The Problem with Pipe
The Banzai Pipeline, located on the North Shore of Oahu, is considered by many to be the best wave in the world. It hosts multiple contests annually, including the Billabong Pro Pipe which pits the best surfers in the world against each other in a competition each January. Some surfers have made a career by simply mastering this wave, such as Jamie O’Brien and John John Florence, while others have clinched world titles at this location, such as Kelly Slater and Italo Ferreira. However, despite the massive conditions and global attention that this reef break attracts, it is not the best wave in the world. It is simply too easy.
Despite claiming the lives of countless surfers and sending many to the hospital every year, the Banzai Pipeline is too easy a wave to be the best surf break in the world. However, it is not easy in the traditional sense. The beauty of New Jersey surfing is that it pushes surfers by placing them in situations that are uncomfortable, but not those that will risk their lives. The triumph that New Jersey surfers feel is that of facing a new and challenging obstacle upon entering the water for every surf session, but conquering these challenges nonetheless.
The challenges at the Banzai Pipeline are different. Jonathan Warren, a journalist for Surfline, stated that, “The conditions reach may reach up to twenty feet, but the wave also provides a channel for surfers to paddle out easily.” The conditions at the Banzai Pipeline are treacherous in their own manner, but it does not provide the same challenges or satisfaction that many New Jersey surfers must face. New Jersey surfers can face waves up to about twelve feet, but there is never a channel. Due to dredging in the winter, waves are prone to breaking often and everywhere which leads to a difficult paddle out. While the waves are not bigger, the satisfaction of finally making it into the lineup after taking set after set on the head is a feeling that only a New Jersey surfer will feel.
The Banzai Pipeline is a proving ground for up and coming surfers and as a result, it has a way of dealing with crowds that New Jersey surf does not. Massive sets and a dangerous, shallow reef prevent surfers from taking on this wave despite the crowd it attracts. However, this is not new as Pipeline has been a challenge since its inception as Warren states, “For nearly 60 years, this frightening gift of nature has stood out as one of the most challenging and perfect waves on the planet. While first believed to be unconquerable, Pipeline soon became the wave by which all others would be judged.” However, despite this legendary reputation, it does not provide the same challenges that New Jersey surfing provides. The waves in New Jersey are smaller and break on a soft beach break which means that most tourists and kooks will paddle out regardless of their lack of skill. This results in a dangerous situation for all surfers in New Jersey as a ride consists of weaving through many first time surfers before reaching a clean face to do any maneuvers. However, this is a challenge that many New Jersey surfers enjoy as it tests their ability to react quickly and adapt to new and difficult circumstances.
This further adds to the challenges that make New Jersey surf the best because every aspect of surfing is challenging here. From the crowded lineups to the small, mushy surf which breaks in different places every year. Pipeline has been breaking on the same reef since its creation which allows surfers like Jamie O’Brien and Eli Hanneman to make a career of surfing just one wave. New Jersey surfers must find where their favorite break has moved to each year and adapt to the changes that dredging brings.
Pipeline is also located in paradise. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association stated that, “The average water temperatures in Hawaii range between 73 degrees Fahrenheit and 81 degrees Fahrenheit while many New Jersey surfers often battle with temperatures just above freezing.” This means that while surfers at Pipeline are sitting out in an empty lineup in board shorts, Jersey shore surfers are in five millimeter wetsuits with frozen beards. New Jersey surfers struggle to stay warm out in the lineup while Hawaiians enjoy balmy ocean temperatures.
Another aspect of the Jersey Shore that makes it the best surf break in the world is its accessibility. New Jersey beaches are open to everyone and all surfers while Pipeline has had a history of denying women from surfing and competing in contests there. It was not until 2022 that women could officially compete at the Banzai Pipeline in competition. A New York Times article from 2022, written by Talya Minsberg, discussed the issue of women at Pipeline throughout history after this revolutionary breakthrough had been made, “women surfing Pipeline, a reef break producing huge waves, stuck out like sore thumbs.” While women are now able to compete in contests and in free surfs, their inability to do in the past has hindered their proficiency in surfing this wave which takes time to understand. Unlike Pipeline, the Jersey Shore has always welcomed women in the water and in contests which highlight how the surf breaks in the Jersey Shore are a place for everyone to feel challenged and subsequently satisfied in the water
The fact remains that New Jersey surfers deal with more difficult conditions than those of their Hawaiian counterparts. The Banzai Pipeline is a dangerous wave, but is manageable by the number of professional contests that occur annually. Jersey Shore surf tests every aspect of a surfer from their mental toughness in order to paddle out in frigid water to their quick thinking in order to handle crowds in the water to their adaptability to ever-changing lineup conditions. The New Jersey surfer embraces adversity and paddles out regardless of the struggles that lie ahead.
Warren, J. “Mechanics of Surfing Pipeline and Backdoor” Surfline. 6 January 2022. 19 April 2023.
“”Coastal Water Temperature Guide” National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration. 19 April 2023.
Minsberg, T. “Finding Gender Equality in the World’s Most Dangerous Waves” New York Times. New York Times. 22 December 2022. 2023.
I am sorry for the late submission of this essay. For the past few weeks I just haven’t felt like myself recently and its been difficult to muster the energy to complete work. I am hoping to make up ground this weekend, so that I am in a good place with my portfolio by the time it needs to be submitted. With that being said, I would appreciate feedback on this work. This is my weakest of the three arguments and I am aware of that. I believe that this work has struggled to make a clear case and connect to the claims made in my first two arguments. I was hoping you would be able to give me some feedback as to how I could better connect my arguments and form a more rebuttal to the arguments that Pipeline is the best wave in the world. Thank you.
P1. The Banzai Pipeline, located on the North Shore of Oahu, is considered by many to be the best wave in the world. It hosts multiple contests annually, including the Billabong Pro Pipe which pits the best surfers in the world against each other in a competition each January. Kelly Slater, an eleven time world champion and the greatest surfer of all time, has claimed to have caught the best wave of his life at Pipeline and the wave has been called the deadliest wave in the world due its amazing yet dangerous conditions. However, Pipeline is not the best wave in the world. It is too easy.
—At what point did we think the “best” wave would have to be the “most difficult” wave?
—I don’t think you mean for us to judge waves that way.
—Couldn’t a wave be “difficult” or “challenging” without being “dangerous” or “deadly”?
—Not being clear about what makes the wave Slater’s “best” or what makes YOUR wave “the best” makes for a slow start to your Rebuttal.
—If you’ve clearly identified the Characteristics of the Best Wave (or the Best Surf Beach), you’ll be able to compare how well Jersey beaches (waves) (surf) meet those characteristics AND how poorly even Slater’s “best” wave fails by comparison.
—If you haven’t identified those characteristics, your Categorical argument is the place to do that.
—Here you appear to be naming (or eliminating) a characteristic of TBSBITW: “It can’t be too easy.”
—This is unintelligible. Conditions vary widely (Good or Bad from your perspective? You have to WEILD these facts.).
—”Paddle out” is easy (Good or Bad from your perspective? You’re about to contradict this claim, so try to answer the question clearly here.).
—But “large conditions” (which are what exactly?) and “difficult paddle out” (You called it “easy.”) provide an “easy ride” (which, you’ve told us, is a category-breaker).
—Jersey, by contrast, makes things harder for the surfer (which is better WHY?).
I hope it’s clear from what I’ve shared so far that clarity of claims will go a long way to repairing the vagueness of your argument, RS6.
I’ll be happy to guide you through the rest of the argument if you ask for additional feedback following substantial revisions.