City denies permit to run Backdoor Shootout surf contest

NORTH SHORE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The city's Parks and Recreation Department has denied a permit for a popular North Shore surf contest that highlighted local surfers on epic waves.

Da Hui and its supporters are furious after the Backdoor Shootout was bumped from next year's roster at Pipeline. The department gave the nod to a small bodysurfing contest that scored higher on its application.

Da Hui went to Instagram to complain that the permit was going to a single individual for a half-day contest. The man, Alan Lennard, plans to run the Pipeline Bodysurfing Classic, last held in 2011.

"I had no choice but to apply for multiple time slots to see if I could regain a time slot on the Ehukai calendar," said Lennard.

The reaction on social media has been swift, with the majority supporting Da Hui. But both sides aren't happy with the permitting process. Right now, Da Hui's spokeswoman said the decisions are made by a panel of three non-surfers in the Parks Department. She wants the panelists to have more knowledge than what's on paper.

"You actually have to go there and learn and kinda take into consideration what these contests are about and who it directly affects," said Da Hui's Mahina Chillingworth.

"The rules are complicated. They're confusing. And my assessment is I don't even see how they can really work," said Lennard.

Lennard also said there is a lack of diverse events at Pipeline, with the vast majority of the contests involving short boards. There are few bodysurfing events, and this year, he said there are no bodyboarding events at all.

Lennard also has been advocating for changes in the permitting process for several years.

The city got 26 applications for contests next season, with 23 of them vying for Pipeline at around the same time. The Parks Department recently denied a schedule change from the World Surf League, which then threatened to pull out of Hawaii.

A spokesman for Mayor Kirk Caldwell said he's still moving ahead to form an advisory committee of surfers and company representatives to create new guidelines to avoid future conflicts. But both sides are skeptical.

"I understand that the rules are going to be changed come 2019 and '20, but what are we going to do right now?" said Chillingworth.

"He's a lame duck mayor, so I'm not sure if this really will happen," said Lennard.

Da Hui is appealing the decision. Caldwell's spokesman said he will allow the process to continue through the Parks Department.

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