Stranger Than Non-Fiction


By Daniel Ikaika Ito
Photos by Tom Carey

It got weird in the middle of the day at the Volcom Pipe Pro on Tuesday. Onshore breezes thrashed the lineup just before noon yesterday, deteriorating the conditions and shutting down the barrel at the 5-star ASP event. At that point, contest officials made a decision to halt competition despite 6-to 8-foot sets still rolling in.

It was a questionable choice yesterday considering that officials called a lay day on Monday, which had a building northwest swell, double-overhead drainers and trade winds at the Banzai Pipeline. The waves were the same size yesterday, but the variable winds played a factor.

According to Kauaiʻs Reef McIntosh, temporarily halting competition at the Volcom Pipe Pro for 30 minutes yesterday was a "good call."

"It was onshore (winds), and somehow, some magical god — thank you, God — it went offshore," says McIntosh who advanced out of the second round with the highest scoring heat of the event. "It just got glassy, offshore and firing! I'm so glad it went on hold for a half hour because it was windy, (…) then it just glassed off and got better and better."

The 34-year-old regular foot navigated two sick barreling lefts at Pipeline, earning a two-wave total of 17.27 out of a possible 20 points. His highest scoring ride was a grinding barrel at Pipe that the judges deemed a 9.77.

McIntosh advanced in second place while Brazilʻs Dennis Tihara won the Round 2 heat with a two-wave total of 17.40. It was the highest scoring heat so far at the Volcom Pipeline Pro. Incidentally, McIntosh had no idea who Tihara was during the heat, but afterward recognized the Brazilian from a previous free surf session.

"Once I saw that one guy [Tihara] get a wave I was like, ʻOh, that guy,' because I seen him catch some waves the other day and I didn't know who he was," explained McIntosh. "I knew he could get barreled, and he got barreled!"

And though it seemed like it couldn't get any stranger than a dark horse Brazilian getting better waves than a Pipeline specialist…it totally did.

In the heat before McIntosh and Tihara there was a judging error, which resulted in Jason Shibata finishing in third behind Oliver Kurtz in second. After the commentators announced the results, the head judge reviewed the scores. Mind you, Shibata believed he'd just lost the heat even though he caught a 9.17 Backdoor barrel. The judges deliberated and it proved to be stroke of luck for Shibata, who ended up advancing to the next round in second over Kurtz. Incidentally, Cory Arrambide won that heat.

ASP Hawaii surfers, like Shibata, are vying for a good result at the Volcom Pipe Pro in order to gain a coveted wildcard invite to the 2011 Billabong Pipe Masters. The Pipe Pro functions as trials to the Pipe Masters, which is the last event of the World Tour season and Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. This event is webcast live on, and telecast live on Oceanic Time Warner Cable Channel 250 and 1250 in Hawaii.