BANZAI PIPELINE, Oahu/Hawaii (Friday, December 9, 2011) – The Billabong Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons ran for the second consecutive day in firing 10-foot (3-4 metre) Pipeline and today’s action saw local talent John John Florence (HAW), 19, post the event’s highest scores while the contest’s Quarterfinalists were decided.
The final stop on the 2011 ASP World Title Series, the Billabong Pipe Masters also marks the final jewel of the prestigious Vans Triple Crown.
John John Florence, current leader on the Vans Triple Crown ratings, further asserted his dominance among the field today, securing both the event’s highest heat-total of a near perfect 19.10, out of 20, in Round 3 and eventually went on to seal his second 10-point ride in Round 4.
“That 10 was just a perfect double-up, I just held my line and it was sick,” Florence said. “The waves keep coming in and they’re so perfect. It’s so fun being out there with three guys and I want to go on every wave.”
The young Hawaiian’s flawless score was earned compliments of a deep no-grab backside barrel, which saw the natural-footer relegate ASP World Champions Kelly Slater (USA), 39, and C.J. Hobgood (USA), 32, to Round 5 while advancing directly to the Quarterfinals.
“I was so nervous going in to that heat because C.J. (Hobgood) and Kelly (Slater) are so gnarly,” Florence said. “I’ve looked up to those guys and it’s fun surfing against them. I think it’s the second time I’ve surfed against Kelly and it’s the first time I’ve beaten him. This is definitely a dream surfing my home break with three guys out and beating Kelly, I’m so stoked.”
Kieren Perrow (AUS), 34, kept his ASP Dream Tour campaign alive with another valiant effort at Pipeline today. Perrow, who needed a 5th place result to maintain his position among the elite for next year, charged back to life in his Round 4 heat to overtake Shane Dorian (HAW), 39, with a near-perfect 9.83 barrel-ride, securing both his berth in to the Billabong Pipe Masters Quarterfinals and his position on the ASP Top 34 for 2012.
“I just can’t event believe it, I thought it was done, especially after Shane got that first one,” Perrow said. “You just never give up really. That wave came and I just had my toes on the tail trying to make that drop. I knew Shane only needed a low score so it wasn’t over by any means. It means the world not having to surf a man-on-man heat because winning that guarantees me for next year. Now I can just go home and get some rest and try and win this thing tomorrow.”
Kelly Slater (USA), 39, got the best of a low-scoring battle over Hawaiian talent Marcus Hickman (HAW) after taking several ugly wipeouts during the affair in his Round 3 bout and despite falling to Florence in Round 4, returned to form in Round 5 with some amazing Pipe barrels of his own to earn his Quarterfinals berth.
“I just didn’t get in sync in those in those first couple of heats,” Slater said. “In the first one I was really off. John John was in sync in that next one and being in the right position here is only a matter of a few feet. You’re either in the right spot or not and when it’s a guy’s heat it’s his heat. I got breathed off on the first wave I took in that last heat and Kalani (Chapman) got a good one and I got cleaned up. I was thinking ‘This probably isn’t a good way to start a heat.’ I was patient after that. I got that first one and the second was just a better wave. That one was nice and open.”
Slater, an 18-year veteran of the elite ASP World Tour, is still fired up to compete at the Billabong Pipe Masters after nearly two full decades of competition at the perilous Hawaiian barrel.
“I love this event,” Slater said. “Ask everyone on tour and they’ll probably say it’s their favorite. You get the chance to surf Pipe with a few guys out and have your pick. All young surfers look at it and dream about it. I had a picture on my wall of Pipeline and I thought I’ll never catch a wave like that, so to surf it with one guy with priority, it’s awesome.”
Michel Bourez (PYF), 25, current No. 3 on the Vans Triple Crown ratings, kept his hopes of winning the prestigious Hawaiian title alive today when he scalped two heat victories in the firing Pipeline conditions to earn his spot in the Quarterfinals.
“Winning a Triple Crown would mean to world to me,” Bourez said. “After the World Title, everyone wants to win the Triple Crown. It’s really hard though, because John John (Florence) is leading and he’s on fire right now. It’s going to be an exciting finish for sure.”
Evan Valiere (HAW), 28, continued to dismantle top ranked surfers again today, besting Owen Wright (AUS), 21, and former Billabong Pipe Masters Champion Taj Burrow (AUS), 33, via his immaculate forehand barrel-riding skills.
“When I was watching the heat before mine I didn’t think there would be that many waves out there,” Valiere said. “It seemed like it was set-after-set in that heat and we were having lots of fun. It’s just really exciting to get that barrel and I’m putting everything I have in to it.”
Gabriel Medina (BRA), 17, current ASP World Tour rookie, is well-known for pushing the boundaries of high-performance aerial surfing, but proved he can easily adapt in all conditions when he took out two heat victories in barreling Pipeline to advance to the Quarterfinals today.
“That was a fun heat with three guys in the water,” Medina said. “I’m just stoked to be here. This is my first contest at Pipe and I’m so happy. It’s amazing to be out there. I’ve been here for a month and yesterday was the first day Pipe was breaking. This is only my second day at Pipe and I’m trying out my boards now. Yesterday I got some waves and I feel confident and hopefully I can get some better waves in my next heat.”
Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow morning at 7am local time for a possible 8am start and will possibly crown a 2011 Billabong Pipe Masters Champion by day’s end. For all of the LIVE action log on to www.vanstriplecrownofsurfing.com/billabongpipemasters2011
Billabong Pipe Masters Round 3 Results:
Heat 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 7.34 def. Aamion Goodwin (HAW) 5.03
Heat 2: Kalani Chapman (HAW) 10.27 def. Dusty Payne (HAW) 6.83
Heat 3: Jamie O’Brien (HAW) 6.46 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 4.10
Heat 4: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 8.40 def. Julian Wilson (AUS) 6.83
Heat 5: John John Florence (HAW) 19.10 def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 14.40
Heat 6: Kelly Slater (USA) 9.50 def. Marcus Hickman (HAW) 3.56
Heat 7: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 12.77 def. Travis Logie (ZAF) 2.27
Heat 8: Michel Bourez (PYF) 6.40 def. Adam Melling (AUS) 5.90
Heat 9: Evan Valiere (HAW) 16.14 def. Owen Wright (AUS) 15.67
Heat 10: Shane Dorian (HAW) 11.24 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 5.66
Heat 11: Kieren Perrow (AUS) 18.73 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 11.60
Heat 12: Taj Burrow (AUS) 8.93 def. Ian Walsh (HAW) 5.36
Billabong Pipe Masters Non-Elimination Round 4 Results:
Heat 1: Jamie O’Brien (HAW) 13.92, Joel Parkinson (AUS) 12.06, Kalani Chapman (HAW) 12.00
Heat 2: John John Florence (HAW) 17.67, Kelly Slater (USA) 8.50, C.J. Hobgood (USA) 5.43
Heat 3: Michel Bourez (PYF) 13.10, Evan Valiere (HAW) 10.84, Gabriel Medina (BRA) 8.17
Heat 4: Kieren Perrow (AUS) 13.66, Shane Dorian (HAW) 11.87, Taj Burrow (AUS) 7.83
Billabong Pipe Masters Round 5 Results:
Heat 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 12.83 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 7.74
Heat 2: Kelly Slater (USA) 16.80 def. Kalani Chapman (HAW) 14.33
Heat 3: Evan Valiere (HAW) 16.03 def. Taj Burrow (AUS) 10.87
Heat 4: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 9.23 def. Shane Dorian (HAW) 2.30
Upcoming Billabong Pipe Masters Quarterfinals Heats:
Heat 1: Jamie O’Brien (HAW) vs. Joel Parkinson (AUS)
Heat 2: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Kelly Slater (USA)
Heat 3: Michel Bourez (PYF) vs. Evan Valiere (HAW)
Heat 4: Kieren Perrow (AUS) vs. Gabriel Medina (BRA)