Danny Fuller rides his last wave into the beach lying on his stomach, the vibrant hue of his yellow jersey pops against the muted gray colors of the ocean beneath him. The blue skies that lit his arena on the morning of the second day of the Volcom Pipeline Pro have softened to an afternoon shade of gray now-the result of a ghostlike fog that swallowed most of the North Shore a few hours back. Truth be told, Danny doesn’t care if the sun’s out or not. In fact, he doesn’t care that the shrine of a peak behind him known as Pipeline has turned to complete shit. Moments after unstrapping his leash from his ankle, ripping the jersey from his body and bro-shaking the web announcer, Danny tells me as much as he digs his still-dripping hand into a vibrant vat of red-rope licorice reserved for the competitors.
“It’s total shit out there right now. Compared to yesterday or even this morning, it’s a different wave, but I’m stoked I made it through. I think I only had one real wave…I think it was a seven or something,” he tells me. But a win’s a win. Imploding peaks torn to ribbons by the onshore gusts or sheet glass mirrors of perfection, Danny’s through to the next round. And right now, that makes him happy.
There are others that relate to Danny’s disappointment. There are those that watched Bruce Irons drop a 10 and a virtual unknown East Coaster by the name of Brent Barley post a 10 and a 9.67. Seated at the team houses that serve as outposts for Pipeline, they watched notebook doodles of the world’s most infamous wave come to life. From the opening horn until sometime after lunch, Pipe’s complexion remained immaculate.
And from the beachfront homes with names that reference surf companies, those relegated to afternoon paced and nervously fidgeted their fingers, hoping that the predicted onshore winds would stave off just a little longer, at least until after their heat. But by 1:30, the winds had arrived like a plague and Pipeline became a warm-water Huntington. Joel Centeio’s face said it all when he checked into the competitor’s area and grimaced at the conditions. The organizers agreed and called an end to the contest for the day somewhere near the 3:00 mark.
It had been a polarizing day at Pipeline. There were moments of splendor and harrowing wipeouts in nearly every morning- to-midday heat. And then, as if someone snapped their fingers and erased the glass and replaced it with a sea of chops and mush, the conditions tuned sour. But at day’s end, if you could cut it in your heat-whether that heat occurred in perfect Pipe or something far more ugly-and see your name posted into the next round, it was a good day. – Jeff Mull