Ian Walsh has helped bring a big-wave surfing competition to his home break.
Walsh, of Haiku, played a large role in organizing the inaugural Red Bull Jaws Paddle at Peahi, which will have a holding period from Friday to March 15. The one-day competition will run when wave heights are 30 to 50 feet.
If held, the event will be broadcast in June on NBC as part of the network's Red Bull Signature Series.
Ian Walsh of Haiku, shown at the Billabong Pipeline Masters In Memory of Andy Irons last month on Oahu, has helped create the Red Bull Jaws Paddle at Peahi big-wave surfing competition.
ASSOCIATION OF SURFING PROFESSIONALS / Kelly Cestari photo
"For me, I want to be able to give the viewer, or a surfer or someone in the middle of the United States a really good look at exactly what is happening out there," Walsh said. "To me, it's the 'Greatest Show on Earth,' and entertaining to watch."
The Red Bull Jaws Paddle at Peahi and the Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau, held at Waimea Bay on Oahu's North Shore, have overlapping holding periods. The Eddie's started Sunday and runs through Feb. 28. The one-day event, which started in 1984, is held when wave heights reach 20 feet.
According to Walsh, the directors of both events are in communication with each other. If conditions are right on the same day at both Waimea Bay and Jaws, The Eddie will take precedence.
"The Eddie is the most prestigious event in surfing," Walsh said.
Walsh is among 21 participants in the Red Bull Jaws Paddle at Peahi, with 16 of them also competing in The Eddie.
He added a conflict may not arise since conditions might be ideal at one site and not the other.
Walsh said Red Bull, which has sponsored him for nearly a decade, was on board from the start with having a big-wave competition at Jaws.
"I think it's cool for the Maui surf fans," Walsh said. "It's cool that they don't have to fight to be on Oahu. The guys will put on a good show for them."
Walsh grew up surfing at Jaws, so he knows the conditions will be dangerous.
"It's an intense wave. As a surfer it's something that's unique," he said. "You take all the facets of all the small waves in the world and turn it into a 50-foot wave. It has a long wall and you can go left or right. It's one of the most violent and intense places to be held under(water). When you fall, it's worse than the worst car accident of your life."
As far as there being 30- to 50-foot waves at Jaws, Walsh said: "There's an extremely high possibility. There are usually two or three swells in that range during the winter."
There will be three seven-man heats and each surfer will compete in two rounds at the Red Bull Jaws Paddle at Peahi. The three best waves for each surfer, regardless of the round, will be counted with the top score tripled.
Walsh said the judges will be legendary big-wave surfers, including Haiku's Matt Kinoshita, a long-time surfer at Jaws who coached Walsh and other Maui surfers.
"It is my home. I don't feel as comfortable anywhere in the world," Walsh said of Jaws. "I feel a sense of comfort here. I will be sleeping in my home bed."
Speaking of his home, which is about 10 minutes from Jaws, Walsh said he likely will have a bunch of competitors over when favorable swells are predicted for Jaws.
"My house will be loaded with these guys," Walsh said. "All my bedrooms and futons will be taken."
* Kyle Sakamoto is at firstname.lastname@example.org