Xbox Pipeline Masters – Superb Waves Offer Brilliant Barrel Riding Display

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Monday, December 16 (Pipeline, Hawaii) Excellent six-to-ten foot waves barreled through Banzai Pipeline today offering competitors in the 32nd annual Xbox Pipeline Masters their best conditions of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing so far this year. While the danger element still held strong, the quality, size and duration of tube-rides on offer for rounds two and three made for unbelievable surfing. Despite being a Monday, crowds filled the beach to capacity and the action on offer made the trip to Oahu’s North Shore well worthwhile.

Australians set the pace of the day, living up to their reputation of being “chargers” no matter what the conditions. Heat two of round two was sensational with current Vans Triple Crown of Surfing series ratings leader Joel Parkinson delivering the top scoring ride of the day _ a perfect 10 for a long winding tube ride that defied the odds. But it was still only enough to see him advance in second place behind Luke Hitchings (Aus), who topped the days heat scores with a total of 19.75 out of 20. Hitchings top two scoring rides came in at 9.95 and 9.8 points. Third and fourth in the heat, eliminated from the competition were wildcard entrant Rob Machado (USA) and Shane Powell (Aus). While Hitchings and Parkinson enjoyed a dream heat, Powell experienced a competitor’s nightmare, sustaining some horrible wipeouts and breaking all three fins from his board on a particularly bad one.”By a million miles,” responded Hitchings, when asked if that was the best heat of his career. “I was so nervous. If I didn’t make that heat I was going to be knocked off the tour, so I pretty much had to have a dream heat, especially with the guys I had out there. I just can’t believe I’ve come through. I’m the happiest man ever.”

If Parkinson and Hitchings got the crowd going, world champion elect Andy Irons (Haw) pushed them to the edge of their sand mats. Childhood friend and wildcard entrant Brian Pacheco has pushed Irons hard through every round and today was no different. In the morning’s second round heat, Irons required a 7.35 to move out of third position with three minutes remaining. He dropped into a Pipeline pit, positioned himself perfectly to stay inside the tube as long as possible, and then emerged to the sound of applause. The judges responded with a 9.6 and he ended up taking first in the heat ahead of Pacheco.

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They took to the water again in the last heat of the day heat four of round three, and there was no let-up. Pacheco posted the second perfect 10 wave score of the day as well as a 9.0 (19.0 total) and Irons worked just as hard for two awesome tube rides that scored 9.5 and 8.25 (17.75 total).

“I thought I wasn_t going to make it because I fell on the one before that,” said Pacheco of his perfect 10 tube. “But my board held on. It feels like everything’s just spinning around you and right when you think you_re not going to make it, it spits you out.”

Irons was similarly thrilled with the heat and the level of surfing he and Brian are enjoying. “Pipeline with only three other guys out is incredible,” said Irons. “I’ve surfed with Brian my whole life, he’s a childhood friend so it was a blast out there, trading off waves. I’m really glad the title’s sewn up and I don_t have to stress about it. I’m feeling really good right now and this is all extra. It’s a bonus.”

With two surfers advancing together through the four-man heats, it is possible that Irons and Pacheco can take it all the way to the final together.

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“Brian’s pushing me 110 per cent, for sure. Every heat I think I’ve just barely squeaked in behind him, so I’m really playing catch-up with him, he’s surfing so well. The way things are going, we’ve got a good momentum and we_re feeding off each other and hopefully we can take the other two out all the way to the final.”

Heats 12 through 16 of round one, all eight heats of round two, and the first four of eig round three heats were run today. Organizers expect the final day of competition to get underway at 8am tomorrow morning, and the anticipation is already building. The first heat to hit the water will be the round three clash of 5-time Pipe Master Kelly Slater (USA), defending Pipe Master Bruce Irons (Hawaii), world number two Luke Egan (Australia), and Californian big-wave charger Taylor Knox.

Others to advance from round three to the quarter finals this-afternoon were Australians Mick Fanning, Taj Burrow, Lee Winkler and Daniel Wills, Brazilian Flavio Padaratz, and American Damien Hobgood.

Padaratz won both his matches today. First in a remaining round one heat, then the first third round clash against Taj Burrow (Aus), Shea Lopez (USA) and Fabio Gouveia (Brz). Needing a good result to re-qualify for the 2003 WCT, each heat is a crucial one for the Brazilian.

“I knew I needed a another solid wave,_ said Padaratz. “I saw Shea get his last one, so I could have been pushed out of second place. I’m just stoked I got it and a couple of barrels, as I don_t have many chances to go out there and catch many. It’s so intense out here, but that’s what makes this event such a special one.”

Hobgood also posted two convincing victories with a handful of epic tube rides. This afternoon he dominated Lee Winkler (Aus) in second place, while Michael Lowe (Aus) and Greg Emslie (SAfr) were eliminated.

“I’ve had some good rhythm out there today, said Hobgood. _The waves have been really fun. I’ve been riding a 7’0″ and it really drives well in the barrel and takes you to places you really need to go. I didn_t make a couple of barrels I wish I had and kind of got beat down. I elbowed the reef on one of them and hit my funny bone, but it wasn_t very funny.”

The Vans Triple Crown Series features the world’s top athletes competing in three championship events in each of the following sports: Skateboarding, Wakeboarding, Surfing, Snowboarding, BMX and Freestyle Motocross. The Series is made possible through proud sponsors Vans, Xbox, Mountain Dew, Ford Trucks, Right Guard Xtreme Sport, Fox Sports Net, Surfing Magazine and NBC Sports.

Official results of the Xbox Pipeline Masters
Round Three (1st/2nd>quarterfinals; 3rd=17th receives US$4,200; 4th=25th receives US$3,800)
H1: Flavio Padaratz (Brz) 12.85; Taj Burrow (Aus) 11.75; Shea Lopez (USA) 11.25; Fabio Gouveia (Brz) 6.75
H2: Damien Hobgood (USA) 17.25; Lee Winkler (Aus) 11.25; Michael Lowe (Aus) 10.0; Greg Emslie (SAfr) 5.0
H3: Mick Fanning (Aus) 14.1; Daniel Wills (Aus) 10.0; Dean Morrison (Aus) 9.5; Pat O_Connell (USA) 2.65
H4: Brian Pacheco (Haw) 19.0; Andy Irons (Haw) 17.75; Michael Campbell (Aus) 11.4; Nathan Hedge (Aus) 7.75

Round Two (1st/2nd>Rnd3; 3rd/4th=33rd receive US$3,000):
H1: Andy Irons (Haw) 17.9; Brian Pacheco (Haw) 17.8; Nathan Webster (Aus) 15.65; Beau Emerton (Aus) 13.0
H2: Luke Hitchings (Aus) 19.75; Joel Parkinson (Aus) 18.65; Rob Machado (USA) 15.0; Shane Powell (Aus) 3.05
H3: Dean Morrison (Aus) 14.5; Lee Winkler (Aus) 13.15; Mark Occhilupo (Aus) 9.85; Marcelo Nunes (Brz) 8.8
H4: Michael Lowe (Aus) 14.5; Sunny Garcia (Haw) 12.5; Guilherme Herdy (Brz) 11.6; Victor Ribas (Brz) 11.4
H5: Taj Burrow (Aus) 15.5; Pat O_Connell (USA) 15.25; Richie Lovett (Aus) 14.75; Rodrigo Dornelles (Brz) 7.85
H6: Renan Rocha (Brz) 12.6; Kalani Robb (Haw) 11.0; Darren O_Rafferty (Aus) 5.3; Neco Padaratz (Brz) 3.7
H7: Kieren Perrow (Aus) 15.35; Fabio Gouveia (Brz) 13.75; Peterson Rosa (Brz) 11.8; Phil MacDonald (Aus) 4.9
H8: Cory Lopez (USA) 13.75; Shea Lopez (USA) 13.25; Paul Canning (SAfr) 10.95; Maz Quinn (NZ) 4.75

Remaining round one heats (1st>Rnd3; 2nd/3rd>Rnd2):
H12: Flavio Padaratz (Brz) 13.0; Cory Lopez (USA) 8.0; Maz Quinn (NZ) 4.35
H13: Shane Dorian (Haw) 16.75; Shea Lopez (USA) 8.3; Fabio Gouveia (Brz) 5.5
H14: Russell Winter (UK) 9.25; Luke Hitchings (Aus) 8.55; Peterson Rosa (Brz) 3.75
H15: Damien Hobgood (USA) 18.4; Renan Rocha (Brz) 11.65; Dean Morrison (Aus) 6.6
H16: Jake Paterson (Aus) 15.75; Guilherme Herdy (Brz) 12.15; Pat O_Connell (USA) 12.05

Draw for remaining round three heats:
H5: Luke Egan (Aus), Bruce Irons (Haw), Kelly Slater (USA), Taylor Knox (USA)
H6: Kalani Robb (Haw), Renan Rocha (Brz), Kieren Perrow (Aus), Luke Hitchings (Aus)
H7: Joel Parkinson (Aus), Paulo Moura (Brz), Jake Paterson (Aus), Sunny Garcia (Haw)
H8: CJ Hobgood (USA), Russell Winter (UK), Cory Lopez (USA), Shane Dorian (Haw)

For updates, status and other information: www.triplecrownofsurfing.comm & www.aspworldtour.com

Xbox Gerry Lopez Pipeline Masters Hotline: +1-808-638-5024

Jesse Faen, ASP Int_l Media Director: jesse@aspworldtour.com
On-site media trailer in Hawaii: Jodi Young: +1-(808)-258-8533; oceanpromotion@earthlink.net
Mainland Media Inquiries – Mike Kingsbury (MKM): +1-(714)-375-2188
Digital images will be available free of charge from Pierre Tostee/ASP: tostee@aspworldtour.com
3.75
H15: Damien Hobgood (USA) 18.4; Renan Rocha (Brz) 11.65; Dean Morrison (Aus) 6.6
H16: Jake Paterson (Aus) 15.75; Guilherme Herdy (Brz) 12.15; Pat O_Connell (USA) 12.05

Draw for remaining round three heats:
H5: Luke Egan (Aus), Bruce Irons (Haw), Kelly Slater (USA), Taylor Knox (USA)
H6: Kalani Robb (Haw), Renan Rocha (Brz), Kieren Perrow (Aus), Luke Hitchings (Aus)
H7: Joel Parkinson (Aus), Paulo Moura (Brz), Jake Paterson (Aus), Sunny Garcia (Haw)
H8: CJ Hobgood (USA), Russell Winter (UK), Cory Lopez (USA), Shane Dorian (Haw)

For updates, status and other information: www.triplecrownofsurfing.comm & www.aspworldtour.com

Xbox Gerry Lopez Pipeline Masters Hotline: +1-808-638-5024

Jesse Faen, ASP Int_l Media Director: jesse@aspworldtour.com
On-site media trailer in Hawaii: Jodi Young: +1-(808)-258-8533; oceanpromotion@earthlink.net
Mainland Media Inquiries – Mike Kingsbury (MKM): +1-(714)-375-2188
Digital images will be available free of charge from Pierre Tostee/ASP: tostee@aspworldtour.com