Billabong Pipeline Masters: Final Day

Heats Held: Round 4 to the finals
Conditions: 2-3 foot Huntington.
Nature's Call: "Whaeva, I do what I want"
Predictions: Foodland runs out of beer and the Australians rule the night.

Sure, it was more Off the Wall than Pipe. Barrels were rare. And the arena looked more like Ninth Street in Huntington than Backdoor, but that doesn't mean the Billabong Pipeline Masters was a non-event. Going into the day there were all sorts of swirling rumors, careers on the line and drama to unfold. I mean, come on it is still Pipe Masters, the grand finale of the year were talking about. This thing is drama. And while it was hard to believe when you were looking that it was in fact Pipeline, things could always be worse. "At least it's the Off the Wall Masters and not the Gums Masters," said Josh Kerr this morning at Starbucks.

The day opened up dramatically enough for Andy Irons –– who's been the talk of several swirling rumors that he would not be doing the tour next year –– when he was knocked out in dramatic fashion during Round 4 by local T.J. Barron. When things looked all but over for T.J., he managed to squeak into a backhand barrel on a left at Off the Wall, come out and hack it once more for a 7.17 and the victory over the defending Pipe Masters Champ Andy Irons. All the rumors of Andy's withdrawal from the tour were later cleared up by Andy's manager Blair Marlin who says, "Andy will {{{100}}} percent be doing the tour next year." After the heat loss at Pipe you can bet he'll have guns blazing at Snapper. And we miss that. So bring it on A.I.

In other early drama, careers were on the line throughout round 4 and they were dropping off the tour just as quickly as they could get in the water. Cory Lopez lost to Luke Stedman in Round 4 and was sent back to the WQS drawing board next year. Which lucky for Cory starts in Florida January 4th not far from his home.

Greg Emslie, Josh Kerr and Phil Macdonald were the next victims of round 4 and were sent off the ASP World Championship Tour for next year. Josh Kerr, who says he will not try to re-qualify and will stick to freesurfing went out with a little flare by pulling off a backhand varial 360 in the waning moments of his heat. We think he'll do just fine as a free surfer next year, don't you?

And now for a happy ending. Chris Ward and Bruce Irons both paddled out for their round 4 heat thinking the loser would be on the 'QS next year. It was do or die. Ward was ranked 27 and Bruce 28, both borderline for the re-qualification spot. Chris Ward took the win and solidified his slot on tour next year but luckily for B.I. his Dream Tour campaign is still alive as well thanks to a few other surfers' bad luck. So we don't have to lose either Wardo or Bruce. Pheww.

In round 5 Chris Ward found himself against Kelly Slater and was all but out until he managed to cuddle up into a long and rare Backdoor barrel for the win over the eight times World Champ, a solid roll for the re-qualified San Clemente local.

Fred Patacchia Jr. was also able to grind it out past Rookie of the Year runner up (to Jeremy Flores) Kai Otten in Round 4 as well keeping his dream alive on the tour.

Now for the real fun: the final. IT was three Aussies –– Dean Morrison, Joel Parkinson and Bede Durbidge –– and lone Hawaiian Pancho Sullivan in the final. Right out of the gates Bede was able to pick off a 9.5 when the three other got into a paddle battle and were left too deep. "I snuck into that 9.5," Bede said after. "With four guys out there in one spot and Pipe Masters on the line it's pretty serious out there." By the halfway mark Bede had the whole field except for Dean comboed. Dean would need an 8.5 to win and would end up just shy with a 7 in the waning moments. Give it to Durbidge.

It was Aussie blue from there on out. Chair Bede up again, put a Fosters in his hand and let the games begin tonight. There wasn't an empty handed Aussie on the sand after the final and with absolutely zero swell in the water you can bet there will be some Aussies drowning on land tonight. "I'm just ecstatic at the moment, " Bede said as he was crowned and handed a hand shaped, abalone inlayed board from Gerry Lopez. "This is something I've wanted since I was a grom."

So what are we waiting for? There are no waves in sight and the Australians won. Foodland is almost sold out of beer so we've got some work to do. Let the mass exodus begin so the waves can finally get good for the locals because they deserve it. Thanks for having us. Aloha, we'll see ya next year.

Final Results of the Billabong Pipeline Masters
1. Bede Durbidge $30,000
2. Dean Morrison $18,000
3. Pancho Sullivan $13,000
4. Joel Parkinson $ 11,000

Winner of the {{{Vans}}} Triple Crown of Surfing: Bede Durbidge[Car Rentals provided by Advantage Rent A Car.

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Full-time 2007 Foster's ASP World Tour sufers who failed to qualify for the 2008 ASP World Tour are Greg Emslie (ZAF), Cory Lopez (USA), Phil Macdonald (AUS), Josh Kerr (AUS), Troy Brooks (AUS), Bernardo Miranda (BRA), Gabe Kling (USA), Shaun Cansdell (AUS), Victor Ribas (BRA), Raoni Monteiro (BRA) and retirees Mark Occhilupo (AUS) and Mick Lowe (AUS).

Ben Dunn (AUS), Tim Reyes (USA) and Travis Logie (ZAF) also finished outside of the Top 27, but citing injuries, have applied for wildcard berths onto the 2008 ASP World Tour – their spots are not yet confirmed.

Qualifying for the 2008 ASP World Tour via the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) are Adriano de Souza (BRA), Dayyan Neve (AUS) and Luke Munro (AUS).