John John scores 10s, Slater nails buzzer-beater comebacks, and Kieren Perrow (literally held together by duct tape) redeems last year’s finals fail. Pipemasters 2011 was the culmination of a record year of amazing surf on the World Championship Surfing Tour, and most surfers have the scars, staph, and cover-shots to prove it.
After the opening ceremonies came a special blessing in memory of Andy Irons, and a first birthday cheers to his son Axel Irons smiling on the beach with mom Lyndie. The wave gods proceeded to put on a spectacle of bombing surf that continuously drenched spectators like the Shamu Show.
Surfline predicted the swell would break at second and third reef pipeline during the first day of competition, something we haven’t seen since the 97′ Pipemasters. An irregularly sober mood swept the field of surfing’s favorite jokers. Perhaps out of fear for his riders, Jeff Hurley suggested starting to run heats a day early in more contestable conditions. But Slater said “There’s about 100 yards of sand that still needs to wash off the reef, and the wave doesn’t know where to go until this first pulse can push it off” and everyone reluctantly agreed.
Round 1 started with pipe-savvy Hawaiian wildcards like Marcus Hickman, Ian Walsh, and Jamie O’Brien winning 8 of 12 heats, while the visiting CT boys were just happy to make it back to the sand.
Here’s a few post comments that surfers told the SWELL team after their round 1 heats:
“Those were the worst beatings I’ve ever taken in a contest” -Ian Walsh
“Has anyone seen the other half of my board?” -Jamie O’Brien
“I was praying they would postpone the heats until the swell died down” -Kolohe Andino
“I got slapped around so hard, and had no idea which way I was paddling” -Bruce Irons
In Round 2 John John Florence continued his triple crown campaign scoring a perfect 10 and a 9.93 in round 3. But who other than Slater to nearly dash his lifelong hopes of a triple crown title in their quarter final face-off. From the beach it appeared the judges would be accused of another scoring scandal, but decide for yourself in this heat recap.
After losing to Slater, Michel Bourez had to make the finals to steal surfing’s second highest honor, but honorary Hawaiian Kieren Perrow weaved through backdoor to keep the crown in Hawaii with John John Florence.
Kieren earned his first elite victory after 20 years as a touring pro. Only a day earlier he was facing elimination from next year’s tour, but went on to beat Taj, Dorian, Gabriel Medina, Michel, and finally Parko, to become the 2011 Billabong Pipemasters Champion. This smiling 34 yr old Aussie is the surfer’s representative to the ASP, a respected big-wave charger, and a role model family-man.
Even Slater teared up as he announced the victory over the live webcast. Everyone was “over the moon”
Watch thrills and spills from the first day of firing surf.
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