Winter is awards season, what with the Oscars and Golden Globes and all that. The Carve awards aren’t quite on that scale. So we don’t need to bust out the tuxedos and frocks. It’s our tongue in cheek round up of a wild year. So. Enjoy 2015 through our distorted lens. (Originally published in Carve issue 166 in December 2015, which went to print mid-way through the Pipe comp).
MAN OF THE YEAR*
There’s not a great surprise here. The king of surfing for 2015 is Mick Fanning. He’s transcended our niche to become a global name in the mainstream and, at time of writing, is going into the last event of the season number one on the tour with another world title his to lose. To do so on the back half of a tour post shark is all the more impressive. Mick we salute you, bloody good bloke, amazing surfer, total professional. Here’s to another title.
*AND TWEAKIEST SPHINCTER
WOMAN OF THE YEAR
In the convoluted world of women’s surfing where showing your booty leads to more sponsors and Instagram followers than being an amazing surfer Carissa Moore is a rare beacon. She surfs better than a good chunk of the men and lets her surfing do the talking. Like Mick she’s killed it this year and is looking like nailing another title.
That Fricking Shark
It’s amazing that in all the years the world tour has been going there’s not been a shark attack. Sure there’s been plenty of sightings and the odd watery evacuation scare but never contact. For it to happen live in one of the biggest events of the year to one of highest profile surfers is mind blowing. If you were watching the J-Bay webcast live as we were you’ll know the horror and sinking feeling everyone felt as Mick disappeared. As to whether it was an attack most agree it was a tangle slash bumps as opposed to an actual intentional attack. If that were the case it probably wouldn’t have had the happy ending and mass press coverage as ‘surfer punches shark’ is absolute gold. Whilst it might have dented the shark’s pride it didn’t hurt Mick’s career.
FUNNIEST INTERNET REACTION
Where there’s a unique news story the internet obliges with taking the piss shortly after. The shark memes went crazy.
Lucked into the swell and session of the year at Nias and has gone on to win the UK Pro Surf Tour. So as 2015 goes not a bad one for young Luke. His trajectory keeps on soaring.
Gearoid McDaid & Angus Scotney
The big Fourth Surfboards trip to the Mentawai was one of the highlights of the magazine season. It was a blast for all concerned but one of the things that might not have come across is the tender bromance between trip groms Angus and Gearoid. They’re were brothers from another mother for the duration. Lovely to see.
MOST SHOUTED AT ONLINE
Whilst it was a well conceived, brilliantly filmed and perfectly executed slice of marketing, that garnered a zillion views, a lot of folk got the wrong end of the stick of the ‘riding a motorbike at Teahupo’o’ thing. Lost count of the online warriors decrying motorbikes as surfing equipment. As if that will ever be a thing. Those self same people don’t shout about jet skis either. Which is odd. Anyway. It was a stunt that caught the mainstream attention.
BEST USE OF FIRE
Teahupo’o has whored itself repeatedly this year if it wasn’t Point Break 2 filming it was JOB pushing the envelope of webisodes by setting fire to himself and surfing a sick tube.
In the morass of online content the crazier the better it seems and it went down a storm.
TRIPPER OF THE YEAR
The North Devon youngster’s epic solo journey from California to Mexico via huge Mavericks, Todos and Puerto is still, six months later, incredibly impressive. Budge up Cotty and Tom there’s new big wave hero coming to join the gang.
BEST BRITISH WOMAN
Not content with Taz hogging the limelight Peony won pretty much everything in 2015 also. Not sure what’s in the water up there in Devon but it’s working.
ABOUT TO MAKE EVERY SURF FILM LOOK POOP
John John Florence
JJF is a man of superlatives. He doesn’t do things by half. So his new profile movie View From A Blue Moon is the first 4K surf movie and seeing as it’s been produced by the Brain Farm crew (them that did Art of Flight) will blow the doors clean off the whole idea of surf moving imagery from here on out. It comes out the day we send the mag to the printers, and they neglected to premiere it in the UK, so we’ve not seen it yet… (UPDATE: now we have and the verdict? Incredible production values, some phenomenal surfing but somehow left us wanting more.)
BEST RUN OF SWELL
Been a weird one for swell world wide this year. Autumn’s not really been all that. Thankfully we had an epic run in April. Three weeks of perfectly clean, warm, right size west coast goodness. All that teamed with some of the best sand bars your correspondent has seen. ‘Like Trestles’ was a common quip. Fingers crossed winter delivers.
SMALL PERSON OF THE YEAR
Wins everything. Froths hard. Surfs amazing. Little Stan continues his ascendancy and best of all there’s a big crew of mini-groms around him all coming through at the same time.
FEEL GOOD FROTHER
From being seriously ill for a lot of his adult life Oli braved surgery and is now free from Crohns and is like a new man. Full of beans, even more of an exploratory frother and surfing better than ever. Which explains why you see him in the mag so much.
SQWEEEE! CUDDLE EXPLOSION AWARD
That fricking seal.
Stuff Kim K it was the seal getting a tummy tickle from a scuba diver in the Scilly Isles that melted the internet this year.
SW Water and Dave Cameron
Yes. The leader of the UK who fronts the party that thought selling off the public utilities would be a good idea got to bodyboard in poop from the dated infrastructure that SW Water refuse to even consider updating.
IT ACTUALLY FLIPPING HAPPENED
The first public WaveGarden in the world finally opened to great fanfare in North Wales hurrah!
And then promptly broke. Fingers crossed it all gets sorted over the winter.
MOST HYPED WEATHER PHENOMENON
The little boy is now being called the strongest event ever. Surpassing even the mega one of 1997. As to whether there will be another 100-foot Outside Logs Cabin session as the North Shore tries to not get washed away remains to be seen. The effects on global weather have been marked with the ‘biggest’ ‘strongest’ ‘latest’ storms and typhoons happening with alarming regularity all over the globe and sometimes in places where such things aren’t even a thing. Like the typhoon off of Oman recently.
SWELL OF THE YEAR
Indian Ocean mega event
It was the defining swell of the year with the Right in WA, Nias and Kandui all delivering the images that blew our socks clean off in 2015.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Jamie XX: In Colour
If you don’t have this in your iTunes then you might want to check it out. One of the albums of pure invention that gets better with every listen. Also getting a lot of plays in 2015: Grimes, Foals, Courtney Barnett, Spring King, TVAM, Sunset Sons, PSB, Churches and Blur.
If there’s one word in surfing that epitomises our collective idea of perfection it’s: Mentawai. The mythic Indonesian island chain home to flawless reefs, glassy walls and a deep seated spot in surf lore. It’s a chain where the dream of surfing unspoilt, uncrowded, tropical perfection really came to life. Twenty years on since those early Martin Daly trips alerted the world to the motherlode how is the remote Mentawai chain strung west of Sumatra dealing with the modern world? Has the rise of the land camp turned it into a Kuta waiting to happen? Are the locals getting a look at the western dollars yet? We took a crew for a mission to see how the land lies.
Once upon a time the way to do the Ment’s was by charter boat. They were the only option. As overland travel, then as now, is extremely arduous bordering on dangerous. Heavy duty malaria was rife, inter-island transport was by dugout canoe prone to swamping and if you did machete your way through the dense jungle to find your slice of perfection there was nowhere to stay or purchase supplies. Heaven help if you hurt yourself and needed medical attention. Suffice to say if you made it to HTs etc under your own steam last century then you officially get a Surf Explorers Platinum Mad Dog Medal. The boats were the sensible option. Get a bunch of mates together and spend a few weeks searching the chain for barreling joy. This was good for the boat owners, generally western, and good for the government officials from the mainland who sold ‘permits’. Not so good for the islanders who might get to sell a carving or two to passing boat trade.
Last time I visited nine years ago this was the status quo. You trucked about on your vessel and whenever you scored empty surf you crossed your fingers no other boat, especially one of pros, turned up. Of course good captains knew where was best and often you’d have three boats at one spot with twenty pros squabbling for limited sets to get their clips and shots. There’s no more heart sinking feeling than being faced with perfect Macaronis, pre-surf camp, and having it to yourself and seeing the Indies Trader IV, with helicopter on the roof, steam over the horizon. Knowing full well that a corpo team were frothing inside and ready to surf and shoot and steamroll the hell over whatever your little Brit crew were hoping to achieve. Even worse if you were just there on a very expensive holiday. At the time land camps weren’t really a thing.
These days the Ments aren’t the pro cadres personal island chain. It’s not the default for video sections it once was. Mainly because it got done to absolute death and also because us normal folk have twigged that it’s achievable and the waves are mainly doable for the intermediate competent surfer. The pros have moved on to the deeper reaches of the outer islands for their clips and the Ments are now a public playground. Which is where we come in… I’ve never done it land camp style. Always been slightly suspicious of the idea so it was high time to see if a new kind of surf tourism was happening or whether it was still westerners running western operations while the locals looked on nonplussed like with the boats…
The guys at Fourth surfboards fancied a post-summer mission to cleanse off the foam dust and fired out an email to the team to see if anyone bit. Simple concept: Mentawais, staying at a rad little land camp in the wave rich Playgrounds end of the chain, go surf, shoot and have a blast. Harty and Luke weren’t expecting near as dammit the whole team, only Hazza Timson and Lowey had other plans, to say yes. Which is how the business end of Luke Hart, Ben Jones and Lee Bartlett ended up herding cats. With Tom Butler, Mitch Corbett, Corinne Evans, Emily Williams, Tassy Swallow, Adam Griffiths, Alan Stokes, Angus Scotney, Gearoid McDaid, Oli Adams, filmer Mr B and myself to somehow fit on obliging planes and boats.
Turns out the camp wasn’t even big enough. Luckily the guys at Matungou had been planning some new bungalows anyway so they got carpentering as we all decided which boardies and bikinis to take. Making the trip easier Buts and Bearman headed over early so that made the utterly apocalyptic luggage sitch a tad better.
Due date came and Emirates airlines effortlessly whisked our awkward cargo away with a smile and we were away. Now getting to Bali is easy. Maybe one stopover if you’re unlucky. Getting to the Mentawais is a bigger ask. We did Dubai/Kuala Lumpur. Night there. Then Air Asia to Padang. Air Asia is in essence the SE Asia version of Ryanair. Except they’re much nicer about boards. Again we got faultless service from a check in lady whose morning we ruined. Easy part done getting from the frankly grim city of Padang on Sumatra out to the island chain involves a boat. There’s a big ferry or smaller, faster boats. We had a small, fast vomit-comet. Those four hours were some of the worst of my travelling life. It was about as fun as having your nipples sanded off. Being on the edge of puking while bouncing around in a sweaty cabin for four hours was not an ideal end to what had been a breezy trip until that point. Still. You don’t get to the edges of the Earth easily. We’ll all look back on it as character building one day. It made a 36 hour bus ride in Chile with food poisoning seem like a fun idea.
Thankfully Matungou is an oasis of calm. Traditionally crafted wooden buildings nestled on the edge of a serene palm lined bay. It was a very welcome sight after two days travel. We were soon welcomed by Dr Ollie, a very affable gent from Lyme Regis, and Adri a local islander who have set up the camp in partnership with the main aim of doing it right. So all the staff are local. The food is traditional, the boats are local style, in essence big outrigger canoes built up a bit into whip fast speedboats. We were soon right at home in hammocks drinking coconut juice from freshly hacked coconuts. There’s nothing quite like the decompress of long haul travel into a stunning tropical location. All the stresses evaporate. We arrived at lunchtime and after a quick nasi goreng we were digging through bags to get on it as the evening session was on. Tom B and Bearman had been there a week already and were frothing that a certain left would be cooking… And it was.
From there on the next ten days were a blur of boats, surf checks, sessions, rice, chili, beaches, coconuts, Bintangs, laughs, snoozes, shaman and good times. Groundhog day in the nicest possible way: Up early with a weapon’s grade coffee or three in the half light of dawn. Talking story with the early risers like Oli and Stoker while marvelling at Mitch’s commitment to the dawn yoga session. All while knowing full well the grom bungalow of Angus, Gearoid, Tass and Emily wouldn’t surface until they could smell breakfast. Various crew would stumble through yawning until sunrise, breakfast and more coffee got us ready for the early sesh.
Figuring out where to go is key in the Mentawais and the land camps, at least those near Playgrounds and Siberut island, have a huge advantage over the charter boats. Speedboats mean being able to check heaps of spots fast. If it’s not on or it’s busy and there are other options you can just open up the outboards and blaze on. In a charter boat you’re stuck at walking speed crawling to another spot at snails pace; unless you’re towing a speedboat also. So once you know the swell size and wind you can shortlist the go to spots and get on it. Matungou has two boats so we often split up to not overcrowd anyone spot.
As for the crowds? Much has been made of the Ments being ‘over’ mainly by pros and photographers who’ve grown far to used to it being their personal studio. We had waves to ourselves and we surfed with other crew. At no point was it 140 dudes like at Uluwatu. Which was how many guys were there pretty much a year or so after it broke to the world in the seventies and have been ever since. The busiest any spot got was about twenty guys, which as long as everyone’s playing ball is fine. Of course some people don’t. Older crew and some more competitive cultures see the polite British trait of queuing and waiting one’s turn as a reason to paddle past and be a dick. These folk you can only explain that taking turns is the adult way of doing things. Or flick them the vees behind their backs.
Boat versus camps also means you are stuck in one zone at a camp. On a good boat you can roam from Thunders up to Maccas then HTs then Playgrounds. Camp wise you’re limited to one of those four zones. Pros and cons all round but with a strong wind blowing for weeks of this season being on a boat hasn’t been a barrel of laughs.
As crews go we couldn’t have asked for better. In no particular order:
Tom Butler: Big wave sensei who prowled the line-up on bigger days with a calm confidence. Anything under twenty foot is just fun to him now so his game in hairy barrels was on point. Nailed a crazy sequence the first afternoon when all I wanted to do was curl up in a hammock.
Adam Griffiths: First time I’ve seen a longboarder in the Ments and boy did Bearman kill it. Total grace, flow and otherworldly reading of waves mixed up with big turns and deep tubes. Plenty of toes on the nose time.
Alan Stokes: It’s been nine years since we hit the islands together and not much as changed. Still the eternal grommet frothing to surf and loving every minute. Cursed with some brutal luck in some of the left barrels that resolutely refused to barrel for him.
Emily Williams: Welsh grom with a big future, christened ‘Sheggings’ after her fair Welsh skin got a bit burnt and she surfed in leggings. Will never hear the end of it. One to watch in the future.
Mitch Corbett: Recovering from a broken back and cruising. Mitch is a proper Zen master now. Certain of his place in the world and how he wants to live as balanced as possibly in all ways. A pleasure to be around.
Corinne Evans: Newquay’s busiest girl surfer. Fingers in many pies promoting women’s surfing. Sunny, radiant, frothing with a smile that could kickstart the sun.
Gearoid McDaid: Ireland’s biggest hope for the big leagues since I’ve been documenting surfing. Actually said, after one too many rice/noodle concoctions, ‘Can’t we just have a big plate of potatoes?’ Funny thing was next day we did… Along with Angus were the comedy double act of the trip.
Tassy Swallow: I’ve known Tass since forever and it’s always a pleasure hanging out with St Ives finest. Had a good dig at some of the heavier spots and owns a mean hack.
Oli Adams: A man reborn. Since his operation back in the spring Oli is a new human. On a constant upward arc in his performance and wondering where it can take him. The difference between this and our snow trip earlier in the year, which was post-op, is huge.
Angus Scotney: Mangoose is a big unit. But an affable, laconic, wise-cracking, smart ass. In a good way. He’s like Jordy in that you wonder how such a big kid can surf so loose and fast.
We didn’t score all time Mentawais. But as you can see even fair to middling is still hellishly good fun. It’s been an odd season, the theory being El Nino related, as there’s been heaps of typhoons north of Indo so sucking in a constant south wind as opposed to the normal slack winds and glassy conditions. Lucky for us the lion’s share of waves near the camp were offshore in southerlies.
As to the Ments being over? Far from it. This is my third trip out there and it’s still as magical as it was before. In fact I think I liked it more this time. My suspicions about land camps, based on a very small sample admittedly, have been proved wrong. Working in partnership with the locals improving their lot in life and helping out where possible, especially in Dr Ollie’s case dishing out medical care to all and sundry, is how things should be. Matungou is doing it right. Building rooms and boats using traditional techniques, serving local food, hanging with the local crew and them benefitting directly from you being there is how it should be. Everyone wins. Ask anyone that was there it was a wonderful experience. To visit the edge of the world and not be in the bubble of a boat is the future.
This article originally appeared in print in Carve issue 165
BIG THANKS TO: Luke Hart, Ben Jones and Lee Bartlett at Fourth Surfboards (www.fourthsurfboards.com) for organising and shepherding the whole deal, Dr Ollie, Adri and the crew at Matungou (www.matungou.com) for an awesome stay and perfect experience and lastly Anthony ‘Mr B’ Butler (www.mrbproductions.co.uk) for swimming more than any human should and nailing the moving images for the associated film, that and being a pleasure to share a room with.
If you’ve spent any time in Thurso when it’s on you’ll have no doubt come across the genial gent that is Chris Clarke. He’s out at Thurso when it’s big, mean and cooking and until recently at the more surreptitious heavy spots by himself … Not any more.
I bumped into him on a remote cliff path as he was running back to his van to get his beaten up slab board, a dinged, noseless, wreck of a beast that has taken it’s fair share of lickings. Turns out he’s not allowed to surf the slabs by himself anymore by her indoors, and as some boogers had just ventured out he was switching reefs from a mellower one for the near dry death-box that was the author of his demise. The slab ban is for good reason, he’s now sporting a pirate worthy scar on his cheek that adds to his roguish charm. As shown below.
If you want to see what it looked like when fresh, and I repeat, it’s not for those who don’t like the sight of gore or consider themselves squeamish, then scroll to the bottom of the post…
Simple question: what the hell happened?
Well, I was in the water it was fairly chunky and I had just pulled off a wave and had taken my time getting back on my board to paddle back out. So I wasn’t quite ready for the impact of the next set wave. I was just a bit relaxed about the whole thing to be fair and lost my board in the white water.
Then at some point in the rough and tumble me and the board apparently were travelling in opposite directions quite fast. Still not sure which bit got me, but it was a glancing blow, so maybe fins or nose. I could see blood clouding the water before even coming up for the first time … so I knew it was a proper cut.
At that point I was starting to worry that I had taken my eye out but did a quick vision check and could see the shore. I didn’t do the usual paddle back out and ask, ‘Are there any flappy bits?’
I just bolted for the car park where Hamper and Micah were about to get changed and asked the obvious question:
‘So who’s taking me to hospital?’
Hamper’s face was a picture. He went a bit white as he jumped in the driver’s seat and Micah held the towel on to staunch the flow. It was pretty funny as it turns out Hamps doesn’t like blood so much. So the boys took me off to Thurso hospital, they did not want anything to do with it, so they kindly gave me an ambulance ride over to Wick hospital for a few hours until they decided they would not do it either. So I was away down the road for two hours to the glittering metropolis that is Inverness.
Once there an ace doctor, she was actually a dental surgeon, was expecting to have to knock me out and I’d have to stay in over night. In the end it was pretty simple.
She asked, ‘How squeamish are you?’
I said, ‘Not so much.’
So she just got on with cleaning it, picking all the fibreglass bits out and stitching it all back together. Dental surgeons have the best stitching skills it turns out. I got the nurse to take the open wound photo because she said you could see the top of my cheek bone which shows how close it was to my eye. The doctor got it all stitched back up super quick, 15 of the blighters, and I even managed to blag a lift back up the road with the ambulance that took me down there!
How did the good lady take it?
I rang the wife, who was only home three weeks after having our daughter, from the ambulance to tell her I was off to get some stitches and probably was not going to be home that night and that it was not that bad so don’t worry … But then Neil rang her in a panic to try and find out what happened having heard rumours of carnage, then Hamper came round to see her to prep her for the worst I think … ha ha! He showed her a photo of the gash at which point she rang me kind of sarcastically saying, ‘Only a small cut eh? you bloody idiot. Oh well at least you don’t rely on your looks for your livelihood,’ thankfully Helen is not one for freaking out and as a horse rider herself knows that everybody pays their dues from time to time.
A couple of things I have taken from this are not to surf by myself anymore … and to hang on to my board like I mean it. I would also point out that although this was my own board people need to remember their own board when in the line up. Already this year there have been a number of incidents of tourists being in the wrong place inside at Thurso and a few board to body collisions. It doesn’t take a whole lot to do some proper damage so hang on to your boards and get out the way if someone is on a wave and don’t ditch just paddle for the white water man up and take it. So if someone gets mad because you’re floundering on the inside maybe it’s because they’re a bit scared of what can happen.
First featured as Clarkey Capped (a rather obscure Brasseye ref) in Carve issue 166.
He’s just beaten Mason Ho in the semi of the Billabong Pipe Masters… If Adriano lost to Mason he would have lost the title to Mick by a mere 450 points, but he maintained the pressure and used his years of experience to hold his nerve in a low scoring heat. He’s become the second Brazilian to win the title after years of being a danger man. He faces the other Brazilian world title holder, Gabriel Medina, in the final shortly. He dedicated his win to his brother who purchased his first surfboard for him for seven dollars and his friend the late Ricardo dos Santos.
In a phenomenally tense day of competition ADS main title rival Mick Fanning went down to Medina in the first semi-final, ironic as by making the semi Mick snuffed out Gabriel’s title chance. By winning the semi Gabe also became the first Brazilian to win the Triple Crown. Mick led for the duration in wonky small Pipe but Gabe pulled an air out of the bag in the final minutes to flip the lead his way.
Huge congratulations ADS, you deserve it and you can watch the Gabe v Adriano final here.
Adriano added the Billabong Pipe Masters title to his day of days!
‘It’s an extra bonus, to be a Pipeline champ like Jamie and Kelly. There’s no words to describe how I feel right now. To be a world champion and to surf against my friend in the final. The ocean didn’t co-operate today but it’s still Pipe. I’m happy to finish the day well. Just like to say thanks to the fans here in Hawaii.’
‘Gabriel showed me the way to get here. How to be a world champion. Thank you so much. To share this with him in the final is a blessing.’
After what can only be called the most dramatic day in pro surfing history, Brazilian Adriano de Souza (BRA) has clinched the 2015 World Surf League (WSL) Title at the world-renowned Banzai Pipeline in Oahu, Hawaii. In the process, he also became the first Brazilian to win the Billabong Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons.
Surfing for ten years amongst the world’s elite and setting the stage for the rise of the ‘Brazilian Storm,’ De Souza’s Title clinching performance came with a significant wave of emotions, as he dedicated the victory to fallen compatriot Ricardo dos Santos who died earlier this year.
“It’s an incredible feeling and so special in dedication to my good friend Ricardo dos Santos,” de Souza said. “I have this tattoo in memory of him — he had the same tattoo that said ‘Strength, Balance and Love,’ and that’s all I needed to win this World Title. This is all in dedication to my brother as well, who bought me my first surfboard for seven dollars and now I’m on top of the world. What a dream to be a Pipeline Champion Master like Jamie [O’Brien] and Kelly [Slater] and Bede Durbidge, just so many names going through my brain now. There’s no words to describe how I’m feeling right now.”
The final day of the 2015 Samsung Galaxy WSL Championship Tour began with three contenders in the hunt for the world surfing crown – Mick Fanning (AUS), Gabriel Medina (BRA) and de Souza. Fanning’s Quarterfinal win over 11-time WSL Champion Kelly Slater (USA) ousted Medina from the race, but a late big air maneuver from Medina in their Semifinal eliminated the Australian from competition, crowning De Souza the new World Champion.
Taking down an explosive wildcard in Mason Ho (HAW) for a Semifinal win, de Souza claimed the coveted World Title after a loss earlier in the year at the Moche Rip Curl Pro had him doubting his chances heading into Pipeline.
“About midway through the year I thought Mick deserved the World Title more than me,” de Souza said. “He’s such a strong man and a three-time World Champ battling me for my first title was scary. I just wanted to give my best wishes to Mick and his mom — I had such a mix of emotions, but the day of my life has arrived.”
Fanning came into Pipeline having won his first-ever Hawaiian event at the Vans World Cup of Surfing and looked to be the favorite to win the World Title. But after being eliminated by Medina, his Title chances were left to Ho who couldn’t seal it for the three-time WSL Champion despite Fanning’s incredible win over Kelly Slater (USA).
“The energy’s been amazing walking down to the shore,” Fanning said. “I’m almost in tears every time I ‘ve paddled out and I’m just kind of going with the emotions. I had a friend tell me once that we can do anything and you just have to do it the best you can and stay true to yourself and things will happen.”
Claiming Runner-up status at the Billabong Pipe Masters for the second, consecutive year and the first Brazilian to earn a Vans Triple Crown of Surfing title, Gabriel Medina (BRA) achieved a phenomenal comeback after a tough start to 2015. Turning his season around at the Billabong Pro Tahiti with a Runner-Up finish, the defending WSL Champion stood proud hoisting his well-deserved trophy.
“I’m really stoked to be the first Brazilian to win a Triple Crown – it was actually my goal coming to Hawaii,” Medina said. “This year has been difficult for me when I lost the first four events and everyone said I wouldn’t have a shot at the World Title. I’m so thankful to come here and be a part of the World Title race. I’m so happy to make the Final, it was a tough heat against Mick and I got the score I needed in the last minute and I couldn’t ask for anything better. I’m so excited for Adriano to win his first World Title and Pipe Master – I know he’s been dreaming for ages and he did everything he could.”
It was Medina who ended C.J. Hobgood’s (USA) final run at a Pipe Master title, earning a Quarterfinal appearance in his last WSL Championship Tour competition. Winning a World Title in 2001, the 36-year-old Florida native spent 17 years on the dream tour – giving fans and fellow competitors so many fond memories to look back on.
“You’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with and I’ve spent the last 17 years of my life surrounding myself with, who I think, are not only the best surfers in the world, but the best humans,” Hobgood said. “I think this surfing platform is not just better than when I started, it’s 1,000 percent better so I’m happy to leave. The surfers are better, their characters and I just want to thank WSL for not only giving me this platform to speak right now but the stage out there to perform and do what I love. I’m fortunate enough that they work with us and continue to work closely with us, and hopefully it just keeps getting better and better because I’m going to be at home watching – so I’m going to be demanding the best. I just want to thank you guys, I’m stoked to get to work with Salty Crew now – thank you, love you…bye.”
De Souza’s 2015 Samsung Galaxy WSL CT Results:
Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast: 3rd
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach: 2nd
Drug Aware Margaret River Pro: WINNER
Oi Rio Pro: 13th
Fiji Pro: 13th
J-Bay Open: 5th
Billabong Pro Tahiti: 13th
Hurley Pro at Trestles: 2nd
Quiksilver Pro France: 3rd
Moche Rip Curl Pro Portugal: 13th
Billabong Pipe Masters: WINNER
De Souza joins Carissa Moore (HAW) as 2015 WSL Champion; Moore won her title at Maui earlier this month.
“December 2015 has been the biggest month ever in the history of professional surfing,” said Paul Speaker, CEO of the World Surf League. “The Billabong Pipe Masters achieved the largest audience and greatest live viewership in the history of the sport, and we are so grateful to the athletes, fans and our partners for delivering a season to remember. Our congratulations go out to Adriano de Souza on an incredible Pipeline performance and first World Title, as well as maiden Pipe Masters title, and Gabriel Medina for claiming Brazil’s first Vans Triple Crown of Surfing title. We’d also like to extend our deepest condolences to the Fanning family and their tragic loss, and best wishes to Bede Durbidge and Owen Wright, their families, on their serious injuries toward a full recovery.”
The world’s best surfers will return in 2016 with the kick-off event at Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia in March.
Wow, just wow. Last night Pipe went from morning wonk to kegs of doom and delivered the storied kind of day the WSL sorely need to back up the spectacle that was Pe’ahi.
Bede got clobbered, careers ended, wildcards failed, world title hopes crumbled, judging got questioned and through it all Mick Fanning, who unknown to us viewing public at the time, was surfing having just received the crushing news his older brother had died overnight. If he wasn’t having enough of a year of it as it was. To even surf, let alone compete, at the highest level, in one of the most dangerous waves on the planet is testament to his grit, resolve and all round champion quality. We can’t even begin to understand what he is going through, especially as he lost another brother tragically when he was young.
In surfing there’s often talk of surfers having physical bravado and steely resolve to surf big waves. Mick has that in spades. His mental control is otherworldly. Not only did he surf he made it through. He smashed it. Beating Jamie’O, arguably the most dangerous wildcard at Pipe and then won the superheat against an on fire John Florence and Kelly. Leaving himself in the quarter finals, of course against Kelly, with a World Title in sight. Adriano and Gabriel are still in the mix but Mick needs to get knocked for them to have a chance.
Mick is our surfer of the year in the new issue out this week. He was before yesterday’s events. It counts double now. We’re honoured to have him on the cover. He’s a kind, humble, funny, genuine, nice human that just happens to have mad skills on a surfboard.
The WSL tag for the end of year story is ‘You can’t script this’ they couldn’t have been more on the crystal ball if they tried…
WSL PRESS RELEASE
A phenomenal day of the world’s best surfers battling solid eight-to-ten foot (2.5 – 3 metre) waves at the Banzai Pipeline has whittled the WSL Title contenders down to three and the Billabong Pipe Masters contenders down to nine, setting up an epic finish to the 2015 season tomorrow.
The final stop of the 2015 Samsung Galaxy WSL Championship Tour season as well as the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing (a WSL Specialty Series), the Billabong Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons enjoyed a marathon day of competition, witnessing perfect scores and terrifying injuries from the world’s best surfers.
The World Title race is now down to three competitors as current Jeep Rankings’ Leader Mick Fanning (AUS), Adriano de Souza (BRA) and Gabriel Medina (BRA) are through to the Quarterfinals. Julian Wilson (AUS) and World No.2 Filipe Toledo (BRA) are both out of title contention, having been eliminated from competition in Round 3.
Fanning came into the most anticipated heat of Round 3, facing off against 2004 Pipe Master Jamie O’Brien (HAW) in building Pipeline conditions. Finding an 8.47 on his opening ride, Fanning held off O’Brien for the majority of the heat – comboing the former Pipe Master by the final horn.
“It was always going to be a difficult heat with Jamie [O’Brien] being one of the best guys out here and surfing it the most,” Fanning said. “I just got lucky at the start when Michel [Bourez] and Kelly [Slater] sort of let me go on that first one and I just kept trying to improve that backup score. It’s pretty amazing that we travel around the world and when it comes down to this moment to see all these people out here, there’s so many from Australia and all around the world, we just want to put on a good show and can’t thank everyone enough for their support.”
After taking on O’Brien, Fanning drew two Pipeline specialists in Kelly Slater (USA) and John John Florence (HAW) for an incredible Round 4 match-up. After what pundits are calling “the heat of the year,” with all three surfers exchanging high scores, Fanning came out on top with a 17.30 heat total to earn his place into the Quarterfinals.
“I can’t really put it into words,” Fanning said. “When you’re paddling out against John John [Florence] and Kelly [Slater], two of the greatest tube riders, I just thought that when the waves come, I’ll do my best. It’s been a huge day. I’ve got some personal stuff going on at home. It’s so heavy to talk about right now and I’m just trying to focus on the water.”
Keeping pace with Fanning, current World No.3 Adriano de Souza (BRA) earned a direct pass to his first Pipe Masters Quarterfinal appearance after surviving a Round 3 bout with Glenn Hall (IRL) and coming out on top in Round 4 over Josh Kerr (AUS) and Adam Melling (AUS). The 10-year CT veteran is seeking a maiden WSL Title and knows exactly what needs to be done.
“I feel blessed for the day we have and I’m so happy to make the two heats – it’s an incredible feeling to make the Quarterfinals and keep my World Title dreams alive,” De Souza said. “There are a lot of people talking and I’m not really worried about it. Basically I just need to do my job out there, find my waves and get out of the barrels – that’s my focus out here and it definitely has improved. The last few years I’ve put in a lot of work over here and I just wanted to get the result today.”
“I liked Mick’s approach against Jamie and no matter what if he won or lost, Jamie is still the man to me,” De Souza added. “Coming up against a guy like that I think Mick just surfed amazing and when I saw that it lit a fire under me. Can’t wait for the Quarterfinal and I think everyone will be ready.”
Though his Title hopes remain slim, reigning WSL Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA) looked unbeatable throughout the day – winning both his Round 3 and Round 4 heats over some formidable opponents. Taking down Jordy Smith (ZAF) in the opening heat of Round 3, Medina then continued to charge through Round 4 over C.J. Hobgood (USA) and Keanu Asing (HAW).
“I like these type of waves and I don’t feel pressure from the World Title because these guys are a little bit ahead of me,” Medina said. “I just focus on my heat, my job and this is great even though it’s not Finals day, a lot is happening and it’s really exciting. I’ve been spending a lot of time in the water and it feels good to sneak some good ones – I got my best two under priority and I’m stoked to make it through. I was worried about not having waves today and they showed up so I was stoked we were able to keep going.”
Mason Ho (HAW), Billabong Pipe Masters wildcard, created a massive upset this morning in eliminating current World No. 2 Filipe Toledo (BRA) from the event and the WSL Title race.
“It didn’t go as I expected but I just figured I would get anything that came and it almost didn’t work out,” Ho said. “Filipe and all these guys on tour are just so smart with the whole game and priority I just realized you don’t really have to go get that busy. I was just learning throughout the whole heat and I was bummed we didn’t get to perform to the top of what we can do.”
Ho continued his impressive form and opened up Heat 3, Round 4 heat against former Pipe Masters Joel Parkinson (AUS) and Jeremy Flores (FRA) with a 10-point ride, helping the young Hawaiian advance directly into the Quarterfinals.
Toledo’s WSL Title run came to an end after a phenomenal 2015 CT season, claiming three event wins at the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast, Oi Rio Pro and the Moche Rip Curl Pro – earning a perfect 10 at each contest. The 20-year-old is poised for another big year next season after gaining a wealth of knowledge contending for a Title.
“This has been an amazing year for sure – it’s been the best one of my career,” Toledo said. “I had a lot of fun the whole time with the boys fighting for the World Title and I had my chance. It didn’t happen this year but next year I will be back stronger. It’s my first year competing in the World Title race and just really happy to come to Hawaii with a chance to win.
“I really want to improve myself at this wave, Tahiti and Fiji, so that’s where I go from here,” Toledo added. “I learned a bunch this year and just want to thank everyone for this year – especially the boys competing and pushing me to my best.”
Julian Wilson (AUS), one of the form surfers of the season, was also eliminated from the 2015 WSL Title race at the hands of compatriot Adam Melling (AUS). Melling, who entered the Billabong Pipe Masters rated 26th, is through to the Quarterfinals and hunting a requalification bid for 2016.
The incredible force of Pipeline was felt today as numerous excellent scores, including three 10s, were posted, but the world-renowned wave also unleashed its wrath with former Pipe Master Bede Durbidge (AUS) suffering a horrific wipeout. After sticking a heavy drop on his opening wave, Durbidge couldn’t hold on inside the barrel and was thrown onto the shallow reef below.
“He was taken to the hospital after they were able to get him on the beach and he’s received some scans which revealed two breaks in his pelvis that will require some surgery,” WSL Commissioner Kieren Perrow said. “It’s something that you never want to see on a day like today but we all know it’s a possibility of happening. The good news is he will be okay but it’s going to be a recovery process and we just send our best to him and his family.”
Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow morning at 7am to reassess conditions.
When competition resumes, up first will be Josh Kerr (AUS) against Jeremy Flores (FRA) in the final heat of Round 5.
Surfline, official forecasters for the World Surf League, are calling for:
Long period NW swell will be on the rise through the day on Tuesday with a peak in surf late Tuesday through the first half of Wednesday. The swell/surf will trend down steadily through the second half of the week with minor leftovers by the weekend. E Trades rebuild Tue and become strong and gusty for the second half of the week.
BILLABONG PIPE MASTERS QUARTERFINAL MATCH-UPS:
QF 1: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. C.J. Hobgood (USA) QF 2: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Kelly Slater (USA
QF 3: Mason Ho (HAW) vs. Adam Melling (AUS) QF 4: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. TBD
BILLABONG PIPE MASTERS ROUND 5 RESULTS:
Heat 1: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 13.34 def. John John Florence (HAW) 9.76 Heat 2: Kelly Slater (USA) 17.07 def. Keanu Asing (HAW) 9.77 Heat 3: Adam Melling (AUS) 5.17 def. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 4.20 REMAINING BILLABONG PIPE MASTERS ROUND 5 MATCH-UP:
Day one of four at the Pipeline ticked off*. A wild and wooly trials saw heroics and oddness, Aussie grom Jack Robbo used his West Oz honed tube smarts to take the win and JOB is joining him in the main event. So the top seeds have Robbo, JOB or Bruce Irons to contend with. No biggy…
The first heat may be a record breaker, only two waves ridden, both take off to pull off due to close out. But that was enough to see Jack Freestone and Griffin Colapinto into the next round. So Jack advanced with a one wave score of 0.87?!?!? A record surely?
Get well soon Owen Wright who’s been hospitalised after feeling wonky after a man sized Rick-rolling at huge Pipe. More on this as we get it. He’s okay and being checked out by the medics.
*Event permit bureaucracy in Hawaii and many events/limited window means the WSL gets four on days to complete the event. So no half days or late calls. It’s either on for the day or it’s not.
WSL PRESS RELEASE
Jack Robinson (AUS), 17, claimed the Pipe Invitational this afternoon, besting a specialist field of 32 to take the prestigious win and advance, alongside Runner-up and former Pipe Master, Jamie O’Brien (HAW), into the Billabong Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons.
The final event of the 2015 Samsung Galaxy World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT) and the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, the Billabong Pipe Masters In Memory of Andy Irons is a highly-competitive event that pits some of the world’s best surfers against one of the world’s most renowned waves.
Solid 10-to-15 foot (3 – 5 metre) surf steamed through the world-famous Banzai Pipeline all day, providing the backdrop for incredible barrels and horrendous wipeouts by some of the best Pipeline surfers on the planet.
In the end, it was 17-year-old phenom, Robinson, that came away with the win – turning in one excellent score of a 9.43 to claim the victory over O’Brien, Mason Ho (HAW) and Kekoa Cazimero (HAW). Leading the front of youthful standouts including Griffin Colapinto (USA), Kalani David (HAW), and Luke Shepardson (HAW), Robinson was in-form, collecting impressive scores throughout the event, winning each of his four heats, and has his eyes now set on the main event.
“I just wanted to get the best waves and go against the best guys but the trials were so gnarly,” Robinson said. “Any one of the trialists could take down a CT guy so I’m just stoked to get a few waves against them. It was great to have my dad here and I had a lot of fun – just wanted to go and get it done. I’d be stoked to get a couple of drainers, that’s what it’s all about here and it’d be great to get into a few heats.”
Robinson won the Vans Triple Crown Rookie of the Year award at Sunset last week during the Vans World Cup of Surfing and has had a phenomenal performance in Hawaii this season. With a fourth place finish in the HIC Pro, the official Vans Triple Crown qualifying event, the young Australian has quickly become a fan favorite.
Wade Carmichael (AUS), winner of the Hawaiian Pro, leads the Vans Triple Crown ratings ahead of defending WSL World Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA), Dusty Payne (HAW), Mick Fanning (AUS) and John John Florence (HAW) respectively. Carmichael will surf against Medina and Keanu Asing (HAW) once the Billabong Pipe Masters commences.
Claiming Runner-up, 2004 Pipe Master and local charger Jamie O’Brien (HAW) punched his ticket into this year’s main event after a near-miss last year. Known for his fearless approach to one of the heaviest waves in the world, O’Brien will now have a chance to show his prowess against the world’s best.
“I narrowly missed out last year coming in third so I made it a goal here to get second and I’m excited with the forecast looking really good,” O’Brien said. “I’m really stoked with everyone that came down today in support of the trials and excited we got to put on a good event in some unruly conditions at times. I think today was the hard day coming into a lot of good heats. Guys were surfing great and every heat was like a Final. The best thing about the main event is we’re only surfing one or two heats a day and that’ll give us time to relax – whereas today we had to surf four times and that’s really draining so I’m excited to make the main event.”
Turning heads during his Pipe Invitational run, local young gun Luke Shepardson (HAW), 20, posted the event’s only perfect 10 in Heat 8 of Round 1, but couldn’t find the scores needed to advance from the Quarterfinals. Finding a pristine Pipeline bomb, Shepardson locked into the barrel with equipment made for these conditions – beating multiple sections and finding a clean exit.
“I knew it was a really, really good wave,” said Luke Shepardson. “And I thought it’s either a 10 or a 1. I was super stoked I made it. I’m riding a 6’10, I was thinking I would ride my 6’8, but I think the 6’10 helped a lot. As I bottom turned into it there was a warble in the wave and the board almost skidded out – the couple extra inches held the rail and helped me get out of it. I think that was my best wave ever at Pipe. It’s the best feeling I ever got, especially because it’s in a contest and the whole world is watching.”
Three-time WSL Champion and current Jeep Rankings’ Leader Mick Fanning (AUS), Filipe Toledo (BRA), Adriano de Souza (BRA), reigning WSL Champion Medina, Owen Wright (AUS) and defending Pipe Master Julian Wilson (AUS) are all in the running for the 2015 WSL Title, which will be decided at the final stop of the 2015 Samsung Galaxy WSL Championship Tour, the Billabong Pipe Masters.
Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) and Matt Banting (AUS) have withdrawn from the event. They’ve been replaced by former Pipe Master Bruce Irons (HAW) and current Vans Triple Crown ratings’ leader Carmichael in the main event.
Irons has drawn Fanning and compatriot Sebastian Zietz (HAW) while Carmichael will take on Medina and Hawaiian rookie Keanu Asing (HAW) in Round 1 of competition.
Organizers will reconvene tomorrow morning at 7:00am to reassess conditions.
Surfline, Official Forecasters for the World Surf League, are calling for:
Large WNW swell peaks early Wednesday morning, with Pipe expected to be mainly maxed out. However, watch for the surf to gradually become more tame through the day, especially over the afternoon. The swell eases a couple notches for Thursday (but still solid) and shifts more NW’erly in angle. The swell continues to ease over Friday and the weekend. Breezy ENE veering East Trades through Wed/Thurs, then backing off some over Friday and veering ESE. Watching for a possible good size NW swell for around the 15th-17th.
The Billabong Pipe Masters will be webcast LIVE on WorldSurfLeague.com and on the WSL app.
Late news: Owen Wright has been taken to hospital at Queens in Honolulu after getting rolled during a freesurf. Word is concussion, get well soon big man.
PIPE INVITATIONAL FINAL RESULTS:
1 – Jack Robinson (AUS) 9.43
2 – Jamie O’Brien (HAW) 8.70
3 – Mason Ho (HAW) 5.53
4 – Kekoa Cazimero (HAW) 1.50
PIPE INVITATIONAL SEMIFINAL RESULTS:
SF 1: Jack Robinson (AUS) 13.00, Mason Ho (HAW) 11.70, Griffin Colapinto (USA) 7.53, Kalani David (HAW) 4.23
SF 2: Jamie O’Brien (HAW) 18.00, Kekoa Cazimero (HAW) 9.34, Myles Padaca (HAW) 2.63, Nathan Florence (HAW) 1.57
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