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HPU's Hubbard wins Rockstar Games Pipeline Pro on Oahu's north shore

by Baxter Cepeda, News editor

   

The night before the big one, athletes have many ways to prepare.

For Jeff Hubbard, a general business major at HPU it included attending a night class until 8:15 p.m.

It must have worked for him. Hubbard won the Rockstar bodyboarding Pipeline Pro held Feb. 4-5 at the world famous Banzai Pipeline on Oahu’s north shore.

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“I just went home, had some food, and then tried to get some sleep for my heats on Tuesday,” said Hubbard, who is married to HPU’s Director of Student Life Heather Hubbard. “I woke up at 6:30 a.m.”

 

The early rise was the beginning of two days that would culminate with the six-year pro winning one of the top events in his sport. “It’s just like the Super Bowl or one of the great grand slams of any major athletic event,” said Hubbard.

“It’s pretty much a dream for me, because, growing up here in Hawai‘i and bodyboarding, the one you want to win is Pipeline because it’s undisputedly one of the craziest waves in the world and one of the best waves in the world.”

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“If you can win there, you prove yourself in all aspects of the sport in competition, and you know you are at the top of the field.”

In the final heat, Hubbard, originally from Kauai and a ’93 graduate of Hawaii Preparatory Academy on the Big Island, racked up 149.4 points to squeak by South Africa’s Andre Botha, who finished with 146.8 points. Australia’s Ben Player garnered 143.3 points for third while Hawai‘i’s Alistair Taylor rounded out the final with 139 points.

Hubbard said he used his local knowledge in the final heat to pick a great first wave that would catapult him to victory. “I just waited for the set and a perfect wave came. I’d been waiting for a while, just making sure, I wanted to catch the right wave and I got a really good wave to start off with—probably the best wave of the heat— a big Pipeline barrel, a classic spit out, punch through the foam, probably a solid six-foot pit,” said Hubbard. “When you start out on a good note, it helps, and I got a lot of good barrels all day and good rides.” Good conditions earlier in the day gave Hubbard even better rides than the ones he had in the final. “In the morning, it was just perfect, solid eight-foot, the best Pipeline all year,” said Hubbard. “In the early rounds, we were just getting spit out of so many barrels, it was pretty big.”

The final required a little more patience. “You had to wait a little bit longer for the waves,” said Hubbard. “Toward the last heat it finally dropped off a bit, so the sets were only like six foot, and they had a little bump, so you had to know what to look for. Since I have the local knowledge, I just waited and made sure I took the right wave.”

Getting over the flu Hubbard, exhausted and hungry after the final heat, did not find out he won the contest until a few minutes after he got out of the water. “The results were really close, so I was just trying to see how I did and I was just excited to make it to the final. I surfed more than anybody that day,” said Hubbard. “When they called my name, I just couldn’t believe that I won, so I was blown away, because that’s something you always dream about.

“I always tried to picture what I’d do if I were in that situation. You know, you dream of ‘what am I going to do if I win the contest? What is going to happen?

So-it was pretty cool, actually, living it out.” So what was the first thing he did? “

After it sunk in, I called my wife (who was working) and let her know how I did,” said Hubbard. “Then I did all my interviews and stuff and drove home and was just kind of tripping out that it had happened, and I was still just in cloud nine. I was just pretty emotional and really excited the whole night and went out with my family and friends to Hard Rock, and had a good night—it was fun.”

Hubbard, who won $6,000 for his win at Pipeline, finished fourth in the GOB World Super Tour, comprised of the top 24 bodyboarders in the world, which culminated at Pipeline. Hubbard started the season slowly, with a ninth place finish at The Box in Western Australia. The tour then went to Sydney, where Hubbard finished fourth. In Indonesia, in his final event before the start of the fall semester at HPU and the Pipeline Pro, Hubbard took fourth.

Hubbard’s previous best finish at Pipeline was fifth. He is not unfamiliar to high finishes. He placed third in Japan and has won the U.S. tour and other big events. His best finish in the U.S. Open is second place. “Pipeline is the biggest event I’ve ever won,” he said. After graduating from high school and before turning pro, Hubbard attended the University of Hawai‘i-Manoa but when his bodyboarding career took off he decided to drop school and focus on bodyboarding.

After marrying Heather last year, Jeff returned to college. “I got close to HPU. She was taking some classes, and I got really interested. I met a lot of the faculty and met a lot of the people, and everyone was nice and supportive, so I figured ‘I’m going to be able to take some classes here’,” said Hubbard. “You can take classes at night, really good night classes, so I can bodyboard all day and travel because if you communicate with your teachers you can miss a class or two, as long as you do all the work, because it’s your job.”

Heather and Jeff met in Virginia Beach in 1998, where Heather lived and Jeff was visiting as he traveled doing promotions for his then two-year-old company, “No Friends Productions”, which produces videos and clothing. “Ever since then, we’ve been together.”

Despite his business and academics success, Hubbard’s passion is still in bodyboarding. He stays in shape through cardiovascular exercise, light weights, and surfing big and heavy spots as much as possible.

He attributes his success in bodyboarding to where he grew up. “There are many people on Kauai who bodyboar d really well. It was good watching them, and that’s how I got involved in it, and I just stared getting really good at it and progressing and loving it, loving the sport,” Hubbard said.

He added: “I always had more fun bodyboarding with friends—all my friends bodyboarded—and it was just more fun to go out and bodyboard, because there’s all kinds of heavier waves, big beach breaks and big barreling waves and real shallow waves on Kauai, and some really good, crazy spots that you can’t really surf (stand up), but you can bodyboard.” Hubbard believes bodyboarding would still have drawn him even if he had grown up somewhere else, such as on Oahu’s north shore. “I probably would have ended up bodyboarding regardless, just because it looks so extreme and it just seems a little more fun to me, a little more care-free and relaxed.”

Hubbard added: “And every-time I go to the beach, everyone, all the tourists on the beach, always give more hoots to all the bodyboarders because you can do a lot more things like hit the lip and just go flying 20 feet in the air, and do back-flips and stuff, and it looks pretty amazing.”

 

 
 

 

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