Over the last decade, Volcom has allotted millions of marketing dollars into the Banzai Pipeline, its locals, and adjacent real estate. And, announcing the new sponsorship of the 5-Star World Qualifying Series Pipeline Pro, the action sports brand is reinvesting into the North Shore community and Hawaii's 'QS surfers. At the same time, Volcom has never owned an ASP property.
"Pipe is extremely important to Volcom," says Volcom Surf Brand Manager, Brad Dougherty. "We have positioned ourselves on the beach so that our team riders and the local chargers can take full advantage of what is out front. Careers are made out of Pipeline and Backdoor."
In 2005, the publicly traded company purchased the Volcom House -- a single story dwelling located on 'Ehukai Beach Park. Notorious for barbecuing, raging and other debauchery, this frat house was an infamous gathering place for the most respected Pipe Specialists to regulate, heckle and congregate.
Two years later, the Stone crew bought the 3,000-square foot, three bedroom, five bathroom property across the beach for $4.2 million dollars. Formerly known as "Gerry's House," the Volcom Pipeline House is the winter residence for A-squad surfers like Bruce and Dingo.
While these two multi-million dollar beachfront properties house the surf team during the winter season, come Jan. 23 to Feb. 5, these dwellings will also serve as contest scaffoldings for the 5-Star WQS Volcom Pipeline Pro. According to Dougherty, this event is targeted to help Hawaii's 'QS surfers.
"(Hawaii WQS surfers) will benefit by having an event with real point potential in their backyard," says Dougherty. "It will give those who do well a good jumpstart on the WQS without having to travel so early into the year."
North Shore native and Volcom team rider Marcus Hickman is psyched on the upcoming 'QS event. Like Dougherty, Hickman knows the importance of the Volcom Pipeline Pro to the Hawaii 'QS surfers.
"I'm super excited. Pipeline is the best wave in the world and it's about time someone stepped up and used that permit for Hawaii surfing," says Hickman of the $120,000 Volcom Pipeline Pro. "It gives us a good jumping off point. We never had that. We had a couple of 3-stars and it was once a 4-star, but it's good to have a good starting off point for Hawaii 'QS surfers."
Historically, it's been difficult for Hawaiian residents like Hickman to travel the globe, surfing small, wind-blown beach breaks to accrue ratings points for Dream Tour qualification and entry into the Vans Triple Crown. According to Volcom Surf Team Manager Dave Riddle, Hawaii-born WQS warriors have a huge financial burden competing on tour.
"To compete on the World Qualifying Series, as a Hawaiian surfer, costs between $40,000 to $60,000 dollars per guy," says Riddle. "Without the opportunity to compete in events like this, if you're not highly sponsored then you're not going to be able to do it. It's brutal."
The Volcom Pipeline Pro is hoping to offset this financial constraint, set Hawaii WQS Warriors up for success and showcase the local talent at the most famous wave in the World. Furthermore, this 'QS event will also help stimulate the local economy on the Seven Mile Miracle says Riddle.
"It's huge for the community because it's another event," says Riddle, who resides on the North Shore year-round. "There are restaurants, gas stations, boutiques and everything else being used. The economy and local community is boosted, as well as the surfers."
It may seem that Volcom -- a company founded on being an alternative to traditional surf brands -- is moving away from its "anti-establishment" roots with this Association Surfing Professional event. But Dougherty points out that this is a natural growth for the action sports brand.
"We have been looking to do a large-scale event for a while and it just makes the most sense to do it at Pipeline," says Dougherty. "We're not changing our thinking at all -- just expanding. The event will give us the opportunity to show our brand to a larger audience. It will attract the best Pipeline surfers in the world and the webcast will allow them to showcase their talents globally."
The Billabong Pipeline Masters is the most prestigious single surf contest in the world because it's the final event of the World Championship Tour and the Triple Crown. But the 5-Star Volcom Pipeline Pro keeps Bruce Irons, Hickman and the Pipe's most proficient barrel riders competing on the grandest stage in surfing.
"Pipeline is the biggest arena we have in the whole world," says Hickman. "Everyone is watching Pipeline. If you're doing well out there, it's definitely good for your career."