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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Pro bodyboarders rally for title event

By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer

Some of the world's best professional bodyboarders will stage a rally at Honolulu Hale at 3 p.m. today in an effort to keep their sport's premier event on schedule.

The World Bodyboard Championships apparently has not been granted a permit to run at the Banzai Pipeline in January. The contest has been held at Pipeline every year since 1983.

"I don't know if it's definite because we're fighting it," said Bob Thomas, director of the championships. "The last word I got was that we don't have a contest."

The city Department of Parks and Recreation issues permits for the contests. That office was closed yesterday, and officials could not be reached.

"All our paperwork was submitted on time and we did everything by the rules," Thomas said. "And then they come out of nowhere and tell us we're out. I asked for an explanation and didn't get one, so now we're hoping to get the mayor's attention."

Mike Stewart, who has won a record nine world championships in bodyboarding, said he will attend the rally, but added:

"It's ridiculous that it's come to this. Nobody has really come out with an explanation on why we can't get a permit."

The World Bodyboard Championship serves as the annual finale for bodyboarding's world tour. Each year, the contest at Pipeline determines the sport's world champion.

It is the only major bodyboarding event held in Hawai'i.

"I grew up on Kaua'i and this was the one contest you'd always see on the TV news and in the newspaper," said competitor Jeff Hubbard. "If we don't have this contest, it's going to affect a lot of people, not just the bodyboarders."

More than 100 bodyboarders from around the world compete in the event, and Thomas has told the international competitors to put plans on hold for now.

The possible elimination of the contest may be part of the fallout of an agreement by the city in September to abide by rules for contests on O'ahu's North Shore. Violations of those rules — including too many contest days at the Banzai Pipeline — were made public by a group called Let's Surf Coalition.