"This scaffolding has been up for two weeks now and it's blocking my view," jokes the candid Reef McIntosh, who won Da Hui Backdoor Shootout last winter, "I can't check the surf from my couch. Now I have to get up and look from the deck."
McIntosh isn't that bummed about it. He goes so far as to joke that whoever's view the event structure blocks gets an added 0.5 points for every wave in the contest. But he's not thrilled that from January 5-16, there wasn't a legit eight-foot swell (his version of eight-foot might be a little different than yours or mine) to run the event.
Here's the thing about those on-call contests. When the right conditions come together, they're the best, most talked about events of the year. When the swell and wind don't meet the criteria, well, they just don't happen. Event director Eddie Rothman would simply never let that happen with Da Shootout.
This winter, the surf world has been waiting for those rare swells for the Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikua, the Mavericks Invitational, and the brand new Red Bull Jaws Paddle At Peahi. But the last two weeks specifically, we've been eyeballing the most famed stretch of beach in the world for Da Shootout, the annual "on call" invite only that gives some of the world's best barrel riders a shot at Pipe and Backdoor.
"It's not a normal event, so it doesn't have normal rules," adds McIntosh, who has slots in all three of the aforementioned Hawaiian events, "You don't have to run it. If it's not firing Pipe and Backdoor, it just doesn't happen."
As the defending champ, of course he's been eagerly hoping it would run. But to win this event in anything less than pumping waves take away from the cache of the title.
The entries are paid by the brands, each of which sponsors a each team of riders in the event. Each surfer gets an equal number of 45-minute heats to perform. The best four waves are tallied together for an overall champ and the best team.
"I want it to happen. Generally I surf well when the surf is good. And I really like surfing Pipe for 45 minutes with just three other guys," noted McIntosh. "There are couple people lurking around the North Shore that wouldn't usually be here in January because there are a few new teams this year, so that's cool."
McIntosh points to a big swell that arrived in the last days of December, but he was at Lake Tahoe.
"The snow was insane. I've never been in powder like that before," he stated.
Since then, the beach has not been shaking and the holding period closes on Wednesday.
"There's a little something on the horizon," he adds, "I have heard that if it's good, they might hold it the day after the waiting period. It's never come to that before, but you never know."