At every Pipeline event we always hope for the same two things: heavy tubes, and dramatic finishes. Today the Volcom Pipe Pro gave us more than we bargained for on both counts. No one accidentally wins in epic Pipeline, so it's not surprising that in the past three years we have seen two of the best surfers to ever surf the break holding a giant check by event's end—and surely it's no coincidence that both grew up within a stone's throw from the wave.
When John John Florence and Jamie O'Brien faced off against each other in the final today, it seemed like a heat bound to happen from the beginning of the event. It was a heat that left their fellow finalists, Maui's Kai Barger and San Clemente's Nate Yeomans, with the cards seemingly stacked against them. But within the opening minutes, Kai and Jamie traded off phenomenal tubes, leaving both of them with combined totals over 18 points.
In most events, with most competitors, this would have meant an early end for their opponents, but in what seems to be becoming typical John John fashion, a shocker was in store. In the dying minutes John took off on a beastly left and sat in the barrel until after the spit, earning a perfect 10. Jamie saw the writing on the wall and stayed on John John like he was his shadow, but in the final seconds of the heat, John John took off on an impossibly deep wave at Backdoor and threaded the kind of barrel that very few human beings can. The scores came in, and Florence came out on top with a 9.93, edging out his friend and mentor by just 0.53.
Everyone wants to see the best surfers at the break that elicits the best performances, and anytime Jamie O'Brien faces John John at decent Pipe, the universe smiles on competitive surf fans. If last year's win marked John John's coming of age, this one just cements what most of us already know: He's one of the best Pipe surfers alive today.
1st – John John Florence (HAW) 19.93pts, $20,000
2nd – Jamie O’Brien (HAW) 19.40pts, $10,000
3rd – Kai Barger (HAW) 18.20pts, $6,500
4th – Nathan Yeomans (CA, USA) 7.57pts, $5,500
H1: Jamie O’Brien (HAW) 17.77pts ; Kai Barger (HAW) 17.10pts ; Billy Kemper (HAW) 7.90pts ; Tanner Hendrickson (HAW) 5.10pts
H2: John John Florence (HAW) 13.56pts ; Nathan Yeomans (USA) 12.83pts ; Bruce Irons (HAW) 12.40pts ; Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY) 7.44pts
H1: Billy Kemper (HAW) 12.00pts ; Jamie O’Brien (HAW) 11.87pts ; Tim Reyes (USA) 9.10pts ; Gabe Kling (USA) 6.63pts
H2 : Kai Barger (HAW) 14.66pts ; Tanner Hendrickson (HAW) 14.50pts ; Flynn Novak (HAW) 10.83pts ; Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 3.63
H3 : Nathan Yeomans (USA) 13.27pts ; Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY) 12.50pts ; Carlos Munoz (CRI) 11.50pts ; Kalani Chapman (HAW) 4.77pts
H4: John John Florence (HAW) 16.34pts ; Bruce Irons (HAW) 13.00pts ; Alexander Grey
(USA) 8.40pts ; Mitchel Coleborn (AUS) 4.84pts