The waiting period for Red Bull Queen of the Bay is underway and the roster of big-wave surfers are eagerly awaiting a swell big enough to shake Waimea from its offseason slumber. While “The Bay” hasn’t been busy yet this season on the North Shore, contest organizers Betty Depolito and Wrenna Delgado have been working day and night, breathing life into the first event of its kind.
As the first and only female surf competition at Waimea Bay, the birthplace of big-wave surfing, the eyes of the surfing world are locked on their efforts, ready for what promises to be a thunderous event. On any given swell strong enough to move mountains of water towards the Coliseum-like big-wave amphitheater, men and women grab their rhino chasers, charge their way through the shorebreak and into the lineup with one thing on their collective minds — big, mean, beautiful surf at perhaps the most meaningful and historically significant break in the world.
While surfing Waimea is a coed affair, only the men have had a chance to put their skills to test in competition at The Bay. With Red Bull Queen of the Bay, that’s about to change.
While running a big-wave event of any sort presents monumental challenges, Depolito and Delgado have taken the task in stride, motivated by much more than personal incentive.
As a pioneer of women’s surfing on the North Shore of Oahu, ”Banzai Betty” has experienced the growth of the sport firsthand. While she knows surfing has progressed leaps and bounds since her days as a pro, there’s still a ways to go in truly establishing a seat at the table for women in big-wave surfing. Depolito has been fighting for it for decades, and this event is a huge step in the right direction.
Delgado made the move to the North Shore at 19, and quickly established herself in the heavy water lineups along the 7 Mile Miracle, Waimea included. As the mother of a 1-year-old daughter, Delgado is motivated to leave women’s surfing in a better place for all future generations.
#Repost from the inspiring and hardworking Congresswoman @tulsigabbard. It was an absolute honor and a pleasure to have her at the Opening Ceremony! #windsofchange 🌬🌪🌪🌪 ・・・ #fbf to a historic day with these amazing big wave surfers to kick off the first ever women-only big wave surf competition at Waimea Bay. Women have been barred from competing in many big wave contests. It took 8 long years just to get the permit for this, but now the Women’s Waimea Bay Championship has become a reality. Stay tuned as they wait for the waves! #surf #waimea #hawaii @waimeabaychamp . Thanks to @dougfalter for capturing these moments!
Not only will Red Bull Queen of the Bay take place in Waimea’s hallowed waters, but the event will be held in honor of Kuhina Nui Ka’ahumanu. Born on Maui in the 18th century, Queen Ka’ahumanu played a huge role in reshaping the roles of Hawaiian women in society. Defying the Kapu system’s (ancient Hawaiian laws) strict divisions between men and women, this Hawaiian Queen and surfer sat at the table to dine alongside the King, which was strictly forbidden at the time. This single act of defiance and strength set the tone for massive change in the relationships between men and women in Hawaiian society.
“In this spirit, we wish to sit at the table, to humbly showcase the raw beauty found in the giant surf of Waimea Bay, and to demonstrate the strength and grace of the women who ride her waves,” says the contest’s co-directors.
In this spirit, we wish to sit at the table, to humbly showcase the raw beauty found in the giant surf of Waimea Bay, and to demonstrate the strength and grace of the women who ride her waves.
So, here’s to hoping those swell forecasts turn twenty-plus feet and competition gets the green light. Keep your eyes tuned to Red Bull Surfing for updates on the inaugural Red Bull Queen of the Bay.