The 1999 Gerry Lopez Mountain Dew Pipe Masters was all that was expected, except one thing: No one expected to see Kelly dominate so hard after being off the tour and winless for about eighteen months. It wasn’t that people expected any less from him, but the level Kelly surfed at was beyond everyone! The swell for the finals was mostly a Pipe swell with scattered Backdoor waves every hour or so. Somehow Kelly managed to get nines and tens on Backdoor waves that seemed impossible. Kelly was quoted as saying, “You know me, I gotta go right.”
It was evident that Kelly was on another level when he hooked off the bottom of a good-sized Pipe left and hoisted up a backside alley-oop McTwist, or something to that effect. Kelly almost pulled this ridiculous trick and people on the beach were tripping. That air attempt seemed to halt the contest until Kelly’s next wave, which was a perfect ten at Backdoor.
Some standouts were obvious: Sunny Garcia, Occy, Taj Burrow, Rob Machado, Mick Lowe, Andy Irons, Tamayo Perry, and runner-up Shane Wehner, who surprised a lot of people with wave selection and a pair of oversized Australian balls.
In the end, it was obvious that Kelly had won, the level of surfing at Pipe was raised to another level, and next year, the kids will be owning it.–C.C.