At 11:40 AM in Hawaii, last years Billabong Pipeline Master Kieren Perrow (again in need of a Cinderella finish to stay on tour) kicked off 2012's pinnacle World Tour event with a hard fought victory over Pipe Specialist Evan Valiere, keeping his tour dreams for 2013 afloat. The surf was four feet (we're in Hawaii, so we'll use their scale) and wonky. Kieren rode a 6'2".
With each heat, the waves grew larger, and so did the boards being ridden. By 4 PM, when CJ Hobgood paddled out against Jamie O'Brien, the surf was a true six-to-eight foot and the boys did battle on real Pipe surfboards. It was the last (and also the best) heat of the day, with CJ and JOB trading beatings, broken boards, and eight point rides. In the end, JOB was left searching for a high six that never arrived, and CJ took the win. Afterwards, the announcers called it an upset—which his early exit in firing Pipe certainly is—but; is it fair to call JOB's loss an upset if it was at the hands of one of the world's best frontside tuberiders?
Upset or not, heats like that prove why Pipe is the most intriguing and entertaining event of the year—the results are always as unpredictable as the wave itself. Also of note, Taylor Knox surfed his last heat as a full time World Championship Tour surfer today when he lost to wildcard Billy Kemper—and was chaired and cheered up the beach afterwards by the likes of Slater, Machado, and Fanning. To read more about his thoughts on life minus the World Tour, click here (Spoiler alert: He's not too bummed).
Tomorrow, the swell looks to hold (if not build) and both Parko and Slater will hit the water with the 2012 ASP world title on the line. Stay tuned; this thing is just getting started, and we're in for a banger. To read the detailed world title scenarios, please click here.—Zander Morton
ASP Press Release: ASP Top 34 Take on Local Contingent for Round 1 Billabong Pipe Masters
BANZAI PIPELINE, Oahu/Hawaii (Saturday, December 8, 2012) – The Billabong Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons kicked off Round 1 of competition today in pumping six-to-eight foot (2 metre) waves at Pipeline, hosting the ASP Top 34 as they battled the notorious local wildcards in an attempt to requalify for the 2013 ASP Top 34.
The 2012 Billabong Pipe Masters, the final stop on the 2012 ASP World Championship Tour (WCT), will see a showdown for this year's ASP World Title and also represents the final jewel of the Vans Triple Crown. Kieren Perrow (AUS), 35, defending Billabong Pipe Masters Champion, got the best of a hard-fought heat against dangerous Pipeline specialist Evan Valiere (HAW), 29, on the opening heat of the day, keeping his hopes of a repeat victory alive.
"That felt like a final," Perrow said. "I was expecting Evan (Valiere) to pull off some bombs. He's an unreal surfer out here. We were out of position on those sets, but I'm glad we were and he wasn't in position. It was a nerve-wracking heat being in the first one of the event and I'm just glad to get the win."
Perrow got off to a tough start to his campaign, only finding a series of small scores and a broken board early on. The veteran rebounded however, finding tubes at both Pipeline and Backdoor in the back half of the heat to secure the win. "My boards are both 6'2" but I'm bummed I broke the first one," Perrow said. "It was shaped to be more like a 6'6". This other one was a little small. I kind of free fell in to a few and I'm glad to get a couple of scores. I didn't have anything before that."
Yadin Nicol (AUS), 27, current ASP WCT No. 29, kept his hopes of requalifying for the 2013 ASP WCT alive, besting North Shore local Flynn Novak (HAW), 29, compliments of an impressive backdoor barrel to move to Round 2. "That was fun," Nicol said. "To be honest, it's a little weird with the overlapping heats. It turned on out there and a few bombs came through. I got smoked a couple of times, we had everything. That view never gets old. I was pretty scared at the time and trying to not thing about that lip coming down on my head. I'm stoked to get through that heat."
Wildcard Kalani Chapman (HAW), 30, capitalized on his veteran experience, posting two standout performances in the building swell. Chapman advanced over two impressive hurdles, besting Tiago Pires (PRT), 32, and Adrian Buchan (AUS), 30, to advance to Round 3. "I just paddled out and knew since the first heat had priority that I wanted to move around and get as many waves as possible. That was my game-plan and it started out really well. I was stoked to get a really good start and I hope it happens every time."
Chapman opted for a slightly larger board than most of his competitors and feels his more buoyant equipment helps not only with paddling, but navigating through foamy barrels. "Riding a big board isn't always about catching the wave. Sometimes when you're in the barrel the foam-ball will explode out in front of you and a big board will help you ride out over it. It's working. I'm just stoked to be surfing in the contest. It's a dream and I'm psyching no matter what."
Shane Dorian (HAW), 40, former ASP WCT competitor and big-wave specialist, was deadly in his Round 1 bout, notching the day's highest single-wave score of 9.17 out of 10 for a deep backdoor barrel. "I always start off with a plan, but sometimes it doesn't materialize," Dorian said. "I try my best and hopefully get a few nuggets. The conditions were tricky with lots of bumps. I was happy to get that 9 and after that I was just playing defense. I broke my old faithful, I was bummed about that, but I just got spanked out there. It's all good though, that's what they're for."
Sebastian Zietz (HAW), 24, current frontrunner for the Vans Triple Crown and qualifier for the 2013 ASP Top 34, moved one step closer to securing the coveted ASP Specialty Event, taking a Round 1 win over fellow wildcard Glenn Hall (IRL), 31. "I guess the thing that stuck out most in my mind in that heat was my wipeout," Zietz said. "The thing just mowed me down. I found a couple of open ones in the end, so thank you Pipeline. I'm honored to put my names up there with the other guys that have won Haleiwa. I've never done well at Sunset, so making the final was a dream come true. I need to make a few more heats at Pipe and we'll see what happens."
Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow morning at 6:30am to assess conditions for a possible 8am start. For more information, log onto www.aspworldtour.com
BILLABONG PIPE MASTERS ROUND 1 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Kieren Perrow (AUS) 15.00 def. Evan Valiere (HAW) 9.50
Heat 2: Kolohe Andino (USA) 6.50 def. Tyler Newton (HAW) 6.26
Heat 3: Kalani Chapman (HAW) 15.83 def. Tiago Pires (PRT) 5.70
Heat 4: Yadin Nicol (AUS) 15.33 def. Flynn Novak (HAW) 9.76
Heat 5: Fred Patacchia (HAW) 8.43 def. Tanner Hendrickson (HAW) 5.93
Heat 6: Billy Kemper (HAW) 11.00 def. Taylor Knox (USA) 10.17
Heat 7: Adam Melling (AUS) 11.66 def. Bruce Irons (HAW) 7.73
Heat 8: Jamie O'Brien (HAW) 16.34 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 9.94
Heat 9: Shane Dorian (HAW) 14.50 def. Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 9.83
Heat 10: Ricardo dos Santos (BRA) 14.73 def. Dusty Payne (HAW) 7.84
Heat 11: Dane Reynolds (USA) 11.34 def. Granger Larsen (HAW) 3.10
Heat 12: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 14.27 def. Glenn Hall (IRL) 10.77
BILLABONG PIPE MASTERS ROUND 2 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Kalani Chapman (HAW) 13.84 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 10.60
Heat 2: Billy Kemper (HAW) 9.33 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 5.04
Heat 3: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 15.17 def. Jamie O'Brien (HAW) 13.57
REMAINING BILLABONG PIPE MASTERS ROUND 2 MATCH UPS:
Heat 4: Alejo Muniz (BRA) vs. Shane Dorian (HAW)
Heat 5: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Ricardo dos Santos (BRA)
Heat 6: Travis Logie (ZAF) vs. Sebastian Zietz (HAW)
Heat 7: Kai Otton (AUS) vs. Dane Reynolds (USA)
Heat 8: Miguel Pupo (BRA) vs. Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 9: Damien Hobgood (USA) vs. Fred Patacchia (HAW)
Heat 10: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) vs. Yadin Nicol (AUS)
Heat 11: Brett Simpson (USA) vs. Kolohe Andino (USA)
Heat 12: Heitor Alves (BRA) vs. Kieren Perrow (AUS)
BILLABONG PIPE MASTERS ROUND 3 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: John John Florence (HAW) vs. TBD
Heat 2: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. TBD
Heat 3: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. TBD
Heat 4: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. TBD
Heat 5: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. TBD
Heat 6: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. TBD
Heat 7: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. TBD
Heat 8: Josh Kerr (AUS) vs. TBD
Heat 9: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. TBD
Heat 10: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. TBD
Heat 11: Jeremy Flores (FRA) vs. TBD
Heat 12: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. TBD