But overall the day reminded me of a sub-par run at Hossegor…
It was a glorious day on Oahu. Sunny, but not hot. Breezy, but not windy. A tiny bite of Autumn in the air. The type of weather for which you yearn, but only get for a week or two each trip around the sun.
If only round one of the Pipe Masters had been as good.
Not to say the surf was bad. Laniakea looked great as I drove past. Pupukea was damn close to firing. It’s usually a fairly soft wave, every once in a while turns on, gets scary. It wasn’t quite there, but it had some beef. Some power. Log Cabins looked outright terrifying. But I’m just straight scared of that wave, ever since I got cocky, got caught, and hit the bottom so hard I thought I was going to shit my pants.
Skateboarders call that an ‘oops-poops.’
The swell was swinging in from the North/Northeast, which is hardly ideal for Pipe. You want some West in it. Failing that, more North. You definitely don’t want any East. Makes it swing out to sea, line up to Off the Wall. Weird combination of punchy and backed-off. Lines up for a race track, but doesn’t pile on the reef and heave. More Gums than Pipe. More bad than good.
It’s a good thing that the title is already decided, that we’re not taking the first step toward crowning a world champ in what amounts to a coin flip.
There were some highlights. I thought Finn McGill, my new favorite grom, had his heat on lock with a last minute dredger somewhere around Ain’ts. The judges disagreed, left him a full two points short of what he needed. Which is far enough off that I suspect my awe had to do with the angle. People look much deeper when watching from a hundred yards towards Rockies.
Slater did an insane floater just past Backdoor. Absolutely terrifying. He had no right to absorb the rebound and ride out.
But overall the day reminded me of a sub-par run at Hossegor. Good turns, heavy lips. But not the run-and-gun barrel-fest we all desperately want to see.
Which is why I got bored, decided to play instead of sit on the bleachers and watch.
I lost interest early, while Medina, Irons, and Igarashi were getting ready to paddle out. Medina was mobbed by every Brazilian on the beach. They sure are a vocal bunch.
I stared at Rosie.
Bruce Irons looked like he’d just left the club. Aviator shades, peroxide blonde hair slicked straight back. Looking gaunt, not fit. No surprise Igarashi outpointed him at the break Irons once made his own. I’m hardly one to cast stones regarding a person’s choice of health regimen, but he truly does not look well. And it’s time, probably past due, to face the fact that he no longer deserves a spot based solely on his name and history. It’s unfortunate to see the once mighty fall, but wildcard spots come dear, and these days there are far more deserving souls.
I decided to swim from Ehukai toward Gas Chambers, bodysurf the lefts the Pupukea crowd was leaving unridden. It was the typical shit show out there. Slim tan girls in micro bottoms, surfing far better than their ilk did not long ago. Visitors in far over their heads, getting their first small taste of Hawaiian power. Paddling for every wave, backing off every drop. Shoulder hopping each other. Getting in the way. A handful of tiny boys played big-wave hero, stroking into sets at least quadruple overhead. Middle aged men on beefy shortboards showed glimpses of former talent.
Slater appeared from nowhere, grabbed the wave of the day, disappeared.
I had fun, enjoyed a long swim, managed to grab a few worth the effort. Wished I brought a board with me, but I’m not that much of a hypocrite. You don’t bring boards to a contest. Mine were at the rental, Waialua distance away.
I met a few fellow media dorks, complained about our lack of coddling. The “interview bullpen” is now erected, a five by ten foot piece of sand with no one around. It’s very obvious that the WSL doesn’t want to share, and I understand why. But you think someone would realize, it’s far easier to control the narrative when you include and corrupt people, rather than leave them to their own devices.
Worst job of the day goes the employees of Sustainable Coastlines. Poor fucking kids. I caught two of the girls sneaking cigarettes in the bushes. I gave a nod and left them to it. They deserved the moment of peace.
Picking through trash bins, sorting recyclables from compostables from plain old landfill bound garbage; no one deserves that. All the receptacles are well labeled, you’d need to be dumb or lazy to use the wrong one. Unfortunately for the worker bees the world has no shortage of either.
I cornered one girl during her break, asked if the job was as bad as I thought. Are they constantly pulling bags of dog shit from among the cans and bottles?
“I wish,” she said. “We’re used to that. It’s the diapers that are the worst.”
She was a true believer, eager to talk about the good they’re doing. I’m not so sure, tend to believe they’re ameliorating damage done, rather than improving on pre-existing conditions. But she was cute and kind and I didn’t feel like shitting on her parade. So I heard her out.
Whatever my feelings regarding efficacy, it’s nice to see that some people truly care.
Billabong Pipe Masters Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Julian Wilson (AUS) 15.07, Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 8.60, Ryan Callinan (AUS) 8.50
Heat 2: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 11.40, Kolohe Andino (USA) 9.33, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 5.40
Heat 3: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 13.34, Frederico Morais (PRT) 13.27, Nat Young (USA) 12.40
Heat 4: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 12.60, Keanu Asing (HAW) 10.83, Finn McGill (HAW) 10.50
Heat 5: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 15.10, Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 11.24, Bruce Irons (HAW) 3.40
Heat 6: John John Florence (HAW) 16.66, Jadson Andre (BRA) 10.27, Gavin Beschen (HAW) 7.84
Heat 7: Alex Ribeiro (BRA) 11.27, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 10.54, Conner Coffin (USA) 10.27
Heat 8: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 9.00, Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 9.00, Joel Parkinson (AUS) 8.77
Heat 9: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 12.34, Josh Kerr (AUS) 12.03, Adam Melling (AUS) 9.37
Heat 10: Kelly Slater (USA) 12.70, Kai Otton (AUS) 11.90, Caio Ibelli (BRA) 11.50
Heat 11: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 10.50, Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 10.20, Jack Freestone (AUS) 9.07
Heat 12: Michel Bourez (PYF) 14.24, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 14.23, Davey Cathels (AUS) 13.23
Billabong Pipe Masters Round 2 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Gavin Beschen (HAW)
Heat 2: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Bruce Irons (HAW)
Heat 3: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Finn McGill (HAW)
Heat 4: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) vs. Frederico Morais (PRT)
Heat 5: Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. Bede Durbidge (AUS)
Heat 6: Caio Ibelli (BRA) vs. Ryan Callinan (AUS)
Heat 7: Josh Kerr (AUS) vs. Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 8: Stuart Kennedy (AUS) vs. Kai Otton (AUS)
Heat 9: Conner Coffin (USA) vs. Jack Freestone (AUS)
Heat 10: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) vs. Davey Cathels (AUS)
Heat 11: Nat Young (USA) vs. Jadson Andre (BRA)
Heat 12: Keanu Asing (HAW) vs. Kanoa Igarashi (USA)
Women’s Pipe Invitational Results:
1 – Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 17.00
2 – Tyler Wright (AUS) 10.00
3 – Carissa Moore (HAW) 7.23