The all-out battle for the world title began as the final event of the ASP 2014 World Tour kicked off, with some highly anticipated heats.
The opening round of the Billabong Pipe Masters saw Aussie Joel Parkinson (who pulled out of the Vans World Cup due to an injury) dominate the first heat.
“I spent a week out of the water and I feel fine now,” Parkinson said. “Little tight in my shoulder and a bit of bruising, but not too bad.”
His fellow countryman, Julian Wilson, struggled to find waves and only managed to secure a 1.23 on his only wave during the 30-minute heat. Wildcard Glenn Hall, filling the opening of Adriano De Souza, caught four waves during the bout, but only locked in a 4.26 two-wave total.
Heat two saw former Triple Crown Champion Sebastian Zietz, Vans World Cup of Surfing Champ Michel Bourez, and Raoni Monteiro battle it out in an exciting heat. Zietz looked comfortable as he logged a pair of sevens and advanced directly to round three. Monteiro suffered two heavy wipeouts and finished the heat in second place, but it was Bourez who came out worse, suffering a broken board after pulling in too deep at Backdoor. He’ll face new opponents in round two.
Heat three saw John John Florence, Mitch Coleburn, and Matt Wilkinson face-off. Florence gave an incredible performance, logging the first nine-point ride of the day. Wilkinson struggled with a broken leash and a two-wave total of 2.23. Coleburn attempted eight waves, but couldn’t match Florence’s combo.
[pullquote]In one of the most highly anticipated heats of the day, World Title hopeful Kelly Slater, took on Adam Melling and Dusty Payne in heat four[/pullquote]
In one of the most highly anticipated heats of the day, World Title hopeful Kelly Slater, took on Adam Melling and Dusty Payne in heat four. Payne and Slater were the first to exchange, taking back-to-back waves. Slater took an early lead with an 8.10, and backed it up with a 7.70 halfway through.
Melling found himself far behind heading into the last 10 minutes. He managed to log a 7.00, getting himself out of a combination situation, but needed an 8.80 to secure a spot in round three. Under priority at the two minute mark, Melling seemed round two bound. Payne lifted the priority with under a minute left, in an attempt to better his 5.17 and overtake Slater, but Melling snuck in on the following wave, scoring an 8.90 and taking the win.
Although Slater will head to the elimination round, his toe injury suffered in Fiji recently appeared to hinder his ability at Pipeline.
Heat five saw Mick Fanning, Aritz Aranburu, and wildcard Makai McNamara battle it out. Fanning took an early lead with a 7.33. McNamara attempted three waves during the bout, but failed to log anything above a 1.40. Aranburu kept at it and eventually scored a 9.27, with 13 minutes left on the clock.
By the two minute mark, Fanning made a mistake and gave up priority on the Backdoor closeout. Aranburu only needed a 2.89 to cause a major upset to the World Title hopeful, but the ocean seemed to be on Fanning’s side, and went quiet, giving no opportunity to Aranburu to find a small score in the final minutes.
With the ocean keeping consistent, World No.1, Gabriel Medina, faced Dion Atkinson, and Pipe Invitational winner Reef McIntosh. Much like Fanning in the previous heat, Medina opened with an aggressive 3.33, but McIntosh answered with a 4.17 and an early lead change.
Medina was the only surfer able to find a backup score and secured himself a place in round three[/pullquote]
Medina was the only surfer able to find a backup score and secured himself a place in round three. “It’s really fun, I love to surf pipe,” Medina said. “I’m looking forward just to surf good and having fun out there. I feel comfortable, I got a board under my feet.”
Jeremy Flores dominated heat seven, after taking an early lead with a 7.00, he backed it up with a 2.30. Andre and Smith were left far behind. Smith, who has spent a large amount of time in Hawaii over the past few weeks, competing in the Reef Hawaiian Pro, and the Vans World Cup of Surfing, looked unusually sluggish in his first heat, and only placed third with a two-wave total of 2.07.
Moving forward to heat 10, Owen Wright, Mitch Crews, and Adrian Buchan battled it out in what appeared to be a more active heat. Buchan logged two sevens, while Wright achieved two excellent scores, an 8.93 and 8.57, claiming the win and moving directly to round three.
“You get more comfortable the more time you spend and I’ve been here over a month now or maybe a bit more than that, but just starting to get comfortable at Backdoor,” Wright said. “For me Backdoor is one of those really challenging waves. I hit the bottom twice out there so it kind of shows it’s a dangerous wave.”
Heat eleven saw Alejo Muniz take the win over Filipe Toledo, with a two wave total of 14.94. While the final heat of the day saw Bede Durbidge come out on top over Tiago Pires and Miguel Pupo.
Words Louis Hall @LHall69
2014 Billabong Pipe Master Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 13.83, Glenn Hall (IRL) 4.26, Julian Wilson (AUS) 1.23
Heat 2: Seabastian Zietz: (HAW) 14.13, Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 4.77, Michel Bourez (PYF) 2.90
Heat 3: John John Florence (HAW) 18.16, Mitch Coleburn (AUS) 3.34, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 2.23
Heat 4: Adam Melling (AUS) 15.90, Kelly Slater (USA) 15.80, Dusty Payne (HAW) 13.84
Heat 5: Mick Fanning (AUS) 12.16, Aritz Aranburu (ESP) 9.27, Makai McNamara (HAW) 2.20
Heat 6: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 8.83, Reef McIntosh (HAW) 5.10, Dion Atkinson (AUS) 3.30
Heat 7: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 9.30, Jadson Andre (BRA) 3.90, Jordy Smith (ZAF) 2.07
Heat 8: Kolohe Andino (USA) 10.77, Freddy Patacchia Jr (HAW) 7.50, Travis Logie (ZAF) —
Heat 9: Josh Kerr (AUS) 11.10, Brett Simpson (USA) 9.63, Kai Otton (AUS) 1.67
Heat 10: Owen Wright (AUS) 17.50, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 15.07, Mitch Crews (AUS) 8.50
Heat 11: Alejo Muniz (BRA) 14.94, Filipe Toldeo (BRA) 12.90, Nat Young (USA) 1.90
Heat 12: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 15.20, Miguel Pupo (BRA) 3.23, Tiago Pires (PRT) 1.63