The Banzai Pipeline. It's surfing ultimate arena and Proving Ground. It's where careers are made, and sometimes, lives lost. Just off the beach, thunderous waves march in unimpeded by a continental shelf and explode over a coral reef that is mere feet deep, making it the best place ever to watch a surf contest.
With El Niño conditions currently slamming the North Shore of Oahu with massive swell after massive swell, the table is set for the likes of Andy and Bruce Irons, Ian Walsh, Mark Healey, Jamie O'Brien, Pancho Sullivan, and more of the world's best surfers to do their thing in heaving Piipe and Backdoor barrels. Stay tuned to transworldsurf.com and volcompipelinepro.com for the live Web cast, photos, video, and more beginning January 23.
Meet Your Warriors…
Aamion Goodwin: Big ass Second Reef Pipe would suit Aamion best.
Gavin Beschen: "The Alien" will be looking for long barrels at Backdoor.
Marcelo Trekinho: Known for airs but can rip the big stuff too.
Alejandro Moreda: Crazy ass Puerto Rican and Backdoor charger.
Gavin Gillette: Killed Parko's chance at a World Title. Could do some damage…
Marcus Hickman: Andy Irons' favorite surfer, 'nuff said.
Alex Gray: A threat in all conditions, could be his breakout event.
Hank Gaskell: Could win if it's held in Backdoor conditions.
Mark Healey: Having a career winter, why should his luck run out now?
Alex Smith: Just got 2nd at the Sponsor Me Sunset Open Presented by Da Hui.
Mark Mathews: Not afraid to take off on the biggest wave Pipe can offer up.
Ian Walsh: A contender at Pipe and Backdoor.
Andy Irons: He's won a few times out here…
J.D. Irons: Andy and Bruce's cousin and one hell of a surfer.
Anthony Walsh: Top notch Pipe guy.
Jamie O'Brien: Jamie O is due for a big result at Pipe.
Billy Kemper: Maui darkhorse could take some scalps.
Mitch Coleborn: Not known for his big Pipe skills but could be a darkhorse pick based on skill alone.
Naohisa Ogawa: Comes from the Takayuki Wakita school of charging.
Nathan Fletcher: Amazing surfer at both Pipe and Backdoor. Does he have a super competitive nature in him though?
Brett Barley: The Outer Banks' finest.
Bruce Irons: Former Pipeline Master has to be considered an event favorite.
Jesse Merle-Jones: Could do some damage in big Pipe conditions.
Ola Elogram: Backdoor barrel maestro.
Joel Centeio: On a roll early in the winter, can he get back on it?
Pancho Sullivan: Look out for the former World Tour competitor and stalwart on the North Shore.
John John Florence: Under Pancho's wing, John John has been ripping through heats lately.
Randall Paulson: One of the best when it's breaking waaaay outside.
Charlie Carroll: West side shredder loves Backdoor.
Jonah Morgan: Underground goofyfoot from da Big Island could take down some big names.
Reef McIntosh: Spends as much time out at Pipe/Backdoor as anyone, loves the big stuff.
Chris Ward: Could win the whole thing or lose in the first round.
Rico Jimenez: Not afraid to pack a huge one at either Pipe or Backdoor.
Clay Marzo: Surfed well in the ASP World Junior Championships, can he keep it up at Pipeline? Yes.
Kai Barger: Injuries have hampered Barger but he's shown he can play through 'em before.
Rob Machado: Former Pipeline Masters always have a shot.
Cory Lopez: Could do well in perfect Pipe barrels or sloppy, maneuver oriented surf.
Kalani Chapman: Long arms, a short torso, and years of Pipe experience make Kalani a contender.
Kamalei Alexander: Always a standout at Backdoor.
Roy Powers: A win in a WQS 5* could get Roy right back where he wants to be—on the WCT.
Daniel Jones: A sure bet to make some heats.
Ry Craike: Ry surfs in contests?
Danny Fuller: One of Pipeline's favorite sons and definitely a contender.
Sean Moody: If he wins, expect more Bud Light than all the North Shore can handle.
Dean Morrison: Alleged leash puller brings WCT experience and a certain set of "skills".
Keoni "Cheeseburger" Nozaki: Don't have too many cheeseburgers before your heat bra…
Sion Milosky: Underground and badass.
Derek Ho: Speaking of badass, Uncle Derek runs Pipe!
Solomon Ortiz: Backdoor or Pipe, it's all good for this Big Islander.
Stephen Koehne: Wouldn't want to surf against him in big Backdoor conditions.
Dusty Payne: A win at his main sponsor's event would be a great way to kick off his maiden year on the World Championship Tour.
Kiron Jabour: North Shore upstart could do some damage.
Sunny Garcia: He's pissed about what happened at the Masters…watch out.
Dylan Melamed: Young goofyfoot from Kauai has mad skills in the contest department.
Takayuki Wakita: Has his own peak named after him at Pipe, the "Wakita Bowl."
Evan Valiere: Won this event a few years ago, why not again?
Ezra Sitt: Second generation Pipeline surfer, rips at Backdoor.
TJ Barron: One of Hawaii's best 20-something surfers and a standout at Backdoor.
Tom Dosland: Maui ripper, won the event when it was called the Monster Energy.
Flynn Novak: Ripped all the way to the quarters at the Pipe Masters, loves big Pipe and knows the lineup intimately.
Tom Whitaker: Brings WCT experience to the field.
Fred Patacchia Jr.: Is overdue for a huge result at Pipeline and loves competing in Hawaii.
Makuakai Rothman: A savvy competitor and North Shore standout. Due for a win as well.
Tyler Newton: A Kauai up and comer, already has tons of Pipe experience at a young age.