All Photos: Corey Wilson
Ahhhhh, it's good to be back. The Billabong Pipe Masters kicked off Sunday as a 4- to 6-foot swell marched in from the Northwest and gave surfers and surf fans everything they love about the last WCT event of the year. There were injuries. There were upsets. There was plenty of Backdoor. The first two rounds were completed as low seeds and wildcards traded throaty rights and the odd left.
Gabriel Medina's 18.67 heat. He got a long, running Pipe wave, stood tall and tickled the wave face and the lip at the same time for a 9.67. Then he backed it up with a 9 that was punctuated with a full rotation alley oop that will surely win him 250,000 miles from the Hawaiian Airlines Airshow.
Pat Gudauskas robbed Zeke Lau of his Triple Crown hopes and then went on to beat fellow San Clementian, Kolohe Andino, in the second round.
Sebastian Zietz's perfect 10 was something else. I was lucky enough to watch that one from the channel between OTW and Backdoor and to see his face when he kicked out was a perfect reminder as to why these guys compete.
And how did the high seeds spend their day off? Kelly owned Rocky Rights in the early afternoon. John John spent the late morning making 10-foot Rockpiles look like your local beachbreak. There is simply nothing that kid can't surf. Mick looked relaxed watching the webcast at the Rip Curl house, though rumor has it Mick was training with the Red Bull guys yesterday. He would do a bunch of cardio to get his heart rate up, then answer a bunch of questions on a computer while hooked up to a machine that monitored his brain activity. The idea was to get Mick to focus under physical and mental duress. Sooooooo, there's that.
Tomorrow the contest will either be on or off. Depends on the ocean.