The final of the 2018 Pipe Masters Trials came down to two Hawaiians and two Australians, and it was one from each region–Ryan Callinan and Benji Brand–who took the top two positions and will compete in the official Pipe Masters tomorrow. But boy was it a bumpy road for Callinan and Brand.
The conditions at Pipe today were not exactly how they were last week, when guys were getting stand-up, foam-ball spitting barrels in front of a slack-jawed crowd (in person and on social media). But unfortunately, Pipe is a fickle monster and today was a rough one for the competitors. There were solid, double-overhead waves coming in, but they were far and few between. The swell was coming in straight on, resulting in a lot of frustrating-looking close-outs and annoyingly long paddle-outs for competitors. And that wind? Good lord that wind was not doing anyone any favors.
With the above description, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the day was a low-scoring affair. Excluding the rides of Ethan Ewing that is. The young AI look-alike scored a 16-point heat total in the quarters and seemed as if he had a straight shot to the finals. Unfortunately, the young gun sustained an ankle injury during his heat and decided to pull out of the semifinals.
The peak of the swell, coinciding with the best conditions of the day, seemed to fall just a half hour before the finals (whenever everything matters the most) during the semifinal heat, when Hawaiian Torrey Meister locked in a hollow 6.5 (in the first semis) and Benji scored an even hollower 8.87 (in the second semis). But alas, once the hooter sounded at the start of the finals, the weather gods started reigning down their fury, the wind and the rain kicking into second (or fifth) gear to the likely disappointment of the finalists.
But luckily for Ryan Callinan, who just officially secured his spot on the 2019 ‘CT, he was able to find two mid-range scores (a 4.00 and a 5.67) to take the event win. Also securing a spot into the main event was Hawaii’s very own barrel fiend, Benji Brand, who kept busy enough to slide in right ahead of Torrey Meister and Soli Bailey.
The two Trials winners will be seeded in Round 1 of the Pipe Masters against two of the three title contenders, with Seth Moniz taking on the third. Callinan’s an ace in big, lefthand drainers and with a second-place finish at Quiksilver Pro France earlier this year (as a wildcard), he’s likely to throw a big ol’ wrench into the ending sprint of the title race.
Tune in to watch the 2018 Billabong Pipe Masters get underway, possibly starting tomorrow.