Lines of Pipe. Photo: Brent Bielmann
The 2015 Billabong Pipeline Masters starts back up tomorrow. If the buoys aren’t lying, it’ll be big. Scary big. And full of consequence — not just the type that involves flesh, reef and a trip to the emergency room in Kahuku.
Careers are on the line. There are still a handful of surfers that need a big result to re-qualify and have I mentioned the World Title race? The main contenders are matched up against Pipe specialists and now, after a long year with 11 stops in 8 different nations, the summation of 2015 is somewhere in the depths of the Pacific and heading towards the North Shore with the fury of an ancient army.
Suffice to say, tomorrow is a big day. Here are some questions to consider while you’re taking it all in. In case you get caught watching the webcast at work, at least you’ll have a storyline or two to relay to your boss.
Is Mick Fanning going to retire? There have been rumbles that if Mick wins the Title this year, he’s done. Retired. Straight to Australia’s best sculptor to get his likeness reproduced in bronze for the Surfing Hall of Fame.
It might not be a bad call. Another Title would bring him to a total of four, ahead of both Tom Curren and Andy Irons in the all-time tally. He’d get to fuss less and spend more time at home with his wife, his dog and his Superbank.
Although personally, I don’t much like the idea of Mick off Tour. I feel like he’d be like a veteran having a hard time returning from ‘Nam. You’d spot him naked in the bushes of Coolangatta, face painted in Vertra, clutching his World Title trophy like an assault rifle. Or trying to check in for his next heat at the local coffee shop. Or wandering the streets mumbling “What’s the call Kieran, what’s the call Kieran, what’s the call Kieran…”
Does Filipe Toledo charge? It might not be insanely big, but it will certainly be big enough to scare the shit out of people. With a World Title on the line, Filipe surfs against Mason Ho — probably the hardest man to read in the history of heats. After a 0-point heat total at Teahupo’o earlier this year, Filipe knows the world will be watching him. So, what’ll he show them?
Will John John Florence finally win Pipe Masters? It’s still early in his career, but John still deserves that trophy by now. If he doesn’t win in the next three years, I could see it going the way of Leonardo DiCaprio and the Oscars — he’ll keep on putting forth insane performances only to have the Pipe Masters Title find a way to elude him forever…
Who’s going to re-qualify? There are a lot of people on the bubble — Sebastian Zietz, Adam Melling, and Jadson Andre for example — and Pipe will be handing out pink slips. The WSL will surely keep you updated on that throughout the day. I have faith in you Joe, I really do.
Will Adriano de Souza win a World Title? There probably isn’t a man in the history of surfing that has wanted to win as badly as ADS. And now, he’s here. So close that he can pretty much taste the champagne that he’d likely spit out because he’s already thinking about training for next year. He’s staying at his coach, Jamie O’Brien’s house (heard of him?), so he’s certainly got the right minds in his corner.
I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. —Brendan Buckley