John John Florence Finds Perfection on Day 1 of the Billabong Pipe Masters
Detonating 15- to 20-foot waves at Banzai Pipeline got the blood pumping on the beach and spilling in the water for day one of the Billabong Pipe Masters, and a spirited demonstration of perfect surfing by 19-year-old John John Florence (Hawaii) got the emotions flowing. A maximum capacity crowd turned out to see what the North Shore's rising star could do on the biggest swell of the winter and they weren't disappointed. Florence showed why he is the leader of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing ratings, presented by Rock Star Energy Drink, picking up where he left off after winning the Vans World Cup at Sunset Beach last week. The Billabong Pipe Masters is the third and final jewel of the Vans Triple Crown.
Scored on their best two waves in each 40 minute heat, the majority of surfers struggled to lock in two solid scores in the deadly, barreling waves. But Florence and a handful of Pipe locals rallied with incredible performances that saw them streak ahead. Florence notched up not two, but five great tube rides in his heat. His top two totaled 18.16 out of 20, including a perfect 10 for two deep and successful tube rides on a single wave.
The top six heat scores came from local Pipeline specialists today: Evan Valiere (18.16); Florence; Marcus Hickman (16.5); Ian Walsh (16.06); and Jamie O'Brien (14.77).
Heats were 40 minutes long, and two heats ran concurrently, sharing the lineup. In round one, O'Brien set to work against Dane Reynolds (California), sharing the lineup with a heat between Australian Laurie Towner and Kolohe Andino (California). He watched on in horror as Towner took the worst wipeout of the day, slipping from his board and skimming inside of the barrel before being annihilated by the cracking lip. He was removed by jetski from the lineup with a dislocated shoulder, shredded knee and punctured foot.
Freestone (Australia) was given a wildcard into the event and gained experience at a high price, almost breaking his leg.
"It was crazy, it's really big," said Freestone. "I took off on a wave and air dropped, and got sucked straight over the falls onto my board. I thought I broke my leg or cut it real bad, but it's the best memory ever. It's your typical 'welcome to Pipeline'. Everyone does it on their first time... gets their beat down. It's amazing."
Organizers expect competition to resume tomorrow in similar conditions.
Heat 1 : Marcus Hickman (HAW) 13.67pts ; Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 9.46pts
Heat 2 : CJ Hobgood (USA) 6.50pts ; Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) .60pts
Heat 3 : Evan Valiere (HAW) 18.16pts ; Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 6.00pts
Heat 4 : Travi Logie (ZAF) 3.57pts ; Bruce Irons (HAW) 2.70pts
Heat 5 : Ian Walsch (HAW) 13.00pts ; Kai Otton (AUS) 11.63pts
Heat 6 : Kai Barger (HAW) 9.93pts ; Chris Davidson (AUS) 6.33pts
Heat 7 : Amion Goodwin (HAW) 10.34pts ; Daniel Ross (AUS) 2.84pts
Heat 8 : Jamie O'Brien (HAW) 14.77pts ; Dane Reynolds (USA) 3.24pts
Heat 9 : Kolohe Andino (HAW) 5.27pts ; Laurie Towner (AUS) 1.17pts
Heat 10 : Shane Dorian (HAW) 6.40pts ; Wilian Cardoso (BRA) 1.94pts
Heat 11 : Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 4.76pts ;