It’s about time
About time. But also about waves and sand. The Northwest swells that graced the early days of the waiting period were a little too big and a little too north, and the sand that has set up camp in the Pipe channel is abundant and annoying, clamping the lefts and what not. And so it wasn’t until today, when the swell faded and someone unlocked the Backdoor, that day 1 of the Billabong Pipeline Masters was able to get underway.
Oh yeah, the trials. They final ran just before round 1. Reef McIntosh was victorious, Makai McNamara got second, Jamie O’Brien third and Hank Gaskell fourth. So the Daddy Mcs made it into the main event buuuuut — but — if Travis Logie doesn’t show up for his Round 2 heat (he skipped round 1 because of an injury), then Jamie O will sneak in. The entire WCT is praying for Travis.
Blah, blah, blah. Is there a new world champ?
Kelly Slater lost to Adam Melling, the whitest dark horse in all the aina, when Melling surfed a 4-minute heat at Backdoor to win by a nose over The Champ and Dusty Payne.
Mick Fanning proved that you’re never too old to skip. Mick used a couple of glassy Backdoor gems to breeze through his heat against Aritz Aranburu and Makai McNamara, and jumps merrily into the third round.
Gabriel Medina won a slow heat against Reef McIntosh and Dion Atkinson. The beach, which was strewn with frenzied Brazilians hoping to witness history, was very happy.
OK. So who has to do what to win?
Good question. It’s like this:
If Medina finishes 13th…Mick needs a 3rd and Kelly needs to win.
If Medina finishes 9th…Mick needs a 2nd and Kelly is out.
If Medina finishes 5th or 3rd…Mick needs to win.
After round 1 had wrapped, they held a women’s and heritage heat. Both had their moments. Bethany Hamilton packing Pipe closeouts was one of them. Carissa Moore winning with a couple of Backdoor nuggets was another. But the best was Tom Carroll’s 9.6 on a flawless Pipe runner that spit him out of the tube and into our hearts at the same time.
They say that tomorrow…
It’s getting bigger, and more west. I chatted with Rainos Hayes about it at the Billabong House and he was excited. Why? Because if the swell is big enough and west enough, it could clear out all that sand in the Pipe channel in a matter of hours. (Such is the power of the ocean here.) So, expect the comp to be on first thing and to see a few more Pipe waves ridden. Kelly vs. Reef to start the day.