The third day of competition for the Volcom Pipe Pro gave way to clean-but-fading 4- to 5-foot tubes at Pipe and Backdoor. While the swell lacked the meat of previous days, the immaculate conditions on offer made up for the decrease in swell.
Setting the pace for the day was three-time event champion John Florence, who won both his Round of 64 and Round of 32 heats today. In his afternoon matchup against Ian Gouveia, Noe Mar McGonagle and Dusty Payne, John put on one of the most impressive performances of the day. In classic John John mode, he was able to seamlessly weave Backdoor tubes with massive maneuvers. In what could be considered the ride of the day, Florence backdoored a drainer and quickly whipped a clean frontside air reverse to post a 9.33.
"I was really stoked to finish the wave off with that air. Especially since the conditions are deteriorating a little," said Florence after his win. "When the swell is this size, you can really utilize that end section for different moves and that's a lot of fun."
Also making his debut in the Volcom Pipe Pro today was reigning event champion Kelly Slater, who made quick work of his Round of 64 heat and Round of 32 heat.
Following his victory over Kaimana Jaquias, Jesse Mendes and Billy Kemper, Slater described the conditions. "The swells really died off from this morning, but the surf was still fun. I was riding a smaller board, it was a 5'11" and it felt really nice out there."
When asked if he ever thinks that his best days are behind him, 42-year-old 11-time world champ cooly replied that "People are so focused on age, but if you stay healthy, and keep yourself strong and continue to evolve, there's no reason you can't better yourself as you get older…people have told me that I should have retired a long time ago, but then I wouldn't be here today having fun," he added with a laugh.
In his quarterfinal heat, Slater will take on Brian Toth, Hank Gaskell, and Kolohe Andino.
With an unfavorable wind forecasted to make confetti of the lineup at Pipeline, there's a good chance that we'll conclude the final day of the Volcom Pipe Pro tomorrow. But then again, it's Mother Nature, so who knows. Check the contest website tomorrow morning to see if we'll be crowning a champion.