The North Shore Experience

The North Shore experience is a hard one to do justice on the printed page. Spending time in this place involves all the senses and more than a couple emotions. From fear to boredom, the seven-mile stretch from Hale'iwa to Turtle Bay represents something different for each surfer who comes in contact with it. In this tropical country setting where life moves at half speed, near-death experiences are breakfast conversation. Even though people drive ten miles per hour under the speed limit, gossip moves at the speed of light here, and if you're caught speaking out of place, you better be prepared to defend yourself. The three Rs of Hawai'i are Respect, Respect, and Respect, and the reasons for this are hard to sum up on a flat, odorless, silent page.

Surf mags have been making “Hawai'i issues” for decades, and this year, surf-magazine editors have been overheard discussing the amount of coverage Hawai'i deserves. Most of them seem to think Hawai'i's been way overdone and that there're no original angles left. But they don't know what the hell they're talking about. A 24-year-old Hawai'ian just became the world champ and won the Triple Crown. There're rumors that if someone blows a whistle at you while you're surfing Pipe, you're about to get your ass kicked. And apparently, some young European girl with lots of curves does impromptu strip shows at one of the team houses down at Off The Wall every night. Not to mention that on any given day a hundred of the world's best surfers are staying within two miles of your house. It's surf-mag-editor paradise, and to even bring up the concept of what Hawai'i does or doesn't “deserve” is bullshit.

To surfing, Hale'iwa is Mecca, New York City, Cairo, Hollywood, Bethlehem, Paris, and Atlantis rolled into one. As clichéd as it is to restate, Hawai'i is surfing's capital, and that's why we went. This winter we sent a dozen photographers and half as many editors to the North Shore in an attempt to capture moments we hope might convey some of what it's like to spend time in this place. And to show it the respect it deserves, we dedicated every page of editorial in this issue to it.

Finally, a quick note of congratulations from our staff to Andy Irons, the new world champ. Can anyone smell a dynasty beginning?–Joel Patterson