The WSL Juggernaut Is Rolling Back In To Action…

The WSL Juggernaut Is Rolling Back In To Action…

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If competitive surfing floats your boat you’ll be glad to know the WSL kicks back in to gear tomorrow. The trials for the Quik/Roxy Pro start on March 9 and the main event ‘Quiks’ off on the tenth (so, so sorry about that).
The hangovers from the annual WSL awards should just about have abated and the Brazilians must be rubbing their hands together in gleeful anticipation looking forward to defending their position as kings of the castle. The Brazilian storm took home the silverware for Men’s World Champ/ Rookie of the Year/ Breakthrough Performer / Junior Champ / Move of the Year (guys and gals) which if isn’t domination I don’t what is.

•So will Kelly make this the last hurrah? One more year to show the young bucks he’s still got it before retiring into an Outer Known world of wave pool perfection and picking chia seeds out of his perfect teeth.
•Can anyone stop the momentum of Gabriel Medina, Filipe, Adriano and the new Brazilian generation?
•Is Adriano well bummed with Slater totally pissing on his title bonfire with the drop of his pool?
•Is this the year John Florence finally gets his head round a title campaign now he’s finished making very expensive films?
•Can Jordy, Julian, Taj and other assorted ‘should have a world title supposedly’ sorts get it together?
•Can we make a law banning the use of the words ‘knifing’ and ‘spicy’ by the commentary team?
•Will any sea life try and steal the show again, perhaps a giant squid attack at Supertubes for a bit of variety?
•Will the WSL make it to the end of the year before it runs out of money? Will pay per view ever be a thing and would you pay?
So many questions…
One thing’s for sure it’ll be entertaining. That after all is the whole point. We live in an era of unparalleled access and the webcasts are hitting sublime levels of production. Let’s just hope Mama Nature comes to the party and gives us some banging conditions for the guys and girls to show their best.

ps: If you’re a Fantasy Surfer head get your team sorted asap and the get involved with the Carve Surf League clubhouse.

WSL AWARDS

Heat of the Year: Mick Fanning (AUS)/John John Florence (HAW)/Kelly Slater (USA) at Banzai Pipeline & Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS)/Carissa Moore (HAW) at Honolulu Bay
Move of the Year: Gabriel Medina (BRA) and Silvana Lima (BRA)
Wave of the Year: Owen Wright (AUS) and Carissa Moore (HAW)
WSL Junior Champions: Lucas Silver (BRA) and Isabella Nichols (AUS)
WSL Longboard Champions: Piccolo Clemente (PER) and Rachel Tilly (USA)
WSL Big Wave Tour Champion: Greg Long (USA)
CT Breakthrough Performers: Filipe Toledo (BRA) and Courtney Conlogue (USA)
CT Rookies of the Year: Italo Ferreira (BRA) and Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW)
WSL Women’s Champion: Carissa Moore (HAW)
WSL Men’s Champion: Adriano de Souza (BRA)

Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast Round 1 Match-Ups:

Heat 1: Italo Ferreira (BRA), Keanu Asing (HAW), Ryan Callinan (AUS)
Heat 2: Julian Wilson (AUS), Michel Bourez (PYF), Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 3: Filipe Toledo (BRA), Jadson Andre (BRA), Stuart Kennedy (AUS)
Heat 4: Gabriel Medina (BRA), Caio Ibelli (BRA), Sebastian Zietz (HAW)
Heat 5: Mick Fanning (AUS), Matt Banting (AUS), TBD (One of these is Mikey Wright, other’s trials winner)
Heat 6: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Kolohe Andino (USA), TBD
Heat 7: Jeremy Flores (FRA), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Davey Cathels (AUS)
Heat 8: Kelly Slater (USA), Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Conner Coffin (USA)
Heat 9: Nat Young (USA), Kai Otton (AUS), Alex Ribeiro (BRA)
Heat 10: Josh Kerr (AUS), Taj Burrow (AUS), Kanoa Igarashi (USA)
Heat 11: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Wiggly Dantas (BRA), Miguel Pupo (BRA)
Heat 12: Joel Parkinson (AUS), John John Florence (HAW), Jack Freestone (AUS)

Roxy Pro Gold Coast Round 1 Match-Ups:

Heat 1: Tyler Wright (AUS), Johanne Defay (FRA), Alessa Quizon (HAW)
Heat 2: Bianca Buitendag (ZAF), Nikki Van Dijk (AUS), Coco Ho (HAW)
Heat 3: Carissa Moore (HAW), Chelsea Tuach (BRB), TBD
Heat 4: Courtney Conlogue (USA), Sage Erickson (USA), Bronte Macaulay (AUS)
Heat 5: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Malia Manuel (HAW), Laura Enever (AUS)
Heat 6: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW), Keely Andrew (AUS)

John Florence Wins The Eddie Aikau!

John Florence Wins The Eddie Aikau!

John John Florence of Hawaii (pictured red) takes off on a steap wave alongside Mason Ho of Hawaii (black) during Round 2 of the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau at Waimea Bay on Thursday February 25, 2016. Florence posted the highest scores of the day to win the event.

So. Eddie went. For the first time since 2009 the most famous big wave event in the world finally went down at the renowned Waimea Bay.

Pe’ahi has stolen the spotlight in recent years as the bay slumbered. Was the Eddie still relevant now paddle performance was hitting new heights on the neighbouring island of Maui and around the world? In a word: yes.

Waimea’s boil ridden ledge is a unique challenge and the waves from the #Brockswell, named in honour of recently departed legend Brock Little, were the perfect answer. Maxing Waimea, frequent close out sets. Best in 40-years according Eddie’s little bro Clyde who still donned a rashie at 66. It was riveting viewing. Waimea in fugly mood with the world’s best big wave riders keen to honour Eddie and Brock meant for some heroic moments and a good few wipeouts that had to be watched through the fingers. The highlights reel isn’t ready yet but there’s plenty on the WSL YouTube channel.
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The early money was on Dorian with a side bet on John Florence and Kelly. But it was the old guard of Ross Clark Jones, still killing it at fifty something,  that got an early start. In the end John, from just down the Kam Highway, took the honour. Kind of fitting, he is the new Hawaiian royalty. So the dust settles and we wait for next season. Or maybe another six years before the Eddie goes again…

Official WSL Press Release

John John Florence (HAW) brought a new style and a new generation to big wave surfing today by winning the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational, a World Surf League Specialty Event, in waves of up to 60-feet. Florence won $75,000 – the biggest purse in Big Wave riding, with a 4-wave total of 301 out of 400 points.

“I was excited just to be part of the event,” said Florence. “I was so nervous, I thought, oh gosh, I just gotta get through this day and hopefully get a couple of waves!

“I was riding my bike down here this-morning in the dark and just the energy of how many people were parked all the way down the street. I’ve lived here my whole life and I’ve never seen it like that. Walking down the beach, like Uncle Clyde was saying, people just screaming, and the energy was so crazy. I’ve never been a part of an event like this. It’s definitely the highlight of my life for sure.
John John Florence of Hawaii (pictured red) scored the highest total over two rounds of competition to win the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau at Waimea Bay on Thursday February 25, 2016.

“Biggest of all, I want to say thanks to the Aikau family and Quiksilver for putting on this amazing event. I’ve only seen it run a couple of times in my life so to be a part of it, to be surfing in it, and to actually win it is such a dream come true…against all these legends. These guys are my heroes since I’ve been growing up. And thanks to my mom and my family and all my good friends who are here.”
John John Florence of Hawaii (pictured red) holds up his winning cheque after winning theQuiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau at Waimea Bay on Thursday February 25, 2016.

Florence, 23, edged out previous event winner Ross Clarke-Jones (AUS) with a late charge in his second round heat, posting his top two rides of the day during a flurry of gigantic waves. Better known for his year-round pursuits on the WSL Championship Tour, Florence is fast forging himself a place at the head of the big wave riding movement that is regarded a discipline all its own.

Third place today was Shane Dorian (HAW); fourth went to Jamie Mitchell (AUS); fifth was Kelly Slater (USA); and sixth was Makuakai Rothman (HAW).

A capacity crowd of 25,000 lined the headland-to-headland arena of Waimea Bay, witnessing eight hours of uninterrupted, mind-blowing entertainment. They roared and gasped as the 28-man field offered up fearless rides and more than a few horrific wipeouts from sun up to sun down.

Today’s conditions were the most epic ever for an “Eddie” and will surely go down as the greatest one-day Big Wave event in history. The emotions and energy were on overload with what surfers were calling “Brock’s Swell,” in honor of long-time Eddie invitee and Hawaii Big Wave rider Brock Little, who lost his battle with cancer just last week.

Those who rode today were nothing short of gladiators, armed with surfboards of up to 11-feet in length that were still dwarfed by the ocean’s tonnage. They pitted world-class skills along with their lives against the adrenaline-inducing display of Mother Nature.

Grant Twiggy Baker of South Africa (pictured) takes a massive drop as he wipesout during Round 1 of the Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikua at Waimea Beach, North Shore, Hawaii on Thursday February 25, 2016.

The undeniable crowd favorite, drawing a standing ovation wave as he walked from Waimea Bay Beach Park to the shoreline, was 66-year-old Clyde Aikau – Eddie Aikau’s younger brother, who has contested all nine Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational events through 31 years, declaring this to be his last.
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In all, 141 dramatic rides were logged today, including gutsy charges by Eddie Aikau rookies Koa Rothman (HAW) and Mason Ho (HAW); last minute Alternate starters Danilo Couto (BRZ) and Ben Wilkinson (AUS); and emotionally charged, seasoned rides by Slater and Dorian, in memory of close friend Brock Little.
Jamie O'Brien of Hawaii (pictured green) shares a ride with Shane Dorian (red) during Round 2 of the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau at Waimea Bay on Thursday February 26, 2016.

The world famous Hawaiian Water Patrol were the bedrock of today’s event, without whose support the organizers would never have been able to call the day “on.” Their safety support and assistance in harrowing moments will see every surfer return home safe tonight.

At times it was as if there were two spectacular events going on at the same time as surfers dropped down feathering walls, and a fleet of rescue jet-skis gunned to outrun avalanches of water as they bolted towards beach or horizon.

Along with the Water Patrol support was the added layer of confidence athletes had with the Quiksilver x Aqua Lung Inflatable Vest – a technology that didn’t exist when The Eddie was last held in December of 2009. Only three of the 28 athletes today competed without a vest.

“It was actually nice to have it, to have the option,” said Ross Clarke-Jones. “Because if I don’t wear it, then I’m going to get hammered. I chose to wear it and I didn’t need it till the last wave. It was the last wave and I thought I’ll pull it anyway because I got pounded and it just came out like a breeze. It’s an incredible piece of equipment.”

Each surfer contested two rounds of 1-hour, 7-man heats, with their top four scoring rides at the end of the day producing their final event score. Each ride was scored out of a total of 100 points, with size of wave, critical nature of the take-off, and successful completion of a ride all factors.

Oahu’s Aaron Gold was awarded today with the The Quiksilver GO Challenge for a massive wave ridden at Pe’ahi a month ago that has been estimated at more than 70 feet. The special award was offered up to all Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau Invitees and Alternates for the biggest, most critical wave ridden in the Hawaiian Islands during the holding period of this event up to today. Gold won $10,000 for his efforts.

The Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau is the original one-day, Big Wave surfing event, started in memory of Hawaiian waterman, Waimea Bay lifeguard and Big Wave pioneer Eddie Aikau. What started 31 years ago to pay tribute to Aikau, has grown to become an almost mythic event whose elusiveness has only fueled its global appeal. The Eddie only runs when wave face heights reach a minimum of 40 feet at Waimea Bay… a day so rare it has only happened nine times in 31 years. Today was one of those days.

Highlights from the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau are available at WorldSurfLeague.com

The Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau Final Results:
1 – John John Florence (HAW) 301
2 – Ross Clarke-Jones (AUS) 278
3 – Jamie Mitchell (AUS) 249
4 – Kelly Slater (USA) 238
5 – Dave Wassel (HAW) 230
Kelly Slater of the USA (pictured) riding a huge, clean faced wave during Round 2 of the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddia Aikau at Waimea Bay on Thursday February 25, 2016.

How the World Tour looks in 2016…

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If you’ve been hiding in a survivalist cave, or something similar, chewing on Oreos and waiting for the world to end you might not know it’s 2016. Well. It is. Another year means another go round on the world tour and it’s looking like this:

2016 Men’s Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour

QUIKSILVER PRO GOLD COAST- March 10-21
RIP CURL PRO BELLS BEACH- March 24 – April 5
DRUG AWARE MARGARET RIVER PRO- April 8-19
RIO PRO- May 10-21
FIJI PRO- June 5-17
J-BAY OPEN- July 6-17
BILLABONG PRO TEAHUPOO- August 19-30
HURLEY PRO TRESTLES- September 7-18
QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE- October 4-15
MOCHE RIP CURL PRO PORTUGAL- October 18-29
BILLABONG PIPE MASTERS- December 8-20

So not much change. No new events and thanks to the vote of the pros J-Bay keeps its welcome slot on tour, men in grey suits be damned.

Not having a headline sponsor for Rio/Fiji/J-Bay must be a concern for the bean counters but these deals have time to be fleshed out.

We’d like to see an Indonesian event. A welcome return to G-Land, the scene of some of the best contests the ASP (as it was known) ever done did would be epic. The Ulus/Padang Search event and the Keramas shindigs have proved their worth in delivering awe inspiring surfing and in these visual times much needed viral content. Indo is the surfer’s dream. It doesn’t seem right it’s not got a slot. Hell, you could even do a mobile event in the Mentawais. Fiji proves island based events are doable and bringing the WSL behemoth to the Ments would do wonders for the economy and infrastructure

Be nice to see the Canaries, Chile, Japan … hell Ireland would be an incredible addition. Unlikely as that ever is to happen. The Search events did add some much needed spice location wise. Hopefully the commentary team can remember that ‘spicey’ is a word to be used liberally when it comes to food, not surfing, in 2016.

People wise the newbs on tour getting ready to try and avoid getting their heads flushed down the portaloos at the first event on tour by the big kids are:
Caio Ibelli (BRA)
Jack Freestone (AUS)
Kanoa Igarashi (USA)
Alex Ribeiro (BRA)
Conner Coffin (USA)
Davey Cathels (AUS)
Ryan Callinan (AUS)

The WSL injury wildcards mean a welcome return for Jordy Smith to the fold and Matt Banting gets a proper shot at things. Owen Wright is looking doubtful with doctors calling for him to take a six month break to properly recover from his Pipe smashing and we’re not sure when Bede will be fit. So Dusty Payne and Dane Reynolds could well get a start on the Gold Coast. Next in line depending on retirements and injuries between now and March are Vasco Ribeiro and Aritz Aranburu so some welcome European crew potentially in the mix.
Let’s hope the waves come to the party in 2016 and everyone can try and not break themselves quite so much… In closing could this be Slater’s swan song? Will he hold an event at his personal wave pool paradise? We’ll see as the year unfolds…

Adriano de Souza claims first world title!

Adriano De Souza of Brasil (pictured) winning his Quarterfinal heat at the Billabong Pipe Masters on Thursday December 17, 2015.

Adriano de Souza is your new WSL world champion!

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.

Update

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.’
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WSL RELEASE

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.

 

For more information, log onto www.WorldSurfLeague.com

 

BILLABONG PIPE MASTER FINAL RESULTS:

1- Adriano De Souza (BRA) 14.07

2- Gabriel Medina (BRA) 8.50

 

BILLABONG PIPE MASTER SEMIFINAL RESULTS:

SF 1: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 11.33 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 10.86

SF 2: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 6.83 def. Mason Ho (HAW) 3.83

Adriano De Souza of Brasil (pictured) winning his maiden WSL World Title at the Billabong Pipe Masters on Thursday December 17, 2015

Adriano De Souza of Brasil (pictured) points to the sky after his Quarterfinal victory at the Buillabong Pipe Masters on Thursday December 17, 2015.

Gabriel Medina of Brasil (pictured) winning his Semfinal heat at the Billabong Pipe Masters on Thursday December 17,2015.

Mick Fanning of Australia (pictured) takes a moment to look up to the heavens before his quarterfinal heat against Kelly Slater (USA) at the Billabong Pipe Masters on Thursday December 17, 2015.

Mick Fanning of Australia (pictured) winning his Quarterfinal heat at the Billabong Pipe Masters on Thursday December 9, 2015.

Gabriel Medina of Brasil (pictured) prays before his Quarterfinal Heat at the Billabong Pipe Masters on Thursday December 17, 2015.

Unscripted Pipe Drama

IMAGE CAPTION (Wednesday December 16, 2015): CJ Hobgood of the United States (pictured) winning his Round 3 heat at the Billabong Pipe Masters. IMAGE CREDIT: WSL / Cestari PHOTOGRAPHER: Kelly Cestari SOCIAL MEDIA TAG: @wsl @kc80 The images attached or accessed by link within this email ("Images") are hand-out images from the Association of Surfing Professionals LLC ("World Surf League"). All Images are royalty-free but for editorial use only. No commercial or other rights are granted to the Images in any way. The Images are provided on an "as is" basis and no warranty is provided for use of a particular purpose. Rights to an individual within an Image are not provided. Copyright to the Images is owned by World Surf League. Sale or license of the Images is prohibited. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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.

IMAGE CAPTION (Wednesday December 16, 2015): Mick Fanning of Australia (pictured) winning his Round 4 heat to advance directly to the Quarter Finals and remain in contention for a fourth WSL World Title at the Billabong Pipe Masters. IMAGE CREDIT: WSL / Kirstin PHOTOGRAPHER: Kirstin Scholtz SOCIAL MEDIA TAG: @wsl @kirstinscholtz The images attached or accessed by link within this email ("Images") are hand-out images from the Association of Surfing Professionals LLC ("World Surf League"). All Images are royalty-free but for editorial use only. No commercial or other rights are granted to the Images in any way. The Images are provided on an "as is" basis and no warranty is provided for use of a particular purpose. Rights to an individual within an Image are not provided. Copyright to the Images is owned by World Surf League. Sale or license of the Images is prohibited. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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.

fanning_mom1579pipe15kirstin

“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.”

IMAGE CAPTION (Wednesday December 16, 2015): Kelly Slater of the United States (pictured) winning his Round 3 heat at the Billabong Pipe Masters. IMAGE CREDIT: WSL / Cestari PHOTOGRAPHER: Kelly Cestari.

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.”

IMAGE CAPTION (Wednesday December 16, 2015): Adriano de Souza of Brasil (pictured) winning his Round 3 heat at the Billabong Pipe Masters. IMAGE CREDIT: WSL / Masurel PHOTOGRAPHER: Laurent Masurel SOCIAL MEDIA TAG: @wsl The images attached or accessed by link within this email ("Images") are hand-out images from the Association of Surfing Professionals LLC ("World Surf League"). All Images are royalty-free but for editorial use only. No commercial or other rights are granted to the Images in any way. The Images are provided on an "as is" basis and no warranty is provided for use of a particular purpose. Rights to an individual within an Image are not provided. Copyright to the Images is owned by World Surf League. Sale or license of the Images is prohibited. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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.

Bede Durbidge wipeout

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.

Bede Durbidge of Australia (pictured) injured during a wipeout in Round 3 at the Billabong Pipe Masters on Wednesday December 16, 2015.

“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:

Heat 4: Josh Kerr (AUS) vs. Jeremy Flores (FRA)

17-Year Old Jack Robinson Takes Pipe Trials…

17-Year Old Jack Robinson Takes Pipe Trials…

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.

Solid conditions on offer at the Pipe Invitational at Pipeline, Oahu, Hawaii on Wednesday December 9, 2015.

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.

Jack Robinson

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.

Jamie O'Brien placing runner up at the Pipe Invitational on Wednesday December 9, 2015.

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.”

Jamie O'Brien advancing into the Final of the Pipe Invitational.

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.”

Mason Ho of Hawaii advancing into the Final of the Pipe INvitational on Wednesday December 9m, 2015.

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

Mason Ho