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Kieren Perrow Wins The Pipe Masters; John John Takes Home The Vans Triple Crown
The third and final day of the 2011 Billabong Pipe Masters In Memory Of Andy Irons lacked the third reef clean up sets that we'd been seeing here the previous two days but packed more drama and excitement than anyone could have imagined.
Stiff trade winds made for blustery conditions and despite a drop in the swell, Pipe and Backdoor were as ferocious as ever. The day kicked off with Jamie O'Brien matched up against Joel Parkinson. Despite the fact that those are two of the best in the business out there, it was a slow heat with Parko taking the win over JOB. The highlight of that he would have to be Jamie inviting the entire world via the webcast to a party at his house on the sand at Pipe.
Up next was a matchup for the ages—John John versus Kelly Slater. John John started off with a good Pipe wave and backed it up with a couple long barrels at Backdoor but made a crucial mistake when he took off on an average wave at Backdoor, thus giving up priority with just a few minutes left. At that point John John had the 11-Time World Champion combed. But this is Kelly the dream killer and as time wound down he managed to snag two foamy barrels at Backdoor that got him past the crowd favorite. John John's Pipe Masters run was over just like that.
Moving into the semifinals I snagged a front row seat on the porch at the Quiksilver house as Parko and Slater paddled out. Right when the heat started Quiksilver CEO sat down next to me and began rooting for his star team rider. That's when the debate started. "Who do you think won that exchange?" he asked me after Parko and Kelly both has back-to-back rides. "Parko for sure, he got way deeper." McKnight scoffed at my words but admitted that he's biased as all hell. "God damn it!" were his words as Slater went down to Parko. I left with a 'told you so' smirk. Kelly was slapping the water and pissed as he felt he was underscored, but that wasn't the case and Parko moved into the final along with blue collar Aussie workhorse Kieren Perrow who dispatched Michel Bourez from Tahiti.
Just as the final paddled out, a rainsquall belted the lineup and beach, making the surf messier and the crowd on the beach scrambling for cover. KP nailed a couple good ones at Backdoor right off the bat and Parko was never able to catch up. For Kieren it marked his first WCT victory in a career that has spanned nearly 20 years. It couldn't have happened to a more respected and hard charging surfer—the guy is a gladiator!
As for the Triple Crown, it was up in the air and between John John and Michel Bourez until Kieren beat the Tahitian and the second most sought after title in surfing went to John John Florence. Congrats to both KP and John John, those two smashed themselves off the reef, took out a few of the best ever, and most importantly, probably had Andy Irons cheering for them both from heaven above.—Justin Coté
ASP Press Release: BANZAI PIPELINE, Oahu/Hawaii (Saturday, December 10, 2011) – Kieren Perrow (AUS), 34, has won his inaugural ASP World Tour event, taking out the Billabong Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons over fellow countrymen Joel Parkinson (AUS), 30, in four-to-six foot waves. John John Florence (HAW), 19, also found his way to the podium as the overall winner of the 2011 Vans Triple Crown.
Perrow, who finished runner-up to Jeremy Flores (FRA), 23, in last year's Billabong Pipe Masters, returned to form again this year and charged the massive Pipeline conditions on the opening two days of competition to solidify his position on the 2012 ASP World Tour. The Australian was equally deadly in the smaller conditions on the final day and commanded the Final against Parkinson in a backdoor shootout to secure his maiden ASP World Tour victory.
"It took me up until now to get over getting second to Jeremy last year" Perrow said. "It's so good to get back here. I just felt so comfortable the whole time. I've had such a great event anyway and coming in to today, it was just amazing. The waves have been phenomenal. I haven't surfed Pipe like that in my entire career. This is pretty much the pinnacle for me."
Parkinson, a multiple Vans Triple Crown Winner, came close to clinching his first Billabong Pipe Masters Title, but was unable to find a rhythm in the Final against Perrow. "It's a hard one to lose because you've only got one guy to beat and you've beaten so many, but it's the hardest one to win," Parkinson said. "I couldn't think of anyone more deserving than Kieren (Perrow). He's a true Pipe Master and one of the best guys out there and I'm so glad he won."
Parkinson battled his way into the Final with a hard fought victory over Kelly Slater (USA), 39, in their Semifinals clash. After a series of exciting exchanges, the Australian was in need of an 8.21 with just minutes remaining and Parkinson drove through a barrel on his backhand to secure an 8.60 and his Final berth. "I knew my work was cut out for me," Parkinson said. "Surfing against Kelly (Slater) is the biggest thing you can do. After he got that 9, I thought, 'here we go.' I thought he peaked against John John and he was just at it again. That wave just came to me. It was one of those situations where you forget about everything else, am I in the right position, am I doing anything right. Conditions are not perfect at all, but there are some really good waves."
Kelly Slater took an amazing come from behind heat win in his Quarterfinals matchup against lethal Pipeline local John John Florence (HAW), 19. The Floridian was in need of a combination of 16.70 to overtake Florence with just three minutes remaining on the clock, and maintained his composure, threading the needle on two back-to-back backdoor barrels for a 9.70 and a 7.83 to surpass the young Hawaiian en route to the Semifinals.
"I was just going to try and have some fun because I didn't want to run and I thought we'd find another day," Slater said. "I figured I'd try and get in that head space and I'd ride a short board and I actually got a really good left and my board was wrong for it. I thought it was going to cost me the heat. It just came to me in last three-or-four minutes. I'm just trying to hold John John (Florence)at bay because he's going to rule Pipe for the next 20 years. I just want to get a couple before I'm done. He's been the man to beat out here. He's had two 10s and a couple of high 9's." Slater put on another strong effort in his Semifinals clash against Parkinson, but was unable to surpass the Gold Coast native and finished equal 3rd overall.
"Joel controlled it from the beginning with a 7 to start," Slater said. "He was holding position from there. I got the 5 and we were in the cycle where he had priority besides that one that I got that 9 on. I'm super surprised that he got both of his good scores on the lefts because we're usually looking at the right on days like today. He was just in sync with it and there's not much you can do about that."
Michel Bourez (PYF), 25, who was rated 3rd on the Vans Triple Crown ratings entering the Billabong Pipe Masters, needed to advance to the Final to surpass Florence on the ratings, but finished painfully close when he lost to Perrow in the Semifinals. Despite falling short of the Vans Triple Crown Title, the equal 3rd place finish marks the Tahitian's best result of the year. "It was a painful way to lose, especially when there weren't many waves out there," Bourez said. "I wish I won the Triple Crown, but it happens sometimes. It's good for the confidence and a good result for the end of the year. It's good to make the Semifinals, but I just wanted one good barrel out there and it never happened."
John John Florence put on an amazing show at this year's Billabong Pipe Masters, taking the event's only two perfect 10-point rides, but fell to Slater in the Quarterfinals. Florence's overall effort including a win at the Vans World Cup of Surfing at Sunset Beach and a 5th place at the Reef Hawaiian Pro secured his first Vans Triple Crown win, making him the youngest competitor in history to win the prestigious series.
"I'm so stoked to be here, I've been surfing these waves my entire life and watching everyone over the years," Florence said. "I'm so happy that I won this and to have my name with everyone else who has won over the years. I just want to say thanks to my Mom and Pancho Sullivan and John Pyzel and all my sponsors. Thanks to everyone." For highlights of the 2011 Billabong Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons log on to billabongpipemasters2011
Billabong Pipe Masters Final Result:
1 – Kieren Perrow (AUS) 13.17
2 – Joel Parkinson (AUS) 7.00
Billabong Pipe Masters Semifinals Results:
SF 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 17.23 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 16.83
SF 2: Kieren Perrow (AUS) 12.00 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 4.07
Billabong Pipe Masters Quarterfinals Results:
QF 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 12.00 def. Jamie O'Brien (HAW) 9.43
QF 2: Kelly Slater (USA) 17.53 def. John John Florence (HAW) 16.70
QF 3: Michel Bourez (PYF) 7.70 def. Evan Valiere (HAW) 3.66
QF 4: Kieren Perrow (AUS) 17.23 def. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 9.26