The Monster Energy Pipeline Pro, presented by Billabong, returns to the North Shore of Oahu this week, kicking off on January 27th at the Banzai Pipeline. The event, the first professionally rated big-wave surfing contest of 2007, will draw more than 160 competitors from 11 nations, all out for a piece of Pipeline glory and a share of the $75,000 prize purse.

It will also bring 40 Monster Sweepstakes winners from across the US Mainland to enjoy the event as VIPs. More than 13,000 hopefuls entered the Sweepstakes, eager to experience the North Shore's big-wave phenomenon.

Heading the field of Monster Energy Pipeline Pro competitors will be defending event champion Rob Machado (California), internationally revered big-wave rider Shane Dorian (Hawaii) - a wildcard into this year's event - and a slew of local Pipeline aficionados that includes Jamie O'Brien, Makuakai Rothman, Pancho Sullivan, Ian Walsh, Jamie Sterling, and the evergreen Derek Ho.

As a highly rated four-star Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Qualifying Series (WQS) competition, the Monster Energy Pipeline Pro is a rare opportunity for Hawaii surfers to gain valuable ratings points at home.

And not only points, the event will also offer up a handful of wildcards into the world's longest running pro surfing tournament: the Billabong Pipeline Masters, which will be the final stop of both the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing and the ASP World Tour, in December.

While Billabong has presented the Monster Energy Pro for several years, they will come on board as the title sponsor of the Pipeline Masters for the first time in '07, essentially book-ending the world tour with a Hawaii start and finish.

Pipeline has dished up exceptional surf for the Monster Energy Pro for the past two years, with epic days of 15- to 20-foot surf rolling through consistently to provide some of the Banzai's most memorable moments. Long-range forecasts for the upcoming event promise the same.

As part of this year's event, the Monster Energy Pipeline Pro will commence with an official blessing and welcome ceremony at Ehukai Beach Park at 3pm on Friday, January 26th. Competitors and officials will partake in a cultural ceremony that will also be open to the public.

www.billabong.com

www.monsterenergypro.com