Two pivotal reasons why you won't be seeing a Pipe Master crowned at the tour's opening event…
You win a Grand Slam event at Pipe, you’re a Pipe Master, a crown almost as gilded as a world title, yeah?
Couple of reasons why you ain’t gonna see a Pipe Master crowned at the opening event, even if it is at Pipe.
The contest is called the Billabong Pro Pipeline.
There’s no mention of the Pipe Masters, the longest running professional event in surfing (Bells didn’t go pro until 1973), ‘cause Billabong’s contract as the title sponsor of the Pipe Masters ran out in 2021
Wanna know why?
The WSL, and Vans who own the intellectual property rights to the Pipe Masters, couldn’t swing a mutually satisfying agreement with Billabong for ‘em to continue as naming sponsor of the event.
So the name reverts to Vans.
Thus, we have the Billabong Pro Pipeline.
If you’ve been kicking around for long enough you’ll remember the Billabong Pro events, which were pivotal events in the Hawaiian Triple Crown in the eighties and nineties.
In an ironic turn since he just got dumped from the Pipe broadcasting team, BL won the Billabong Pro in 88, held at Pipeline, and his world crown, a champ but no Pipe Master; in 1986, the Billabong Pro ran one of its days at Waimea and was so big two Australian pro’s, Bryce Ellis and Gary Green, refused to paddle out.
Changing the tour climax from the North Shore to Sam Clemente played hell with the Hawaiian schedule, too.
See, because the WSL’s wanted to start the 2022 season in Hawaii and end it at Trestles in September, they had to run the 2021 Pipe Masters in January. Therefore there couldn’t be two events in the same year so the usual December slot wasn’t used.
This meant that for 2022, the WSL had to juggle the events and come up with new dates and names.
The Volcom Pipe Pro got dropped in favour of Billabong taking over that slot.
Still, the Pipe Masters is gonna be on, usual dates, December 8-20, 2022
The WSL and Vans are still negotiating over what status Pipe is gonna be although the prizemoney is rumoured to be off the charts (Squid Games filled Vans’ already considerable coffers) and with the WSL taking the Triple Crown off the contest surfing table, Vans are psyching to run a big and heavily promoted event.