The Billabong Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons, the final stop on the Vans Triple Crown (an ASP Specialty Series), roared back to life today with Pipeline delivering clean four-to-six foot (2 metre) Backdoor barrels for one of the most electrifying days of competition this year.
The final stop of the 2010 ASP World Tour season, the Billabong Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons rampaged through Rounds 3, 4 and 5 before capping the day with the Vans Duel for the Jewel, a four-woman battle royale being held (for the first time) at the infamous Pipeline.
Kelly Slater (USA), 38, reigning 10-time ASP World Champion, continued to assert his dominance amongst the world’s best surfers today by posting the event’s only Perfect 10, weaving through a bombing backdoor barrel en route to a Round 4 win and advancing directly through to the Quarterfinals.
“There are really good waves when they come,” Slater said. “There’s only one or two in a set, but they’re really good when they come. That 10 was a long one. It had that good north corner on it and the right was just growing. That one hit the reef really well.”
With Slater’s 10th ASP World Title having been decided in Puerto Rico, the six-time Billabong Pipe Masters Champion is taking a more light-hearted approach to competition in the final event of the year.
“At this point, I’ve had a great year and I’m happy,” Slater said. “I’m happy to make it through heats, but if I don’t, this is a fun event for me now and hopefully we’ll get some good waves.”
Slater will surf against Adrian Buchan (AUS), 28, in Quarterfinal No. 2.
Buchan locked into amazing barrels on both his forehand and backhand today to
advance though to the Quarterfinals, and is now the only surfer who can overtake current Vans Triple Crown leader Joel Parkinson (AUS), 29, for the prestigious Hawaiian series title.
“I’d love to win the Triple Crown,” Buchan said. “It’s a huge prize, but I have a lot of work to do. I do have a chance though and that’s all I need.”
Buchan needs to win the Billabong Pipe Masters to clinch the 2010 Vans Triple Crown.
For the first time in history, the Vans Women’s Triple Crown of Surfing culminated at Pipeline today, with reigning four-time ASP Women’s World Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), 22, Hawaiian powerhouse Coco Ho (HAW), 19, and 2011 ASP Women’s World Tour qualifiers Tyler Wright (AUS), 16, and Alana Blanchard (HAW), 20, battling it out in classic Pipeline conditions.
When the dust settled, it was Gilmore who navigated the treacherous conditions to earn her third Vans Triple Crown title by winning the Vans Duel for the Jewel at Backdoor Pipeline.
“I would trade it all to have another session out there with no one out,” Gilmore said. “It was just exciting to be out there with the girls. I got pretty smashed on my first wave, but you just get in to a zone where you want the biggest and best waves and I got that one nice barrel.”
In addition to the high scores and Vans Triple Crown race, today’s Billabong Pipe Masters provided the final chance for surfers looking to qualify for the 2011 ASP Dream Tour.
Maui’s Dusty Payne (HAW), 21, issued the upset of the day by eliminating two-time ASP World Champion Mick Fanning (AUS), 29, in an astonishing comeback with a near-perfect heat to requalify for the 2011 ASP World Tour.
Payne, who was in need of a combination of 17.94 to overtake Fanning to advance out of his Round 3 bout, rose to a historic comeback in the last 10 minutes of the heat by capitalizing on his intimate knowledge of Backdoor Pipeline. The talented natural-footer navigated through two amazing barrels on his forehand in an impressive barrel-riding duel against fanning to net a 9 and a 9.87 (the day’s highest heat total) in the dying seconds of the heat to eliminate the Australian Champion while simultaneously solidifying his position on the 2011 ASP World Tour.
“Mick (Fanning) is not a guy you want to draw anywhere in the world,” Payne said. “I knew whoever I had was going to be tough and that I just had to make it through the heat. I was out there thinking ‘this is how you’re going to lose, you’re going to get comboed at your own spot?’ Then I got that 9. Then with 20 seconds left there was another one. I got so weak because I knew I had to catch that wave and make it. I was filled with emotions and thought I was off tour, and then I saw that last one and knew it was a 9.”
Payne eventually fell to ASP World Tour veteran Kieren Perrow (AUS), 33, in a Round 5 Backdoor barrel shootout.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to win the Pipe Masters, so I just want to keep focused on that,” Perrow said. “If that comes through that’d be special and it’d definitely help me on the ratings. It was a slow year for me. I had a really poor start and I got some results through the back half of the year. It’s good to enter this event not needing a result to stay on tour and I just want to keep getting barreled.”
Owen Wright (AUS), 20, continued to prove himself among the elite ranks, taking out heat wins over stylish natural-footer Joel Parkinson (AUS), 29, before relegating defending Billabong Pipe Masters Champion Taj Burrow (AUS), 32, to Round 5 in their Round 4 bout.
“I knew it was going to be a really tough heat against Parko (Joel Parkinson),” Wright said. “He’s such a good barrel rider and I knew he was going for that Triple Crown, but I want to end my year with a bang as well. I knew that going in to the heat and I wasn’t going to give him an inch. We had a great tussle and were battling for position that whole heat. I was pretty lucky to get that score right at the end. I’m pretty stoked to get through that one.”
The ASP Dream Tour rookie also displayed his impressive backhand barrel-riding skills by driving through several racy waves at Backdoor.
“I found the conditions on my backhand really tough,” Wright said. “A lot of the barrels, I’d get right to the end and the waves would have this backwash fold to it and clamp you right at the end. I would just get so slowed down, but there are some great waves out there.”
Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow morning at 7am to assess conditions for a possible 8am start.
When competition resumes, up first will be Owen Wright (AUS), 20, up against Jeremy Flores (FRA), 22, in the opening Quarterfinal heat.
Highlights from the Billabong Pipe Masters will be available via http://triplecrownofsurfing.com/billabongpipemasters/
Billabong Pipe Masters Round 3 Results:
Heat 1: Taj Burrow (AUS) 15.00 def. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 8.33
Heat 2: Owen Wright (AUS) 7.40 def. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 4.17
Heat 3: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 11.33 def. Adam Melling (AUS) 3.27
Heat 4: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 11.66 def. Fred Patacchia (HAW) 11.50
Heat 5: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 17.10 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 14.00
Heat 6: Kelly Slater (USA) 16.90 def. John Florence (HAW) 14.23
Heat 7: Kieren Perrow (AUS) 17.10 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 12.87
Heat 8: Damien Hobgood (USA) 12.50 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 9.10
Heat 9: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 10.93 def. David Wassell (HAW) 10.66
Heat 10: Dane Reynolds (USA) 13.43 def. Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 11.66
Heat 11: Taylor Knox (USA) 14.66 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 14.34
Heat 12: Dusty Payne (HAW) 18.87 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 17.94
Billabong Pipe Masters Round 4 Results:
Heat 1: Owen Wright (AUS) 13.66, Taj Burrow (AUS) 10.40, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 4.97
Heat 2: Kelly Slater (USA) 14.17, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 10.23, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 8.17
Heat 3: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 16.27, Kieren Perrow (AUS) 15.03, Damien Hobgood (USA) 6.67
Heat 4: Taylor Knox (USA) 12.33, Dane Reynolds (USA) 11.54, Dusty Payne (HAW) 6.60
Billabong Pipe Masters Round 5 Results:
Heat 1: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 16.30 def. Taj Burrow (AUS) 11.60
Heat 2: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 16.34 def. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 9.43
Heat 3: Kieren Perrow (AUS) 17.90 def. Dusty Payne (HAW) 17.67
Heat 4: Dane Reynolds (USA) 11.23 def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 10.84
Billabong Pipe Masters Quarterfinal Match-Ups:
QF 1: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Jeremy Flores (FRA)
QF 2: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Adrian Buchan (AUS)
QF 3: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Kieren Perrow (AUS)
QF 4: Taylor Knox (USA) vs. Dane Reynolds (USA)
Vans Duel for the Jewel Final:
1 – Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 14.50
2 – Tyler Wright (AUS) 7.50
3 – Coco Ho (HAW) 6.86
4 – Alana Blanchard (HAW) 1.50