John John Florence, scoring one of four 9-point rides in his heat.
PIPELINE, Oahu/Hawaii (Friday, February 1, 2013) - All eyes were on Pipeline’s favorite son John John Florence at the Volcom Pipe Pro today, as a perfect pairing of phenomenal waves and supernatural talent unfolded before a highly charged beach crowd. It fast became a 25-minute Florence super session as he clocked up four incredible tube rides in succession: 9.3, 9.53, 9.73, and 9.97. His top two scores delivered the highest heat total of the competition so far – 19.7 points out of 20. But the only Electric Perfect 10 of the day went to Santa Cruz’s Nat Young, in his competitive debut at the Banzai Pipeline. Wave face heights were consistently around 15- to 20-feet today, and there were more than a day’s worth of horrific wipeouts.
In his first competitive appearance of the 2013 ASP season, this is just the beginning of a long year already loaded with expectation for Florence. Having come so close to a world title in 2012, he is prepared for the pressure but focused on surfing. If today was any indication, it will be a devastating year for his peers. Florence, 20, is the top seed and defending champion of this event.
Asked if he felt like any of his barrels today should have been a 10, he replied with a laugh: "That's a hard one to say when you're the one riding the wave, but they all felt pretty cool. I think there's probably some better waves out there."
Better waves perhaps, but not better surfing. From his dominant positioning and late take-offs, to his knife-edged bottom turns and foam-ball barrels, it was a saltwater soliloquy that left the other three surfers in the heat adrift.
"That was a really fun surf session," Florence said, all smiles on the beach. "Just being there and having no-one out, it firing like this with wave after wave after wave.... it's a pretty special feeling. I think this is one of the better days of Pipe all (winter). It was really hard to come in."
When asked which of his nines was more memorable: "The wave where I took off out the back was more of a scary one. I kind of felt like I fumbled a couple of times at the bottom and I thought I was going to get my head taken off by the lip. It was kind of a dramatic ride for me (laughs).
"Any opportunity to surf out here is just a good thing. If I wasn't in the contest and was sitting at home watching this happen with four guys out, I'd be freaking out."
Earlier on, six seconds was all it took for Nat Young to concoct the only $1,000 "Electric Perfect 10" of the day - a rare double tube ride on his first wave of his first ever Pipe competition. No stranger to the danger or the drama this place is famous for, his performance was polished and he looked in control.
"That was the best wave I've ever had out there," said Young, 21. "The wave itself was just amazing. This is the first time I've ever done a comp here so for me it's just practice. That's why I came, to get comfortable out here. I've surfed here a lot, I've been coming here every winter since I was 14, but I'm definitely intimidated out there. I was definitely nervous before my heat. To say I wasn't intimidated would be a lie.
"It just looked like a really good wave. I wasn't paddling in thinking it was going to be a 10. To get that opportunity right at the beginning was pretty nice. It was amazing. I kicked out and I was smiling. I could hear the beach (roar) after I came out, everyone cheering. It was nice."
Other standouts today included Reef McIntosh (HI); Chris Ward (Ca., USA); Josh Kerr (AUS); and Japan's Masatoshi Ohno 15.17.
Organizers will assess the surf at first light tomorrow for a possible final day of competition. Surfline.com forecasts a gradual drop in wave height with good, clean conditions.
Watch the Volcom Pipe Pro LIVE at www.volcompipepro.com
Round of 64
1st & 2nd advance, 3rd=25th, 4th=49th
H1: Jamie O’Brien (HI); Kolohe Andino (USA); Makai McNamara (HI); Kai Barger (HI) H2: Eala Stewart (HI); Joel Centeio (HI); Mitchel Coleborn (AUS); Keanu Asing (HI) H3: Bruce Irons (HI); Tanner Gudauskas (USA); Torrey Meister (HI); Yujiro Tsuji (JPN) H4: Nat Young (USA); Kahea Hart (HI); Tim Reyes (USA); Shane Beschen (USA) H5: Reef McIntosh (HI); Chris Ward (USA); Anthony Walsh (AUS); Nathan Yeomans (USA) H6: Masatoshi Ohno (JPN); Perth Standlick (AUS); Miguel Tudela (PER); Aritz Aranburu (EUK) H7: Cory Arrambide (USA); Ricardo Dos Santos (BRA); Nic Von Rupp (DEU); Koa Rothman (HI) H8: John John Florence (HI) 19.7; Pancho Sullivan (HI) 10.36; Sidney Guimaraes (BRA) 9.57; Parker Coffin (USA) 0.96 H9: Josh Kerr (AUS); Alex Gray (USA); Jeremy Johnston (USA); Nathan Florence (HI) H10: Olamana Eleogram (HI); Krystian Kymerson (BRA); Charles Martin (GLP); Steven Pierson (PYF) H11: Dale Staples (ZAF); Patrick Gudauskas (USA); Nathan Hedge (AUS); Charlie Carroll (HI) H12: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA); Cory Lopez (USA); Cristobal De Col (PER); Leandro Usuna (ARG)
Round of 96 continued from yesterday
Surfers listed in order of 1st through 4th – 1st & 2nd advance. 3rd=65th, 4th=81st
Heat 9: Nathan Florence (HI); Krystian Kymerson (Brz); Danny Fuller (HI); Simao Romao (Brz) Heat 10: Steven Pierson (PYF); Jeremy Johnston (USA); Matt Pagan (USA); Gony Zubizarreta (ESP) H11: Dale Staples (ZAF); Leandro Usuna (ARG); Makuakai Rothman (HI); Jeronimo Vargas (BRA) H12: Cristobal De Col (PER); Charlie Carroll (HI); Kalani Chapman (HI); Dane Gudauskas (USA) H13: Marcus Hickman (HI); Connor Coffin (USA); JD Irons (HI); Tanner Hendrickson (HI) H14: Ian Gentil (HI); Stephen Koehne (HI); Dylan Goodale (HI); Dillon Perillo (USA) H15: Leandro Bastos (BRA); Joshua Moniz (HI); Ian Walsh (HI); Dege O’Connell (HI) H16: Balaram Stack (USA); Sean Moody (HI); Evan Valiere (HI); Hank Gaskell (HI)