The house is not only a good headquarters, but a place to get away and relax,” says Siskar.
Dave Haggett, team manager for O’Neill, says having their two houses at Sunset Beach and Kammieland serves a lot of importance. By being involved and on the scene, team mangers like Haggett help riders not only get editorial coverage, but assess their skills in the world’s most dynamic surf arena.
At around 10,000 dollars a month, the company gets more out of Nortyh Shore real estate investment. “It allows employees and licensees to get a taste of what the North Shore scene is about if they don’t already have the feeling,” says Haggett. Licensees also get the chance watch their investments in international team riders such as Shane Beschen.
Gary Dunn, Rip Curl’s national team manager for Australia, says they aim to provide the team riders with good accomodations on the North Shore.”They’re away from home and they’re mostly young guys. If we can make them comfortable it makes them keener to surf and more willing to hang out here for a longer period of time, which is also to their benefit.”
Rip Curl has had a house at Off The Wall (near Pipeline) for three years. To get it they checked with local real estate agents and told them the company would be paying so there would be no concerns with the place getting trashed.
“The guys are pretty good,” says Dunn. “They’re young guys so they make a bit of a mess, but for the most part they’ve traveled a fair bit so they know if they leave a mess lying around they’re gonna be living in it.
“Creating a good, comfortable, secure environment for them means they don’t have to worry if their boards are gonna be there when they come in or whatever,” continues Dunn. “It removes those things from their thinking and allows them to surf and that’s what they’re here to do. That’s what we want them doingà'†¹going out surfing as much as possible.”
At Off The Wall, the Rip Curl house is directly in the hub of North Shore action. “It’s such a help for us to have a beachfront base for photography, for getting video footage, for the guys just to be able to get up in the mornings, look out the window and see Backdoor, Off-The-Wall, or Pipe is on and get out there,” says Dunn.
This year Rip Curl also had a house at Sunset during the Rip Curl Cup for the two team mangers to work on the media and provide international news feeds about their event. The Sunset house was 200 dollars per night with accomodations for three, whille the Off The Wall house was 10,000 dollars a month and can accomodate twelve people comfortably. “We consider that money well spent,” says Dunn.
“Basically what we wanted to do was have a place where different guys from Australia, Japan, Hawai’i, California, and Europe could come and have a place to stay,” says Ricky Iaconetti, team manager for Billabong Hawaià'Å'i. “So they could have that much stress relieved from their trip here to Hawaià'Å'i, because if you can take away a lot of that basic stress then they can concentrate more on surfing.
According to Iaconetti the price of any house varies due to the location. “There are some houses that are more expensive than others. You can spend anywhere from 3,000 to 15,000 dollars a month.”
His advice is to simply contact one of the real-estate agents who’s based in Hawai’i. And with the North Shore being such a small stretch of castline, Iaconetti says the best houses fill up fast. “You really need to do it well in advance,” he says.
As for the sketchy and violent stories the North Shore is famous for, Iaconetti says team managers really shouldn’t worry. “All that kind of stuff that’s been propagated about Hawai’i in the past is a mute point right now. To be perfectly honest, you act the same way you would act anywhere you were traveling.”