Hawaii’s Pancho Sullivan wiped out the opposition to claim his second Monster Energy Pipeline Pro, presented by Billabong, at Backdoor Pipe today in barreling waves of six to eight feet (wave face heights). Posting a perfect 10-point tube ride as well as the highest heat score of the event – 18.75 points out of 20, in the 30-minute final, his three rivals were all left in need of a combination of scores to turn the tables. The win earned Sullivan $7,000 and 875 World Qualifying Series ratings points. Pancho first won this event back in 2005, a result that catapulted him onto the elite ASP World Championship Tour (WCT).
While the waves were not trademark Pipeline by any standards, they allowed Sullivan to prove he's not just a big-wave power surfer but a threat to contend with in all quality conditions. He had plenty of opportunity to build momentum and show his worth after denying a main round seed and surfing all the way through from the trials here. By the conclusion of today's final, Sullivan had contested a total of eight heats – more than any other surfer in the event.
An all-Hawaii affair, second and third place went to fellow WCT surfers Fred Patacchia (14.25 points) and Roy Powers (9.1 points) respectively, with Dustin Barca fourth (6.5 points).
“Conditions were super difficult so my plan was just to chip away,” said Sullivan. “With the incoming swell the smaller waves offered more open face, so my aim was to get a decent score and build on that. A lot of times it boils down to being lucky and getting the right waves.”
On starting from the trials: “There is so much luck involved. I was just fortunate I didn't get skunked. I was pretty wave-starved in the semi's. But I was looking forward to getting as many heats as possible under my beld before the WCT starts. This is a great opportunity to prepare and train.”
Patacchia was surprised to keep his grip on second place after giving up 20 minutes into the heat once he realized there was no catching Pancho. Fred opted to leave the water and trade in his surfboard for a pink bodyboard, apparently not concerned by the threat of injury or losing money by dropping his position in the heat. When he wiped out heavily on that, he took to bodysurfing the barrel.
“The thought of injury and money didn't even enter my mind,” said Patacchia. “I was all about the win, so once I saw Pancho had it, I was done.”
Neither Powers nor Barca managed to secure decent rides in the last 10 minutes of the heat and Patacchia remained at second for $3,500. Powers earned $2,500 and Barca $2,000.
Along with the prize money, 14 wildcards into the coveted Billabong Pipeline Masters next December were on offer to locals in this event. Sullivan, Patacchia and Powers did not need to take up the offer, already guaranteed of a start through their WCT status. Fourth placed Barca will get a start, along with other highly placed surfers in the event including TJ Barron, Marcus Hickman, Makuakai Rothman, Daniel Jones, Jesse Merle-Jones, Nathan Carroll, Ian Walsh, Kekoa Bacalso and Ola Eleogram. (Complete list not available at time of release.)
Eleogram also received the Todd Chesser Sportsmanship Award today, selected for his never-say-die spirit during the event. Eleogram finished equal ninth overall, losing in the quarterfinals.
The highest placed non-Hawaii surfers were Matt Mohagen (CA), Devon Tresher (Florida) and Brazilian Dantas Wiggolly, all of whom placed equal 13th with fourth place quarterfinal finishes. The top Australian finisher was Anthony Walsh, who fell one round short of the quarterfinals for equal 25th place.
The Association of Surfing Professionals now heads to Australia for the start of the World Championship Tour. The next professional event in Hawaii will be next winter.
1st – $7,000 – Pancho Sullivan (HI) – 18.75 points (10, 8.75)
2nd – $3,500 – Fred Patacchia (HI) – 14.25 (7.75, 6.5)
3rd – $2,500 – Roy Powers (HI) – 9.1 (7.0, 2.1)
4th – $2,000 – Dustin Barca (HI) – 6.5 (4.5, 2.0)