A voice boomed from the loudspeakers, trying in vain to echo off the sometimes pale, sometimes perfect bodies on the beach. “We’re going on a 15-minute hold,” it promised. After an hour of a 15-minute hold, the 2015 Billabong Pipeline Masters was called off for the day.
The simple explanation is that the waves really weren’t any good. The more complex explanation is that Filipe Toledo, with a World Title on the line, was supposed to surf in the first heat of Round 2 against Bruce Irons and didn’t think the wave could hold all that weight — he never even showed up to grab his jersey.
It was an interesting scene. Bruce checked in and paddled out, waiting for the heat to start, and Filipe was nowhere to be found. That fibbing loudspeaker voice kept calling his name and asking him to show up — again, in vain. I spied Filipe’s father, Ricardo, yelling in both sound and gesticulation on the bike path at one pint. Although he tends to always seem enthused.
In the end, I’d say the right call was made. The best wave I saw ridden at Pipe in that hour would have maybe been good for a 4.17. And while that wasn’t the overall tune of the day, it definitely accounted for a couple of notes. Bede Durbidge won a heat with a 2.84 total at one point. But at another point, CJ Hobgood got a 10. This is what it looked like.
It’s the last official CT contest of CJ’s career — smart money would be on him getting a wildcard at some point (I see you Cloudbreak), but he’ll no longer be a full-time Tour surfer after this year. And to think, he kicked off his last event by getting a 10 at Pipe against Kelly Slater. Actually don’t think about it. Instead, read what he thought.
“I just wanted to enjoy the experience of that heat, especially because it might have been my last one against the best athlete in the world. After getting that wave, the emotions were too much to handle and I kind of went into out of body experience. It was like I was watching it go down and I was just a fan. I feel like it wasn’t even me and I’m just along for the ride.”
We are, too — just maybe without doing that whole part where you have to backdoor a grumpy, psychotic wave at Pipe. Should be a great event. —Brendan Buckley
The contest is likely to run in dual heat format tomorrow in waves smaller and cleaner than today, then wait for a new swell to fill in Tuesday/Wednesday of next week.