Surf’s up, the competition is on.
Stan Lawrence, organizer of the 35th annual Quiksilver-Maui Jim Sunglasses Pro-Am Surfing Trials at Honoli’i, made the announcement official Friday — the annual competition will begin at 7 a.m. Sunday.
“It’s on,” Lawrence said of the contest designed to be a step ladder for Big Island surfers in their quest to achieve entry to bigger tournaments and bigger prizes. “I hope people get the message, this is for Big Island surfers only, we aren’t including Maui people, Oahu, whatever, this is for Big Island kids, hopefully, who need a boost in trying to reach their goals.”
The top Big Island surfing event, this year it is being contested in the memory of longtime Hilo resident and pillar of the local surfing community, Owen Koehnen.
The top four junior men’s finishers get slots in the Pro-Junior events on Oahu. The Pro-am Surfing Trials occur once a year and is the Big Island’s premiere surfing event while serving as the rookie development league for Hawaii Island surfers.
The contest is limited to the first 80 resident entries, with a $70 non-refundable late entry fee, which includes a t-shirt. Lawrence said he is hopeful of as many as 60 entrants, and he offered a tip to younger contestants.
“Anyone under-18 needs a waiver form that is signed in front of me, with their parents, or one of their parents with them,” said Lawrence, owner of Orchidland Surf Shop. “It’s kind of a clunky rule, but those are the rules they use to make sure parents know there’s a chance of danger out there, we will get some overhead surf, so let’s be safe and have everyone understand what they’re getting into.”
Lawrence said notarized entry forms are acceptable, “but if people just come by (Orchidland, on Saturday), they can bring a parent, fill out the form and avoid paying $20 or whatever for a notary.”
Surfers will compete in junior men’s under 18, women’s open, open 9 foot longboard, and open body board divisions.
Winners are granted entry into professional contests held from October 2019 thru March of 2020. Entry into a Oahu pro-contest is worth $150 and there will be over $3000 in prizes.
Koehnen was a life long surfer and an actively promoted developing youth surfing. He was a charter member of the restore Kaipalaoa Park working group, which saw under Mayor Billy Kenoi, the creation of downtown Hilo’s small beach park and the site of the Hilo Bay lighthouse. Owen was a perennial surf judge at the Pro-am and a critical day-of-event organizer.
“It won’t be the same without him” Lawrence said, “but we’re going to be thinking about him.”