Da Banzai. Da meat and potatoes of Oahu. Still everyone's focus after all these years. Pipeline. Serious business. Not one to be messed with. Well, last year was a bit lackluster in that department, but hey, a Pipe Masters is still a Pipe Masters (just ask Taj Burrow).
With Kelly's 10th already wrapped up, the focus shifts to the Triple Crown title, a Pipe Masters title, and the year end tour qualifications. Parko's previously dominating lead in the Triple Crown ratings has been dwindled down to a mere 26 points. Julian Wilson, who was just named the Triple Crown Rookie Of The Year, is the one that trails by only 26 points. But Julian doesn't get a slot into the Pipe Masters, which means he can do absolutely nothing about winning a Triple Crown (kinda f—ked huh? Give the kid a slot!). But Joel Centeio and Granger Larson are within striking distance of Parko as well, and since they're the top two Hawaiians in the ratings they get slots into the Pipe Masters. So Parko will be challenged in going for his third Triple Crown title in a row.
A Pipe Masters title is the most prestigious victory on tour to earn. Pipe can make or break careers for World Tour surfers, and not to mention wildcards. The Pipe Masters is always full of local chargers that can and will knock off men who need to make a heat to keep their tour hopes alive. Look for the regulars like Jamie O'Brien, John Florence, Danny Fuller, Kalani Chapman, Kamalei Alexander, Bruce Irons, and crew to shatter some dreams.
Rookies and vets alike are scrambling for points to reclaim a spot on tour next year—next year's seamless transition into a full year of only 32 men. Pat Gudauskas currently sits in the lucky number 22 spot on the tour rankings. That's what everyone below him is shooting for—guys like Dusty Payne, Tom Whitaker, Travis Logie, Kai Otton, etc. The final 10 men will come from the One World Rankings, which will eventually be the only rankings when the two are merged in 2011 (see them below). At the moment those 10 who are not in the top 22 on tour in order from 1-10 are: Parko, Heitor Alves, Matt Wilkinson, Dan Ross, Adam Melling, Raoni Monteiro, Josh Kerr, Alejo Muniz, Julian Wilson, and Gabe Kling. Only some of these men control their own fates though, as others (Heitor, Raoni, Josh, Alejo, and Julian) can do nothing but watch and hope they stay in that top 10.
But of course, this year's Pipe Masters will be missing one huge personality, a man that defined what it is to be a Pipe Master. The event is being held in memory of Andy Irons and you can guarantee that his spirit will continue to live on for years within the very waves that break over the reef at the Banzai. Whoever claims this year's title will do so in memorable fashion, leaving a legacy for years to come.—Ryan Brower
The Billabong Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons gets going December 8th and runs till December 20th. Watch the event live.
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Chris Cote, Editor In Chief
Winner: Merry Christmas Pat Gudauskas, you are the 2010 Billabong Pipe Master's Champion!
Rookie: Dusty Payne and Owen Wright will wake up opposite the same young lady, severely hung over from a wonderful evening. They will look at each other, laugh, then realize that they are to compete in the semis against each other in roughly 25 minutes. Dusty will win, then puke.
Shocker: I will catch a wave over three feet during my two week trip to Hawaii.
Triple Crown Winner: Parko, bro.
Casey Koteen, Managing Editor
Winner: After pouring over all the numbers and results from Slater's career for the feature we did on him in the new issue, his winning (and finals) percentages at Pipe are off the charts. Plus, I think it's highly likely this will be his last world tour contest as a full time competitor, and you know he wants to go off with a bang.
Rookie: Dusty Payne needs a solid result to requalify for next year, and I reckon he's gonna get it with both Volcom houses cheering him on.
Shocker: Jordy Smith will throw a double back flip in the shorebreak and almost pull it.
Triple Crown Winner: Has to be Parko.
Aaron Checkwood, Photo Editor
Winner: John John Florence—I think this will be the breakout year if the waves cooperate.
Rookie: Dusty Payne—he seems to get more and more comfortable at Backdoor.
Shocker: All Hawaiian final.
Triple Crown Winner: Parko. He's already got the lead and he gets 10s at Pipe.
Justin Cote, Online Editor
Winner: Will be a repeat from last year, Taj Burrow. I think its gonna be small and windy (like last year) and Taj will air his way to the podium.
Rookie: Dusty Payne because he’s so comfortable out there—Pipe and Backdoor is basically his home break.
Shocker: In a shocking turn of events, the Pipe Masters will be held at either Off The Wall or Gums.
Triple Crown Winner: As far as the Vans Triple Crown, Parko has been dominant and there’s no reason why he won’t win yet another one.
Ryan Brower, Edit Assistant
Winner: If it's true Pipe I'm thinking either J.O.B. or John Florence is going to trump as a wildcard. If it's like tiny last year look for somebody like Ace or Taj to take things.
Rookie: Owen Wright puts the final nail in the coffin for his Rookie Of The Year campaign.
Shocker: Kelly doesn't win his last contest as a full-time competitor and decides to do the Snapper event next year, gets a win, then goes for number 11…
Triple Crown Winner: Parko's hefty lead has shrunk significantly but he's still the favorite in my mind. Plus Julian doesn’t even get a chance at Pipe, even though he’s only 26 points behind Parko. Travesty…
Jeff Baldwin, Sales Turkey
Winner: Freddy P will have his day… if a smoking West swell comes. His year was a mix of his best surfing with no heat luck.
Rookie: Brett Simpson will place best. Small-to-medium Backdoor rights and some huge airs.
Shocker: The wildcards dominate. Bruce, John John and Jamie O battle it out in the semis.
Triple Crown Winner: PARKO PARKO PARKO!!!!