(Photo above: Marius Syvanen, Tubed. Sikahi, HI)
After last year's extravagant extravaganza, everyone was certain and stoked we'd be back on the North Shore this past winter for another Weedmaps Pipehouse Experience. Would it be in the same lavish beachfront mansion? Would we be there for a full week during the Pipe Masters? Well, no. It was actually better than that.
This year's house was right on the infamous Bonzai Pipeline, and the trip was sixteen days long! As in line with Weedmaps' ethos of health and wellness, the house was stocked with local sustainable, non-GMO foods (shout out Hawaiian Fresh Farms) and cannabis products, doctors stopped by to administer vitamin rich IVs for rehydration, and masseuses came by to rehab any injuries. At best, to recap this hard-skating, yet very relaxing island adventure, here's what went down. Aloooha!
Words & Photos By Blair Alley
Let's start with the foundation: Weedmaps is still crusading its message of supporting, educating, and creating awareness about the benefits of cannabis and sports medicine. On January 12th, Weedmaps held a benefit concert for the American Rennisance Academy (arahawaii.org). Where they donated five dollars from every ticket sold. The rounded up $2,500 donation will be going to construction of "Transitional Living Domes" on the North Shore to house local homeless and sex trafficed victims. If you saw in our last issue, Stevie Williams is on the Weedmaps team now! So yes, that meant we'd be chilling and skating in Hawaii with S-Dot himself. A scenario I certainly couldn't have imagined in my younger years. One morning, Stevie arrived at one of the media houses (Weedmaps actually rented three houses on the North Shore to accommodate all the media personnel, so major shout outs to West Coast Cure, Flav RX, Paris OG, Connected Cannabis Co, Eco Science and Quality Resources) but it was already closed and locked up for the day. However, Stevie needed something out of the house. He took off his leather jacket and said, "Huh. Lemme show you something." Stevie walked around the back of the house, and emerged from inside, opening the front door a mere minute later. "Gentlemen, I'm from Philadelphia." And a classic Stevie story was born. Having Stevie in the van was a welcomed injection of stoke for our crew. He ate poke bowls, rolled up, cracked jokes—everyone's a Stevie fan, and he knows it. Fingers crossed for a Stevie documentary coming in the near future.
Now the North Shore doesn't have a whole lot to skate, but it does have its gems. The Bonzai Skatepark, just across the street from the famous surf break, would have sessions going all day long, barefoot locals, groms, girls, you name it. The Aloha spirit was alive in those transitions and we had a few great times there, Jaws chasing Nathan Fletcher through the park, chopping it up with the locals. And in the evening, there's this incredible light that comes from the setting sun over this part of the Pacific. It's got to be seen to be believed, but as a photographer, the sun flares and warm light are a golden hour as sweet as the food truck peel and eat shrimp.
Sheepside is the new DIY project down the street from our house. We rolled with local tour guide Tonz, so we were good money to check it out and have a roll. They had just finished a build on the tight fullpipe (think about six-feet tall), and the fun move was to pump around it while holding onto the top with your hands.
Now Jaws joined this trip with a torn MCL and a knee brace. It didn't really seem like he'd be doing much shredding. But Jaws couldn't resist his inner skate rat and dialed the full-pipe carve with assisted handholding. I asked him if he thought he could get around it with no hands—pretty much a legit loop, frontside. I saw the gleam in his eye and he started working it out. Not gonna lie, he had some hairy bails and shootouts, and with that knee brace on, it had us all a bit sketched out. But hey, you're never gonna land an epic trick if you don't risk it for a biscuit. And about fifteen minutes later, Jaws had looped it clean, more than once. Shout out to Tippy and Rob for the hospitality and BBQ. Speaking of North Shore residents, Arto Saari recently relocated to the sunny rural locale on a nice plot of land and is currently building some sort of skateable terrain on it. We'd see him at Foodland, biking his daughter to school in the morning, or hanging out by the food trucks with the locals. Yup, Arto made the jump from Hollywood to Hawaii and appears to be enjoying every sunset.
If anyone was the resident celebrity of the house, it was none other than Boo Johnson. He had the master bedroom upstairs with the double doors opening to the balcony overlooking Pipe, and he had his homie Slinks accompanying him as his personal lifestyle filmer for the length of the trip. He even tried to fly his sweet doggie out, but Hawaiian customs, or whatever, wasn't having it. Boo flew his doggie home and was back on the North Shore the next day. And not to speak too much, but if you know what the "LL" in LL Cool J stands for, we might as well start calling him LL Cool Boo.
On our first big skate mission down to "town" (Honolulu), Boo went ballistic, skating every spot, getting bangers, redoing a hairy five-0 on a hubba when a random person walked in front of my lens on the first try. He etched his name on Hawaii's NBD list with the 50-50 you see here, he also frontside and backside 180'd out of it. Boo took the next few days off in much-deserved island relaxation mode. There's not much else to say. Boo's just got it like that.
Marius Syvanen tweaked his ankle just days before this excursion, but that obviously wasn't stopping him from coming on this trip. He was in the van every day, rolling bangers and cheering on the team. At one ditch spot, Jon Holland spotted a section where the trees had grown over the bank. Jon suggested Marius roll through it and get pitted. I set up some flashes and Marius rolled through looking like he was getting drained at Backdoor. Thanks for the suggestion Jon. Govey got a photo! The photo of Tommy's frontside flip may look like it's at Wallows, but it's not. It's at a different ditch named Giant Wallows. This one is bigger, rougher, and damn near impossible to clear the gap. This ain't your grandpa's Wallows that the Bones Brigade was scraping early grabs off of in the 80s, brudda. The only person to successfully navigate this chasm was Hawaiian legend Sean Payne. Leave it to Tommy to step up to a Penny-esque frontside flip as the tropical sun was setting.
So as promised, the Weedmaps Pipe Experience was bigger than last year. More awareness was spread as the cannabiz in our country is growing and expanding. It's refreshing to see an industry able to support skating through products that can help us medicate, relax, and ultimately skate longer. So until next year, Aloha.