The World Surf League's presence now shifts from the hallowed grounds of Haleiwa to one of the world's most iconic and famous waves - Pipeline. The HIC Pipe Pro, a Hawaii/Tahiti Nui regional Qualifying Series (QS) 1,000, is set for December 8 - 20 and a plethora of talent the world got to witness at Haleiwa is on hand once again.
Joining in is North Shore, Oahu's own Zoe McDougall after her Challenger Series campaign fell short in the Round of 32 and now looks to put the jersey back on at Pipeline for the first time since 2018.
"It's nice to just keep the ball rolling," said McDougall. "We've been competing for like four months now nonstop and I think it's good to stay in that head space, and not having too much of a break. Just that early to bed, early to rise routine I had at Haleiwa so it's easy to keep going."
The 21-year-old's last time in the heavy waters of Pipeline with a jersey came during the 2018 Billabong Pipe Masters in Loving Memory of Andy Irons when the women took to the lineup for their invitational heat. McDougall was joined by the likes of 5X WSL Champion Carissa Moore, along with former Championship Tour competitors Coco Ho and Alessa Quizon.
"My experiences at Pipeline have been really special," added McDougall. "When I got to do the invitational it was definitely the largest I've surfed it at like eight-foot right before the men's Pipe Masters Final that year. I normally won't go surf it that often just because of the crowd intimidation so to let us go out there with our caddies and everything was great. I remember I had Jay Davies as mine, Uncle Mike (Ho) was out there, Alessa (Quizon) had Caio Ibelli, and Carissa (Moore) brought Pancho (Sullivan) out. We were all pretty much just helping each other try to get waves. I think I definitely learned the most about Pipe in that heat."
But, now regional points are on the line and all-important points towards rejoining the Challenger Series for her shot at CT qualification.
"It'll be an interesting event just because so many girls from the CT coming to Pipeline to get their practice in. It's definitely smart for them and a great opportunity, but it makes it a unique regional event compared to any other. And I think there's certainly something to be said about knowing a break and being comfortable in Hawaii water.
That's why you see guys at the Triple Crown who, anywhere else in the world would be underdogs, take out some really big names every year. Anything can happen at these events and I think it makes it an even playing field."
Stay tuned for more from Zoe McDougall and company at the HIC Pipe Pro QS 1,000 beginning December 8 - 20 at Banzai Pipeline, North Shore, Oahu.