The circus has left country. The North Shore. It is quiet here but waves still pump and wind still blows and menace still floats in the air. Many of our top surfers dragged themselves in from the sea and required stitches or shoulders to be set back into torsos. Slaps.
The whole of the Triple Crown was, in fact, amazing. Amazing to see an airshow at Haleiwa. Amazing to see Sunset turn into 1940s naval films. And those first two days of Pipeline? Beyond amazing.
John John deserves to wear his glory with pride. He surfed like none other. But every soul who paddled out at Pipe during those first two days is equally worthy of our praise. Julian Wilson, for example. He is a pretty blonde from Australia known for aerial prowess. But he. My goodness. He sat out the back during his heat and waited for bombs. And when they came he elevator dropped down down down and set his rail and got barreled. Bombs. Waves that made those witnessing from the beach wince and turn away in fear. It was not enough for him to survive. When he came in after a close loss he was angry that he did not win. Julian Wilson became a fully-fledged hellman on the North Shore.
And Evan Valiere. He teaches surf lessons during his off time but during the contest he defeated stand-outs Fredrick P., Owen Wright and Taj Burrow. He raced all the way to the quarterfinals with gorgeous wave selection and a perfect tube stance. A working-man’s competitor, even though he is certainly the most handsome of any surfer in the top two hundred (minus Julian Wilson).
And Kolohe Andino. The biggest set of the day, and maybe ever, washed up just as he was to paddle out for his Pipeline heat. He had to stand there and feel the thunder through the sand. But paddle out he did. And drop in he did. And get pounded he did. He braved and he surfed and he surfed well. I want to see Kolohe surf more Pipe. I want to see him paddle out with Jamie O’Brien (who continues to make any size Pipe look playful) and take Jamie’s waves and learn to own each and every ripple. Jamie would get compensated, of course, for letting Kolohe have his waves. The rare win-win.
Yes, the circus has left but we have memories and what sweet memories they are. Men were made. John John was crowned. Kieren Perrow stayed on tour with the gutsiest win and became a hero to underdogs the world over. Syrians carry banners featuring his visage. —Chas Smith