Da Hui Backdoor Shootout 2019

Event Details

The Da Hui Backdoor Shoot out in Memory of Duke Kahanamoku Invitational, its uniquely jersey-less, four-man-team format, and its spotlight on some of Hawaii’s top watermen, an excellent chance to see top action from the island’s best in their respective watersports, including bodysurfing, bodyboarding, longboarding, SUPing, and shortboard surfing. Hawaii’s underground talent as well as household names like the defending Champion Koa Rothman, Makua Rothman, Jamie O’Brian, Kealii Mamala, John John Florence and Mason Ho are surfing their best at Backdoor, Pipeline, and Off The Wall.

Why is no one wearing a jersey?

The Shootout is the only contest where you can score a perfect, 12-point ride. Just ask Koa Rothman and Ryan Hipwood, who both pulled the score. WSL-sanctioned rules don’t apply at the contest, which makes it that much more interesting and, well, confusing, to follow. Essentially, competitors surf an equal amount of times in a non-elimination format. They do so without jerseys, and judges recognize competitors in the lineup based on their style. The best scores are tallied in each round, and number of rounds dictates how many waves are counted. How does a surfer know when his heat is, or who he’s facing? Simple: examine the makeshift heat sheet taped to a square board next to the contest scaffolding. The points ceiling is raised to 12, too. Another unique element to the format: the call to surf or not surf is something voted on by the surfers themselves.

2019 Weedmaps Pipe Dreams Commercial

Backdoor Shootout in 2018

“The best conditions the contest has ever seen”

This bold claim can be attributed to any the competitors, from Koa Rothman to Jamie O’Brien and Ryan Hipwood and specifically contest personnel. Even ask Uncle Eddie Rothman and he’ll offer a slow grin.

But the waiting period didn’t start with such high expectations. During the first week of January, the forecast looked bleak: small, fun-sized surf that certainly wasn’t contest worthy. The opening ceremony for the Shootout commenced during that week, with ceremonial chants asking the Hawaiian wave god Kanaloa for swell. Heading into the second week of the waiting period, a WNW swell lit up the buoys and on January 12, Day 1 ran in six to eight-foot glassy conditions. Day 2 saw a reinforcement of swell that rose throughout the day, reaching the 15- to 20-foot range and Day 3 saw a continuation of epic, headline worthy conditions.

Glory & Gore

With the monumental swell came glory and nearly tragic gore. Pipeline wizard Gavin Beschen broke his elbow, and Kalani Chapman nearly drowned. By now, you’ve heard the latter — Kalani, such a strong, fearless and collected surfer rendered powerless in the foaming whitewater. Thanks to the help of Seth Moniz, Nathan Florence and the Hawaiian Water Patrol, he was resuscitated and taken to the hospital, where he’s now in stable condition and good spirits. The news of Kalani spread like wildfire from one team house to another, creating a heavy atmosphere amongst the salty and warm air. Nearly all competitors’ eyes, previously filled with adrenaline-fueled excitement and bewilderment, were replaced with a stone cold look that voiced a stark realization: that could have been anyone.

Team Weedmaps wins their first team-sponsored title (2018)

Other than the ISA, there’s no teams in pro surfing, unless it’s at the Backdoor Shootout. The contest, which began in 1996, offers one of the few opportunities for surfers to compete as a unit, working together for first place. Team Weedmaps, who entered the Shootout with an absolutely loaded roster, outscored all other teams, including Team Volcom and Team Da Hui Wax, with help from Bruce Irons’ 10.83 point ride and his 5th place finish overall, Mason Ho’s 11.83 point ride and his 3rd place overall, and Tyler Newts’ high scoring Off the Wall barrel.

Koa Rothman nails his own Wave of the Winter

In a tight competitive field, it was one wave that served as an exclamation mark to Koa’s solid performance throughout the contest, pushing him into first place. What made the wave different from other high scoring waves, including Ryan Hippwood’s 12-point barrel ride (which helped win him the Performance Award), Jamie O’Brien’s 11-point ride or Mason Ho’s 11.83 ride. Well, other than the size, the fact that Koa was so deep that the wave violently spit moments before he came out of the cavern. “I’d just like to say thank you to my dad, Auntie Mahina and the Da Hui family,” said Koa at the awards ceremony, holding his $40,000 prize check. Looking into the annals of the contest, he’s one of the only Da Hui members to win the event, along with Johnny Boy Gomes. “That was the best wave of my life, I don’t know how I made it. I’d like to wish Kalani a speedy recovery, too. Everybody’s rooting for you. You’re a warrior.”