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John Florence Wins The 2011 Volcom Pipe Pro

Sure, we all knew Damien Hobgood was part of a twin duo that could bend like Gumby to make it through any backside barrel ever. But geez, he was just putting it all on the line today. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Sure, we all knew Damien Hobgood was part of a twin duo that could bend like Gumby to make it through any backside barrel ever. But geez, he was just putting it all on the line today. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
The 2011 Volcom Pipe Master (and 2011 Da Hui Backdoor Shootout winner, too), Mr. John Florence—yes, address him as Mister from now on. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
The 2011 Volcom Pipe Pro victor (and 2011 Da Hui Backdoor Shootout winner, too), Mr. John Florence—yes, address him as Mister from now on. Congrats Mister Florence. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

"When there's surf, you surf," the venerable Gerry Lopez said in the morning when things looked unsure of how far into the day the event would run. This was supposed to be a dying swell, and there's supposed to be swell coming over the weekend and next week. But boy did Gerry's adage prove to be gold—Pipe and Backdoor spat out perfection all day, and as the day wore on it continued to get even better, forcing contest organizers to actually wrap it up today. "The Pipeline came through like a champ for us in this event," Gerry ended the day saying.

And a person who reaped the rewards more than any was John Florence. The eighteen-year-old won every one of his five heats over the past two days at Pipeline. His lowest heat score of those five was his first, an 11.63—his highest an 18.66 in round 4 when he had the field comboed within four minutes. The kid (err, young man) won the Da Hui Backdoor Shootout just three weeks to the day. "It's super fun, pretty perfect. There's lots of waves today, but you've gotta be a bit picky with them,” John said after one of those heat victories. “I'm just psyched on getting to surf Pipe with just four guys out. It’s satisfaction to get two out here in a row. I love doing it and putting it all together and just having fun.”

Great to finally see a great Pipe charger, and all around good guy, Aamion Goodwin make a final at Pipe. Good on ya Aamion! Photobrent/SPL
Great to finally see a great Pipe charger, and all around good guy, Aamion Goodwin make a final at Pipe. Good on ya Aamion! Photobrent/SPL
Ola Eleogram tickling the ceiling—and looking like he's damn well enjoying it. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Ola Eleogram tickling the ceiling—and looking like he's damn well enjoying it. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
You can barely make out the surfer, but that technique on a Backdoor drop-in means it could only be one person: Bruce Irons. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
You can barely make out the surfer, but that technique on a Backdoor drop-in means it could only be one person: Bruce Irons. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

And get his second Pipeline win John did. If there's any doubt in your mind whether or not John Florence will one day (probably sooner than later) be an official Pipe Master, then shame on you. Even Jamie O'Brien's deep, more-than-vertical drops weren't enough to take on John today—John's drops were steeper, deeper, and with a bit more flair as well. It just seemed to all come together at every moment for John.

John's 9.93 in the final was a complete under the lip take off, fully barreling him while he was in the process of setting his rail. John comboed Wardo and Aamion at one point in the final. It wasn't even a heat really, it was just John surfing the spot he's grown up surfing his entire life. And right now he’s the best one out there.—Ryan Brower

Check out day 1’s action here.

Check out day 2’s action here.

-FINAL-

1. John John Florence (HAW) – 18.36, $16,000

2. Jamie O’Brien (HAW) – 15.34, $8,000

3. Chris Ward (USA) – 14.46, $6,000

4. Aamion Goodwin (HAW) – 10.6, $5,000

"Hey Dane, so yeah, your hair is strangely Dutchboyish. Do you have special dimensions for your boards?" "No Marcus, my hair actually creates better aerodynamics while trying to make it through tunnels."
"Hey Dane, so yeah, your hair is strangely Dutchboyish. Do you have special dimensions for your boards?" "No Dylan, my hair actually creates better aerodynamics while trying to make it through tunnels." Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Pipe and Backdoor sure did their best attempt today at blocking out the horizon. Marcus Hickman. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Pipe and Backdoor sure did their best attempt today at blocking out the horizon. Marcus Hickman. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Makuakai Rothman earning his 17th with this fanged beauty. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Makuakai Rothman earning his 17th with this fanged beauty. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
No, Marcus Hickman (red jersey, and the lifter) and Leanardo Bastos (white jersey, and the liftee) weren't trying to tandem surf in their quarterfinals heat. They were awarded with a double-interference for the non-attempt anyways. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
No, Marcus Hickman (red jersey, and the lifter) and Leanardo Bastos (white jersey, and the liftee) weren't trying to tandem surf in their quarterfinals heat. They were awarded with a double-interference for the non-attempt anyways. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Kalani Chapman received the Todd Chesser Memorial Spirit Award from Todd's mother Jeannie. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Kalani Chapman received the Todd Chesser Memorial Spirit Award from Todd's mother Jeannie. Photo: Bielmann/SPL


Head to the next page for more photos.

Backside at zee Pipeline. Photobrent/SPL
Backside at zee Pipeline. Photobrent/SPL
Bruce's compsure dropping into Backdoor goes unmatched. Photobrent/SPL
Bruce's compsure dropping into Backdoor goes unmatched. Photobrent/SPL
Damo looks like he's reaching for the wall with his right hand—when was the last time you were in a barrel where you could touch the wall? Photobrent/SPL
Damo looks like he's reaching for the wall with his right hand—when was the last time you were in a barrel where you couldn't actually touch the wall? Photobrent/SPL
Said Kekoa Bacalso of his 10-point, $1,000 Backdoor wave: "To tell you the truth I didn't think I was going to make it. I was just pumping for my life. Right at the end it almost closed out on me, I just barraged that last section because I wasn't going to do all that work and pumping for nothing. No stickers on da board, I'm a soul surfer now, as they say." Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Said Kekoa Bacalso of his 10-point, $1,000 Backdoor wave: "To tell you the truth I didn't think I was going to make it. I was just pumping for my life. Right at the end it almost closed out on me, I just barraged that last section because I wasn't going to do all that work and pumping for nothing. No stickers on da board, I'm a soul surfer now, as they say." Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Ola Eleogram looking pretty relaxed in there. Photobrent/SPL
Ola Eleogram looking pretty relaxed in there. Photobrent/SPL
The only two 10s of the event: Ian Walsh and Kekoa Bacalso, with Electric's Matt Shadbolt in the middle handing out the $1,000 checks to the boys. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
The only two 10s of the event: Ian Walsh and Kekoa Bacalso, with Electric's Matt Shadbolt in the middle handing out the $1,000 checks to the boys. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Just another day at home for John Florence really. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Just another day at home for John Florence, really. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Brent Bielmann decided to step back and enjoy Aamion's poise for a moment. Photobrent/SPL
Brent Bielmann decided to step back and enjoy Aamion's poise for a moment. Photobrent/SPL
Even with just four guys out Pipe can still be a little hectic. Photobrent/SPL
Even with just four guys out Pipe can still be a little hectic. Photobrent/SPL
Evan Valiere showing flawless pigdog execution. Photobrent/SPL
Evan Valiere showing flawless pigdog execution. Photobrent/SPL
Jamie O'Brien was doing what he does best: making impossible drops at Pipeline look easy. Photo courtesy Hawaii.rr.com/Bernie Baker
Jamie O'Brien was doing what he does best: making impossible drops at Pipeline look easy. Photo courtesy Hawaii.rr.com/Bernie Baker

Head to the next page for the rest of the photos and the official press release.

Damo's butt drag to a Backdoor view few ever see. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Damo's butt drag to a Backdoor view few ever see. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Bam Bam (Kekoa) matching the might of Backdoor on this one. Photobrent/SPL
Bam Bam (Kekoa) matching the might of Backdoor on this one. Photobrent/SPL
aamion12
Finalist Aamion Goodwin. Photobrent/SPL

Banzai Pipeline, Oahu, HAWAII – January 26, 2011 — Hawaii’s John John Florence started surfing the deadly Banzai Pipeline at age eight and barely four feet tall — about the same time the surfing world’s spotlight fell in love with him. Ten years later, at 18 years of age and heaped with expectation, he proved there hasn’t been an ounce of energy wasted on him, winning the $120,000 Volcom Pipe Pro title at his home break today. An Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) five-star event, this was exactly the kind of springboard into professional surfing that Florence has long dreamed of, and it came in the first rated event of his first season on tour.

It was a hard-earned victory for Florence who had to work his way through five grueling rounds – four of them held today in barreling waves two stories high. His final ascent required him to take down five-time Pipeline champion Jamie O’Brien and proven Pipe specialists Chris Ward (San Clemente, Ca.) and Aamion Goodwin (Kauai, HI).

Determined not to let the opportunity slip, Florence embarked upon a flurry of insane tube-riding in the opening 10 minutes of the 30-minute heat, locking in back-to-back scores of 7.67, 8.43, and 9.93 to shut the door. He never caught another wave. He didn’t need to. His top two-wave total of 18.36 stood untouched and earned him $16,000, 1,000 ASP ratings points and, more importantly, a wildcard to take on the world’s best in the Pipe Masters, December 8-20.

It has been an incredible month for the now-towering teenager who tasted victory just three weeks ago, right here in a specialty “Backdoor Shootout” event, setting his trajectory for 2011. Somehow, despite a decade of photo shoots, magazine spreads and interviews, he seemed to be the only one surprised with the result.

Two contests in a row out here, I’m so stoked right now. I’m still kind of in disbelief,” said Florence. “It’s satisfaction. I love doing it and putting it all together and just having fun.”

On his plans to travel the world this year in a bid to qualify for the elite ASP World Tour: “This means everything, my first (ASP) win and my first (ASP) final. I’m gonna try, you know. I’ve got a pretty good start on it. I love it, and I love traveling. Going to all different places, surfing, meeting different people. It’s the best thing ever.

Hence the term "Backdoor". Photobrent/SPL
Hence the term "Backdoor". Photobrent/SPL
Pipeline was spitting these out allll day. Photobrent/SPL
Pipeline was spitting these out allll day. Photobrent/SPL

“It’s just crazy to be in a heat with Jamie. I’ve grown up with him and I’m just really stoked. I’ve wanted to win here ever since I was little, ever since I started surfing out here.”

Florence’s rhythm and rapid fire annihilation of the heat was uncanny, breaking out of the gates with a lifetime of motivation behind him. His tube-riding was flawless – the biggest waves, the steepest drops, Backdoor rights, Pipeline lefts; they all seemed to play out the same way: deep, long and successful.

“With guys like Chris Ward, Jamie, and Aamion you know anything could happen.  If a good set comes Jamie could get a 10. Anyone could have gotten the scores. So, it wasn’t until the last 40 seconds that I was like……YES!

“I kinda just lucked into it, you know.  I got that first one and it was alright and then I paddled back out and got that second one, and then just paddled straight back into that left.”

O’Brien didn’t give up and is well known for rising to the challenge. He answered back with an 8.57 and a 6.77 (15.34 points total) in the final, but ultimately never found the score he needed to bridge the gap. His consolation was a wildcard into December’s Pipe Masters and $8,000.

For Ward and Goodwin, it might have been a matter of peaking a round too early. Aamion posted the second highest heat score of the entire event in his semi-final against O’Brien, Fred Patacchia (HI) and Ian Walsh (HI) – 18.54. Ward had one of the highest single rides of the competition in his semi-final against Florence, Kai Barger (HI), and Damien Hobgood (FL) – a near-perfect 9.07. Like Florence and O’Brien, Goodwin and Ward win wildcards into the Pipe Masters.

A. Gray and Chris Cote enjoying a cup o' joe early morning. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
A. Gray and Chris Cote enjoying a cup o' joe early morning. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Bruce Irons took home a 9th place and still got some insane ones. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Bruce Irons took home a 9th place and still got some insane ones. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Somebody enjoying themselves a bowl of Pipe. Photobrent/SPL
Somebody enjoying themselves a bowl of Pipe. Photobrent/SPL
Getting the shot of someone else getting the shot of someone sliding in control at Pipe on their Backhand. Photobrent/SPL
Getting the shot of someone else getting the shot of someone sliding in control at Pipe on their Backhand. Photobrent/SPL

“It was amazing,” Goodwin said of his semi-final heat and best finish in an ASP event. “I’ll remember that for a long time.”

For Ward, it was nothing but satisfaction. His last appearance in a final was here at the Pipe Masters in December of 2009, against world champion Kelly Slater. To podium again was confidence boosting.

“The waves are amazing today, so perfect,” said Ward. “I mean, if you’re in the right spot, your going to get shacked off your head. It’s right up my alley. I love Pipeline and I love surfing with four guys out at Pipeline. This is one of the best contests you can surf in. I’m glad to be hear and glad to be on the podium.”

Other awards handed out today included the Electric Visual Perfect 10s – $1,000 bonuses to the two surfers who posted perfect 10-point rides during the event: Maui’s Ian Walsh, and Oahu’s Kekoa Bacalso; and the Todd Chesser Memorial Spirit Award that went to wildcard charger Kalani Chapman (HI). Wildcards into the Pipe Masters were also won by Hawaii surfers Kai Barger, Fred Patacchia, Bruce Irons, and Evan Valiere.

The highest placed non-Americans in the event were Brazilian pair Wiggolly Dantas and Leandro Bastos. They both lost in the quarter finals, placing equal ninth overall. Bastos lost to O’Brien and Dantas lost to Ward.

The 2011 Volcom Pipe Pro appreciates the support of Surfline.com, the official contest forecaster; Electric Visual; TransWorld SURF and Fuel TV.

North Shore boy Fred Pattachia had this to say about home today, "It's getting to that point in competition where everyone is a threat, everyone's going to pull in. Pipeline is just producing for us right now. It's not work out here.
North Shore boy Fred Pattachia had this to say about home today, "It's getting to that point in competition where everyone is a threat, everyone's going to pull in. Pipeline is just producing for us right now. It's not work out here."
Timmy Reyes got this Backdoor chunker and ended up with only a 25th—tells ya how damn good it was. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Timmy Reyes got this Backdoor chunker and ended up with only a 25th—tells ya how damn good it was. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

RESULTS:

-FINAL-

1. John John Florence (HAW) – 18.36, $16,000

2. Jamie O’Brien (HAW) – 15.34, $8,000

3. Chris Ward (USA) – 14.46, $6,000

4. Aamion Goodwin (HAW) – 10.6, $5,000

Semifinals

*Competitors listed in order of placing, 1st through 4th.

3rd=5th, 4th=7th

H1: John John Florence (HAW); Chris Ward (USA); Kai Barger (HAW); Damien Hobgood (USA)

H2: Aamion Goodwin (HAW); Jamie O’Brien (HAW); Fredrick Patacchia (HAW); Ian Walsh (HAW)

Quarterfinals

3rd=9th, 4th=13th

H1: John John Florence (HAW); Kai Barger (HAW); Cory Lopez (USA); Kekoa Bacalso (HAW)

H2: Damien Hobgood (USA); Chris Ward (USA); Wiggolly Dantas (BRA); Kalani Chapman (HAW)

H3: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW); Ian Walsh (HAW); Bruce Irons (HAW); Evan Valiere (HAW)

H4: Jamie O’Brien (HAW); Aamion Goodwin (HAW); Leandro Bastos (BRZ); Marcus Hickman (HAW)

Round of 32

1st and 2nd advance to Quarter-Finals

3rd=17th, 4th=25th

H1: John John Florence (HAW); Chris Ward (USA); Brad Ettinger (USA); Cory Arrambide (USA)

H2: Cory Lopez (USA); Wiggolly Dantas (BRA); Reef McIntosh (HAW); Sunny Garcia (HAW)

H3: Damien Hobgood (USA); Kekoa Bacalso (HAW); Mason Ho (HAW); Tim Reyes (USA)

H4: Kalani Chapman (HAW); Kai Barger (HAW); Dane Gudauskas (USA); Damien Fahrenfort (ZAF)

H5: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW); Leandro Bastos (BRA); Flynn Novak (HAW); Roy Powers (HAW)

H6: Bruce Irons (HAW); Aamion Goodwin (HAW); Olamana Eleogram (HAW); Nathan Yeomans (USA)

H7: Marcus Hickman (HAW); Evan Valiere (HAW); Kevin Sullivan (HAW); Dylan Graves (PRI)

H8: Jamie O’Brien (HAW); Ian Walsh (HAW); Makuakai Rothman (HAW); Charles Martin (GLP)