Xbox Pipe Masters Comes Alive In Solid Surf

(Sunday, December 16, 2001) — Oahu’s Banzai Pipeline lived up to its bone-rattling reputation today and all in good time for the start of the Xbox Pipeline Masters. At dawn this-morning, the oceanfront of the North Shore was as flat as it had been for the past week, but there were the early stirrings of a fast-rising swell. By 8:30 a.m. and the start of the first round, waves were already pushing in with 15 foot faces (full face value). By mid-afternoon, it had stepped up to a whole new level with closeout sets reaching full-face heights of up to 20 feet.


While competitors rolled the dice on late take-offs, hideous wipeouts and successful tube rides they’ll remember for life, the sea of spectators and photographers were dished up their own serving of nervous excitement. Erupting with shouts of horror and delight depending upon the outcome of each ride, they were also chased back from the shoreline time and again by giant waves that washed up the beach cleaning up belongings and equipment.

Legendary local Pipeline surfer Michael Ho, winner of the Pipeline Masters back in 1982 and a finalist 15 years later in ’97, was the first casualty of the day. On his first ride in the first heat, Ho took a bad wipeout and dislocated his shoulder, eliminating himself from the tournament.

“I went to grab my rail (to pull into the tube) but I guess I hit some chop (on the face of the wave),” said 45-year-old Ho. “I got pinned flat to the bottom and the whitewater ripped me apart. My one arm and leg stayed put while the rest of me was pulled. I went to grab my board and I thought my arm was broken. I’ve never had an injury this radical. I’ve never been disjointed before – it was the gnarliest pain ever.”


It was surely no honeymoon for popular Pipeline charger Shane Dorian, married last night and wiping out on some of the biggest waves on offer today. Dorian injured both feet after a succession of hammering wipeouts that also broke off two of the fins in his surfboard. In the same treacherous heat, rookie Pipeliner Danny Fuller had the contest jersey ripped from his body during a tube-ride.

“I took off on that one wave, the same one that broke two fins out of my board, and it drove me down so hard,” said 29-year-old Dorian. “I could barely even stand up on the wave I took off on after that and that was it.” Dorian needed only a couple of points to progress through that heat with Fuller and David Cantrell, but couldn’t continue.

Two heats prior to Dorian’s, Kauai’s Andy Irons posted the top heat score of the day with a sterling performance that made the highly challenging conditions look like a kiddie pool. Irons broke the leash of his surfboard on his first ride and was forced to shore to retrieve his board and tie on a new leash. But he managed to maintain his composure and string together the best heat of the day – 22.9 points out of 30. In progressing, Irons has kept his chance of winning the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing series title ($15,000 bonus) alive. With the elimination of current Series leader Myles Padaca today, Irons has a strong chance along with Australia’s Mick Fanning, who also progressed today.


With this year’s unique invitation-only format, former champions, local rookie chargers, Pipeline specialists and the best of the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Championship Tour (WCT) are on center stage. Among them, one of the best Pipeline surfers ever: Australian Tom Carroll, who won the event in 1987, 1990 and 1991. A world renowned glutton for punishment when it comes to extreme surfing, Carroll was in Hawaii just five months ago to make the 32-mile open ocean paddleboard race between the islands of Molokai and Oahu. Today, baring the visible scars of decades of surfing the Pipeline, Carroll put his 40 years of age on the side to post one of the highest scoring tube-rides of the event so far – a near-perfect 9.5 points.

“I haven’t pushed the issue of trying to t a wildcard entry or a trials start into this event in previous years, because there has always been so much at stake in terms of other surfers’ careers. I didn’t want to get in the way,” said Carroll, who can clearly still hold his own here. “But with this year’s format, I was ecstatic with the start.

“I was happy to start off the event like that (with a 9.5). The board I rode today was made for these kinds of conditions. It’s like a hot knife through butter.

“It’s kind of a surreal feeling right now. I never figured I’d be surfing this event at 40 years old. I kind of have to break the ice each time I come here. I’ve got to reestablish myself. This place is very bittersweet, it covers the full spectrum of emotions for me. It’s an incredible arena to surf in. You’ve just got to get out there and get amongst it.”

Japan’s Naohisa Ogawa was also living proof of the value of this year’s Pipe Masters format. Not even ranked on the ASP’s World Championship Tour, Ogawa has been a strong performer at Pipeline for many winters. He was a popular international selection for the event this year and won over the 5000-strong crowd with a perfect 10-point tube-ride and a subsequent 9.8-point tube. Nick-named the ‘Silver Bullet’ for his rookie days at Pipeline wearing a silver helmet, Ogawa was just as eye-catching today.

“A peak came to me and I just had to paddle and concentrate. I made the drop and then after that I just hoped I would make it out of the tube,” Ogawa said of the huge 15-foot wave he rode to a perfect score. “When I was young, it was a dream to surf the Pipeline Masters and now I’m here. My body and mind are so good right now, so I’ll just keep trying.”

Whether it was a dream ride or a nightmare, both ends of the scale were tipped today and those who were fortunate enough to witness it first-hand were clearly the winners.

The 2001 Xbox Pipeline Masters will be showcased on network television next weekend, airing on NBC sports on Sunday, December 23, 2001, at 3:00 p.m. EST. The show will feature all the action and drama of this year’s event as well as historical highlights from the past 30 years of the Pipeline Masters.

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, Freestyle Motocross and Supercross. The Series is made possible through proud sponsors Xbox, Mountain Dew, Ford Ranger, Right Guard Xtreme Sport, G-Shock, Transworld Media, Fox Sports Net and NBC Sports.

The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing is made possible by the additional support of Rip Curl, Quiksilver Roxy, Billabong, Surfrider Foundation, the Association of Surfing Professionals and the Hawaiian Visitors Bureau.

*** For video highlights of early round action, click on the Video icon on the top right of this screen.


Heat 1: Tamayo Perry (Haw) 14.25, Didier Piter (Fra) 2.75, Michael Ho (Haw) .30

H2: Pancho Sullivan (Haw) 17.75, Michael Lowe (Aus) 8.5, Joel Tudor (USA) 2.75

H3: Kalani Robb (Haw) 21.75, Jamie O1Brien (Haw) 15.25, Carlos Cabrero (Prco) 7.6

H4: Tom Carroll (Aus) 16.35, Takayuki Wakita (Jpn) 6.90, Manoa Drollet (Tah) 4.6

H5: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 15.65, Braden Dias (Haw) 11.75, Christian Fletcher (USA) 3.75

H6: Rocky Cannon (Haw) 13.75, John Gomes (Haw) 9.2, Cory Lopez (USA) 8.15

H7: Fred Patacchia (Haw) 10.35, Sunny Garcia (Haw) 10.15, Strider Wasilewski (USA) 9.25

H8: Rob Machado (USA) 21.85, Rizal Tandjung (Indo) 13.75, Randall Paulson (Haw) 13.55

H9: Kelly Slater (USA) 14.5, Mark Healey (Haw) 12.1, Trent Munro (Aus) 1.85

H10: Andy Irons (Haw) 22.9, Jamie Sterling (Haw) 17.25, Paul Canning (SAfr) 7.15

H11: Jake Paterson (Aus) 16.75, Liam McNamara (Haw) 10.85, Jesse Merle-Jones (Haw) 3.15

H12: Danny Fuller (Haw) 15.5, David Cantrell (Haw) 7.05, Shane Dorian (Haw) 6.15

H13: Shea Lopez (USA) 16.35, Mick Fanning (Aus) 13.5, Derek Ho (Haw) 10.95

H14: Renan Rocha (Brz) 13.5, Damien Hobgood (USA) 10.75, Brian Pacheco (Haw) 4.9

H15: Luke Egan (Aus) 20.1, Jonah Morgan (Haw) 16.0, Myles Padaca (Haw) 6.0

H16: Naohisa Ogawa (Jpn) 2.55, Bruce Irons (Haw) 20.25, Mark Occhilupo (Aus) 10.75w) 6.15

H13: Shea Lopez (USA) 16.35, Mick Fanning (Aus) 13.5, Derek Ho (Haw) 10.95

H14: Renan Rocha (Brz) 13.5, Damien Hobgood (USA) 10.75, Brian Pacheco (Haw) 4.9

H15: Luke Egan (Aus) 20.1, Jonah Morgan (Haw) 16.0, Myles Padaca (Haw) 6.0

H16: Naohisa Ogawa (Jpn) 2.55, Bruce Irons (Haw) 20.25, Mark Occhilupo (Aus) 10.75