Billabong Pipeline Masters: Day Two

EVENTS HELD: Men's Round Two
CONDITIONS: Four to six feet, trade tattered with moments of clarity
NATURE'S CALL: I'll throw you a bone
PREDICTIONS: An all Hawaiian final

Kai Otton was depressed last night. The NSW charger, vying for rookie of the year honors, had been looking forward to Pipe from the moment he qualified. And after scoring a total of 4.54 in his first-round grovel heat with no swells on the horizon, he figured his Pipe Masters debut would be nothing more than a few paddle-battles on the sandbar. "All me life I'd been waiting to surf good Pipe in a heat," he said over dinner. "And it's come to this?"

Still, he remained hopeful. Kept drinking the lemonades instead of the beers. Told a few good jokes at Lei Leis, heard the buoys spiked up to 7 at 17 and turned in at 10. Sometimes, Pipeline is a bit like Christmas. If you believe in the magic, then the magic will happen.

It happened for Otton. Sure, it was only four to five feet with the odd six-footer. Trades scalloping the peaks into Ruffles-like ridges. But Otton paddled out in his red-with-white-sleeve jersey (a new way to differentiate competitors in Kelly Slater's format), picked off a 6 and then, even holding "second priority", slid under the lip for an impossibly late drop and cool-guy exit off the foamball. Good enough for a 9.93 from the judges, the highest wave score of the day. If anyone wrote it off as beginner's luck, Kai backed that up with another 9 holding "first priority," and left Tahitian madman Manoa Drollet needing a combination of the scores. "A little bit of luck and a little bit of preparation," said Kai afterward. "I'm just glad I stayed on the lemonades."

The rest of his fellow ASP World Tour brothers should have stayed on the same program, because besides Otton, Michael Campbell and a fired-up Chris Ward, it was pretty much a Pipe Specialist slaughter fest. "Loving it," said Danny Fuller about the new format (see yesterday's report for the 1000-word explanation). "It throws you off a little bit when you don't have priority because even when you're in the perfect spot, you gotta watch the other guys paddling. But having that extra time out there makes all the difference in the world."

It did for Fuller, as he waited on his 6'3" Byrne quad until the last five minutes before finding his high 9 and handing Mick Lowe the final heat loss of his career. Lowey, a 2000 Pipe Masters finalist who announced his retirement before this event, got to the beach where countrymen Mark Occhilupo, Mick Fanning and others chaired him back to the competitor's area. As surf scribe Jason Borte remarked, "It was a full "Rudy" moment." Long live Lowey.

Back to the slaughter. Besides Fuller, Mikey Bruneau, Jamie O, Roy Powers, Gavin Gillette, Flynn Novak, Dave Wassell, Gavin Beschen, Ian Walsh, Mikala Jones, Myles Padaca and Makua Rothman all shattered ASP World Tour surfers' dreams today, putting to rest any question whether the specialists should have 16 slots in the main event. Round Three and the big guns are up next, the forecast is still marginal at best, but today was better than expected. And as Kai Otton proved today: when there's hope, there's magic.

Round 2 Results:Heat 1: Mikey Bruneau (HAW) 9.{{{90}}} def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 8.93
Heat 2: Jamie O’Brien (HAW) 16.66 def. Kalani Chapman (HAW) 9.27
Heat 3: Roy Powers (HAW) 12.17 def. Taylor Knox (USA) 11.50
Heat 4: Gavin Gillette (HAW) 10.30 def. Sunny Garcia (HAW) 7.77
Heat 5: Kai Otton (AUS) def. 19.33 Manoa Drollet (TAH) 8.00
Heat 6: Flynn Novak (HAW) 15.60 def. Tiago Pires (PRT) 13.07
Heat 7: Michael Campbell (AUS) 15.00 def. Kainoa McGee (HAW) 6.23
Heat 8: Danny Fuller (HAW) 14.84 def. Michael Lowe (AUS) 4.46
Heat 9: David Wassell (HAW) 10.50 def. Daniel Wills (AUS) 5.16
Heat 10: Gavin Beschen (USA) 16.67 def. Luke Munro (AUS) 3.00
Heat 11: Ian Walsh (HAW) 8.40 def. Leonardo Neves (BRA) 5.93
Heat 12: Mikala Jones (HAW) 16.00 def. Shaun Cansdell (AUS) 12.60
Heat 13: Rodrigo Dornelles (BRA) 10.46 def. Tory Baron (HAW) 4.56
Heat 14: Chris Ward (USA) 18.07 def. Shane Dorian (HAW) 16.00
Heat 15: Myles Padaca (HAW) 8.06 def. Ricky Basnett (ZAF) 4.16
Heat 16: Makua Rothman (HAW) 6.33 def. Royden Bryson (ZAF) 3.90[Car Rentals provided by Advantage Rent A Car.

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