The wildcard Bruce Irons was under terrific scrutiny at the Pipeline Masters: In Memory of Andy Irons. But he returned with a thunderous whack! Second to Mick, sure, but real close. | Photo: WSL

Pipe: Bruce, Jamie, CJ are plumed serpents!

And Kelly accelerates towards worst season ever! Day one, Pipeline Masters.

What an event of passing contradictions the Pipe Masters is. A quick glance at the six-to-eight-foot hissing waves would’ve suggested nothing but blue tubes with sunbursts dancing over it all, the very best surfers riding ‘em to oblivion.

Tens and tens.

But the famous Pipe ain’t like that. It’s in the middle of the Pacific, for one. All that bellowing of rip and wind.

“I don’t want to be cruel but it’s extremely tough out there,” said the commentator Ross Williams.

And so we must examine these contradictions of a wave so perfect, yet so raw.

Where else might a retiring athlete well into his third decade emerge with the fluid power of a tiger from nowhere and collect a perfect score?

But where else, in the very same event, might a two-point, two-wave total ensure an easy win, as Bede Durbidge discovered in round one against Adam Melling and Wiggly Dantas? The worst heat ever in competition!

The heaviest wave in the world, as some call it, with a perfect air wedge? John John just humps the joint.

Bruce Irons’ social media campaign to get into the event thrilled plenty, disappointed a couple, when he got a start in the contest as a wildcard.

And yet his performance, the third-highest heat total of round one, and vigorous enough to suggest he ain’t spent, wasn’t enough to blow past the unnatural white brilliance of Mick Fanning.

With those ping-pong ball eyes bulging on either side of his face, Filipe Toledo almost disintegrated BeachGrit’s #1 pick Jamie O’Brien. That last-second insider just about did the trick but judges are consistent, if anything, and an insider ain’t gonna get you shit.

Kolohe Andino, meanwhile, nearly belted through to round three with a one-wave total.

Kelly Slater continued his trajectory toward his worst year in 22 seasons, possibly spinning out of the top ten. He has the energy of a 20 year year old and he gleams with enthusiasm… such a joy of living!… but it don’t mean a rideable wave is going to appear in front of you.

Who knew he could be so vulnerable?


Heat 1: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 14.26, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 9.33, Glenn Hall (IRL) 1.70

Heat 2: Mason Ho (HAW) 6.17, Jadson Andre (BRA) 5.70, Dusty Payne (HAW) 1.70
Heat 3: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 12.60, Keanu Asing (HAW) 7.84, Wade Carmichael (AUS) 3.73
Heat 4: Michel Bourez (PYF) 9.33, Adriano De Souza (BRA) 7.23, Jack Robinson (AUS) 5.06

Heat 5: Jamie O’Brien (HAW) 8.06, Filipe Toledo (BRA) 7.84, Kolohe Andino (USA) 6.50

Heat 6: Mick Fanning (AUS) 14.60, Bruce Irons (HAW) 14.33, Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 4.37

Heat 7: Kai Otton (AUS) 12.40, Julian Wilson (AUS) 3.84, Ricardo Christie (NZL) 3.10
Heat 8: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 11.27, Jordy Smith (ZAF) 7.17, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 3.94
Heat 9: CJ Hobgood (USA) 14.97, Taj Burrow (AUS) 11.26, Kelly Slater (USA) 9.80

Heat 10: John John Florence (HAW) 13.33, Nat Young (USA) 6.67, Brett Simpson (USA) 1.50
Heat 11: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 2.84, Adam Melling (AUS) 1.14, Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 1.10
Heat 12: Josh Kerr (AUS) 13.06, Joel Parkinson (AUS) 8.17, Miguel Pupo (BRA) 3.44



Heat 1: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Bruce Irons (HAW)
Heat 2: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. Brett Simpson (USA)
Heat 3: Adriano De Souza (BRA) vs. Jack Robinson (AUS)
Heat 4: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) vs. Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 5:  Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Wade Carmichael (AUS)
Heat 6: Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. Miguel Pupo (BRA)
Heat 7: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 8: Jadson Andre (BRA) vs. Sebastian Zietz (HAW)
Heat 9: Nat Young (USA) vs. Glenn Hall (IRL)
Heat 10: Keanu Asing (HAW) vs. Kolohe Andino (USA)
Heat 11: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Ricardo Christie (NZL)
Heat 12: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) vs. Jordy Smith (ZAF)

The wake jockey Collin Harrington gives a visual (with camera on stick) of how water diversion technology can give lake surfing a little buzz.

How to: Get barrelled behind a boat!

All it takes is a lil water diversion technology… 

I ain’t gonna lie. When I saw this photo thrown up on Mark Mathews’ IG account I arched my eyebrows and threw my eyes back into my cranium. Barely ten feet away from the hull of a boat, on a lake, and… a barrel of sorts?

How, when, where?

A spurt of industry and I was in the arms of Mr Collin Harrington, a pro wakeboarder, skater and very keen surfer.

BeachGrit: When and where did you snatch this photo? 

I shot this in Orlando, FL. Gopro had just sent me the new Hero 4 session camera and this was the first test with it. Needless to say, it worked!

BeachGrit: How the hell y’make something like this happen? Do you need a special hull, a particularly big boat? 

All the wakeboard boat companies have been making hulls now that are actually making some really fun wake surf wakes. Some are better than others but there are a few boats around now that will do this. Its pretty wild really. It’s all touch button to make the wave however you want.

I just grew up on board sports. They both have their perks but there is still nothing like getting spat out of a solid tube on a surfboard.

(Editor’s note: It’s called water diversion technology. Click here to investigate!)

BeachGrit: Describe the sensation of swinging inside a tube behind a boat? 

I have to be honest and say the camera angle does play a bit of a mind game. You can’t quite get in it but it’s close. You can lay down and get a quick boogie tube but thats about it. The way boat companies are going though, hopefully we will be able to get fresh water tubes in the next few years.

BeachGrit: And you surf as well as wake? What thrills you about each diff sport? 

Ya , I grew up living summers in Ocean City, Maryland and Winters in the Florida Keys my whole life. I would surf and skate all summer and then in the Keys there are no waves so I would skate and wakeboard. I just grew up on board sports. They both have their perks but there is still nothing like getting spat out of a solid tube on a surfboard.

BeachGrit: Anything else about you, I should know? 

I’m 5’8”, blondish hair, enjoy short walks on the beach… ha. I’m video producer as well. I’m actually in Oahu right now for the winter shooting for O’Neill. That’s been fun so far. Been getting some good waves out here. And my family has a surf and dive charter boat we in the Virgin Islands. They weren’t able to bring the boat down there this season but we will be back next winter. Its one of my favorite places in the world. (See the charter biz here.) 

Jamie in his world.

Jamie O’Brien will win the Pipeline Masters!

Or at least totally destroy the World Title race!

Today is the day! Or maybe tomorrow, but let’s hope today. It is like Christmas morning for the professional surf fan. The promise of big, unruly Pipe thrills. Every possibility hovers but in looking at the heat draw there is one thing that thrills me more than others and its name is Jamie O’Brien.

Maybe some of you are unaware that I once directed an award-winning film called Who is JOB some years back. I did not come up with the name, it was forced upon me, but the subject was almost too delicious. Jamie had/still has to some extent, a funny reputation but he is nothing if not easy to work with. I lived in his house for the early part of the filming right there on Pipeline’s sands. Every morning I’d wake and there it would be. Pipeline. It is one of the few things in this world, I can honestly say, where familiarity does not breed contempt. It was as captivating each time.

And Jamie would surf it with such wacky comfort. Such bizarre ease. It’s not like the kid has had a cupcake run out there either. Both his legs have been broken by Pipe’s reef. Both of them. Watching him surf it, day in and day out, also captivated. I watched him in all sorts of conditions, catching all sorts of waves. I’ve seen him pack the biggest closeouts and toss pointless airs on the inside section. And today, or maybe tomorrow, I want to see him win.

It was fun to direct his film because he is as carefree with himself as he is in his surfing. The magnificent Dayten Likness, an artist who truly breathed life into the film, and I took all the footage and ran to California when it was time to edit. Jamie saw none of it, zero, until the night it premiered.

And now, five years on, he has made it back into the Pipeline Masters. Jack Robinson received the praise for winning the trials but it was Jamie O that I cheered for. Look at him, slotted into heat 5 against Filipe Toledo and Kolohe Andino. Filipe, ranked 2nd in the world, has a legit shot of winning the title. But there, by the grace of God, goes Jamie O. And how sad is Filipe right now? Of all the damn people to draw.

Hopefully he will chew right through the World Surf League rankings and leave a giant mess in his wake. That will be fun for all.

Dayten, Jamie and I.
Dayten, Jamie and I.

Jack Robinson is Australia's prince. Blue eyes, hacksaw haircut, beaming, gleaming with enthusiasm. A Joel Parkinson-esque style married to a John John level of skill. Today he won the Pipe Invitational, and a wildcard into the Pipeline Masters, with… one wave. A nine-plus, leaving Jamie O and Mason Ho to scrap over second place. | Photo: WSL

Just in: Jack Robinson wins Pipe Invitational!

Beats Mason Ho and Jamie O’Brien with one wave in a piss monsoon!

Sometimes it’s hard to believe you’ve reached adulthood. Time flies by so fast!

Do you remember when Jack Robinson was a tween with a hacksaw haircut and squeezing the trigger on five-foot oops at Gas Bay? You could almost imagine him sitting in your lap cooing like a pussycat.

Today, surfing against men almost twice his age, including the fleshy, but not really fat, Jamie O’Brien, who finished second, Jack’s vigour and skill was announced. In every heat, but his semi, he had the highest scoring wave.

In waves heavy enough that Sunny Garcia wasn’t even sure the contest should’ve been called on.

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From his first heat, Jack Robinson was maddeningly perfect.

And there was a quarter final where he served his opponents nuts.

A semi-final walkthrough.

And the final where he cut open Jamie O’Brien, Mason Ho and Kekoa Cazimero with… one wave.

“Jack absolutely killed it,” said Jamie O’Brien afterwards.

He did.

Welcome to adulthood.


"Listen, just because I have cheek bones doesn't mean I won't throw down."

Just in: Actor Rob Lowe in surf fight!

Belts local surfer in head! "Don't let the pretty fool ya!"

Once, Rob Lowe was the hottest thing in Hollywood. In his twenties, he banged off consecutive hit films: The Outsiders, St Elmo’s Fire, About Last Night, Tommy Boy. 

And so beautiful, god he was beautiful. Brownish hair, sculptural cheek bones, tits like plums.

All my little girlfriends at the time would stick posters of Rob Lowe on their wall and compare, and in my case contrast, his beauty to the rest of the world. I was satisfied when a video-taped threesome of Rob and two gals, one a 16 year old, was fed to the world and he spent the next decade scrapping around for work.

Anyway, he surfs. And fights!

On the Late Late Show with James Cordon, Lowe proudly admitted to belting a local surfer who’d grabbed his leash.

“People, don’t let the pretty fool ya,” he says. “Listen, just because I have cheek bones doesn’t mean I won’t throw down.”

Beautiful, a sense of humour and… brutal! How can you not admire?