Wild, giant surf shut down competition today at the Billabong Pipe Masters In Memory of Andy Irons, but not before 11-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA) redeemed himself to keep his world title hopes alive in Round 2.
All Round 2 heats were completed before a rising swell with wave face heights of up to 30 feet washed out the competition zone, forcing an official “off” call at 1:45 p.m. Of the 12 heats completed, only two saw heat totals of more than 10 points out of 20 – a testament to the difficult conditions and minimal number of successful tube rides made.
Slater topped the scores with 17 points against Men’s Pipe Masters Invitational winner Reef McIntosh (HAW), closing the 40-minute heat with a near-perfect, deep and hollow tube that scored 9.57 points. He had the crowd cheering on their feet as he dropped into a deep pit, finishing off with a wraparound cutback and a chop hop for the highest single-wave score of the day. It was a satisfying result even though Slater had been skeptical about starting at all today.
“It’s was really challenging and really hard today,” said Slater. “I just figured if I’m going to win this contest, which I have to do to win the title, I’ve got to get through the best guys. In all honesty, Reef is one of the best guys out here from 4 feet to 20 feet and whatever size it is.
“I thought to myself, there are only 5 minutes left, don’t blow this opportunity and just make the right decision. That wave came and after falling on so many waves I was paddling for it and wondered if I should even go. When I bottom turned I saw this huge foam ball right in my line and I just went ‘God, I hope that thing disperses as it pitches,’ and luckily it did and it had a nice little face on it afterwards.”
Jadson Andre (BRA) surfed like a man possessed in his clash with Tiago Pires (PRT). He delivered a hefty drop on a massive wave before disappearing deep in the tube, then getting blasted out in a thick spit of spray, earning at 9.37.
“I was nervous before my heat because it’s really dangerous, it’s big,” said Andre. “I’m just stoked to make it. I know I’m safe for the next year but I’m really looking for a big result over here. If I win three more heats I can be in the top 16, and that would be really nice. I’m just trying to surf heat by heat, and that heat was great because at first I was kind of nervous and I’m just going to go on the first wave that I see.”
Pires struggled to find anything over 1.50. and is eliminated from the competition in equal 25th. The result means that the Portuguese surfer, who is currently sitting at 28th place on the rankings, will not qualify for the tour in 2015. Losses today also see Dion Atkinson (AUS), Mitch Crews (AUS) and Raoni Monteiro (BRA) fail to requalify for the 2015 Championship Tour (CT).
Almost every heat included a snapped surfboard or leash, keeping Hawaiian Water Patrol busy as they patrolled the lineup. The final heat of the day between Matt Wilkinson (AUS) and Aritz Aranburu (ESP) ended with a dramatic rescue of Aranburu in the impact zone. He was snatched at high speed from the clutch of a slamming closeout by the jet ski as his snapped board ricocheted wildly behind them. The loss sees the Spaniard eliminated both from competition and next year’s CT.
Jordy Smith (ZAF) had to exit the water early during his Round 2 heat after a Backdoor closeout tube slammed him into the reef injuring his shoulder and leaving the door open for Vans Triple of Surfing ratings leader Dusty Payne (HAW). Payne managed to edge the win and moves on to Round 3.
“It’s so tough today and they’re all scary waves and I really didn’t want to go on any of them,” said Payne. “There’s so much backwash coming back out, there’s waves coming back at you that are the size of waves you’re trying to take off on. I just hope Jordy (Smith) is okay.
“It’s so tricky, you could take off on 100 waves and not get it but just lucky I got that little right. I think I’m going to get Gabriel (Medina) in the next Round so that’ll be fun, I’m looking forward to it!”
Heat 7 saw an injured Travis Logie (ZAF) take to the water for his last ever appearance as a Championship Tour competitor after the South African announced his retirement. Logie was eliminated by Adrian Buchan (AUS) and leaves the competition in equal 25th place.
“It’s been crazy, the love that’s been shown to me. Before my heat I nearly teared up a little bit and I can’t believe it’s over. It’s bittersweet and I have lots of love for my family and my wife and Quiksilver and ASP for letting me do what I love for a living,” Logie stated. “I can’t believe it’s over but I’m stoked to go paddle out because yesterday I wasn’t walking. I’m just stoked I paddled out and gave it a shot.”
Event organizers will reconvene at 7:30 a.m. tomorrow to assess conditions and decide whether or not the contest is on. The next day of competition at the Billabong Pipe Masters could see a conclusion to this year’s World Title race as well as crown a Vans Triple Crown champion.
Billabong Pipe Masters Round 2 Results (1st to R3, 2nd = 25th):
Heat 1: Kelly Slater (USA) 17.00pts def. Reef McIntosh (HAW) 7.00pts
Heat 2: Michel Bourez (PYF) 8.33pts def. Makai McNamara (HAW) 4.57pts
Heat 3: Dusty Payne (HAW) 4.30pts def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 4.30pts
Heat 4: Nat Young (USA) 8.50pts def. Mitch Coleborn (AUS) 4.77pts
Heat 5: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 7.17pts def. Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 4.13pts
Heat 6: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 7.64pts def. Glenn Hall (IRL) 7.07pts
Heat 7: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 3.47pts def. Travis Logie (ZAF) 1.30pts
Heat 8: Kai Otton (AUS) 7.16pts def. Brett Simpson (USA) 6.83pts
Heat 9 : Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 6.90pts def. Mitch Crews (AUS) 1.57pts
Heat 10: Jadson Andre (BRA) 12.70pts def. Tiago Pires (PRT) 2.73pts
Heat 11: Julian Wilson (AUS) 4.50pts def. Dion Atkinson (AUS) 0.84pts
Heat 12: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 4.13pts def. Aritz Aranburu (ESP) 3.24pts
Billabong Pipe Masters Round 3 Match-Ups (1st to R4, 2nd = 13th):
Heat 1: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 2: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW)
Heat 3: Michel Bourez (PYF) vs. Matt Wilkinson (AUS)
Heat 4: Josh Kerr (AUS) vs. Jadson Andre (BRA)
Heat 5: Miguel Pupo (BRA) vs. Filipe Toledo (BRA)
Heat 6: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 7: Kolohe Andino (HAW) vs. Julian Wilson (AUS)
Heat 8: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Adrian Buchan (AUS)
Heat 9: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Jeremy Flores (FRA)
Heat 10: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Sebastien Zietz (HAW)
Heat 11: Nat Young (USA) vs. Kai Otton (AUS)
Heat 12: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Alejo Muniz (BRA)