A few days ago we marveled at The Eddie from the safety of the rocky cliffs at Waimea. Today, we gawked at the tail end of that dying swell pounding itself into the reef at Pipeline. It feels like there are no down days on the North Shore this December, just moments that are somewhat less deadly than others. And today, the opener of the Billabong Pipeline Masters, the North Shore appeared slightly little less lethal. But as the old adage goes, looks can be deceiving.
Never a locale short on drama, today saw both Andy and Bruce Irons sneak through their heats, Andy besting Marcus Hickman and Bruce cutting through good friend and fellow Kauaian Reef McIntosh. Consider Andy and Bruce's handiwork out at Pipe--both are multiple winners at the venue--watching them paddle out at a peak seemingly tailor made for them, you can't help but shake the feeling that something amazing is going to happen.
Some of the most interesting drama of the event came not in the water but on the beach when Sunny Garcia, the current Triple Crown leader, showed up a few minutes late to his heat only to find that Torrey Meister was sent out in his place. Fortunately, level heads prevailed and Garcia was awarded the highest alternate slot moving forward.
Of the many standouts to compete today, France's Mikey Picon stood above the rest in both of his heats where he demolished Manoa Drollet and Josh Kerr respectively. Picon would also post the day's highest heat score with a 19.76 in the last heat of the day.
"Yeah, this is only like my the third time surfing Pipe this winter. I'm feeling pretty good though."
Going into the Pipe Masters, Picon was sitting in the deep end of the ranking pool at the number-39 position, needing a miracle or a third place finish or better, to requalify. "I'm not really thinking about that [requalifying] right now. I'm just trying to surf my heats one at a time," said Picon.
Kauai's Roy Powers was another surfer sitting on the bubble heading into Pipe. At the 29th position, Powers needed to make his heat to ensure his name remained on the World Tour roster come next year. And with the pressure mounting against Gabe Kling, Powers delivered to squeak through. "It was a nerve-racker out there for me," he said post victory.
For more nerve-racking miracles, stay locked to Surfermag.com as we bring you all of the action from the North Shore.
BILLABONG PIPELINE MASTERS ROUND 1 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Gavin Gillette (HAW) 15.50 def. Jihad Khodr (BRA) 11.33
Heat 2: Gabe Kling (USA) 11.17 def. Kalani Chapman (HAW) 10.17
Heat 3: Andy Irons (HAW) 12.42 def. Marcus Hickman (HAW) 10.17
Heat 4: Aritz Aranburu (EUK) 13.17 def. Dusty Payne (HAW) 12.96
Heat 5: Liam McNamara (HAW) 7.67 def. Nathaniel Curran (USA) 7.34
Heat 6: Hank Gaskell (HAW) 12.00 def. David Weare (ZAF) 8.73
Heat 7: Bruce Irons (HAW) 12.34 def. Reef McIntosh (HAW) 11.66
Heat 8: Torrey Meister (HAW) 16.83 def. Nic Muscroft (AUS) 8.90
Heat 9: Michael Picon (FRA) 10.50 def. Manoa Drollet (PYF) 9.93
Heat 10: Shane Dorian (HAW) 16.67 def. Kamalei Alexander (HAW) 7.73
Heat 11: Dayyan Neve (AUS) 13.43 def. Jonah Morgan (HAW) 6.84
Heat 12: Flynn Novak (HAW) 16.40 def. Luke Stedman (AUS) 12.34
Heat 13: Sion Miloski (HAW) 17.00 def. Dustin Barca (HAW) 14.03
Heat 14: John John Florence (HAW) 17.20 def. Danny Fuller (HAW) 11.33
Heat 15: Mason Ho (HAW) 15.83 def. Jay Thompson (AUS) 9.50
Heat 16: Phillip MacDonald (AUS) 12.66 def. Jamie O'Brien (HAW) 10.33
BILLABONG PIPELINE MASTERS ROUND 2 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Liam McNamara (HAW) 7.94 def. Chris Davidson (AUS) 6.83
Heat 2: Roy Powers (HAW) 10.26 def. Gabe Kling (USA) 10.06
Heat 3: Phillip MacDonald (AUS) 10.40 def. Greg Emslie (ZAF) 3.83
Heat 4: Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) 12.00 def. Mason Ho (HAW) 10.67
Heat 5: Bruce Irons (HAW) 15.67 def. Tim Reyes (USA) 13.93
Heat 6: Shane Dorian (HAW) 11.17 def. Tiago Pires (PRT) 8.33
Heat 7: Michael Picon (FRA) 19.76 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 16.73
REMAINING BILLABONG PIPELINE MASTERS ROUND 2 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 8: Kai Otton (AUS) vs. Torrey Meister (HAW)
Heat 9: Dean Morrison (AUS) vs. Sion Milosky (HAW)
Heat 10: Chris Ward (USA) vs. Aritz Aranburu (EUK)
Heat 11: Michel Bourez (PYF) vs. Flynn Novak (HAW)
Heat 12: Heitor Alves (BRA) vs. John John Florence (HAW)
Heat 13: Mick Campbell (AUS) vs. Gavin Gillette (HAW)
Heat 14: Tim Boal (FRA) vs. Dayyan Neve (AUS)
Heat 15: Ben Dunn (AUS) vs. Hank Gaskell (HAW)
Heat 16: Drew Courtney (AUS) Andy Irons (HAW)
BILLABONG PIPELINE MASTERS ROUND 3 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. TBA
Heat 2: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. TBA
Heat 3: Damien Hobgood (USA) vs. TBA
Heat 4: Bobby Martinez (USA) vs. TBA
Heat 5: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. TBA
Heat 6: Tom Whitaker (AUS) vs. TBA
Heat 7: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) vs. TBA
Heat 8: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. TBA
Heat 9: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. TBA
Heat 10: Kieren Perrow (AUS) vs. TBA
Heat 11: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. TBA
Heat 12: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. TBA
Heat 13: Taylor Knox (USA) vs. TBA
Heat 14: C.J. Hobgood (USA) vs. TBA
Heat 15: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. TBA
Heat 16: Dane Reynolds (USA) vs. TBA