This Week In Surfing: Gerry Lopez Back At Uluwatu, John John Is Doing The Best Surfing Ever Done, & Should We Move The Pipe Masters?

3 Feb 2017 1

Mike Jennings

Senior Writer

COASTALWATCH | THIS WEEK IN SURFING

Ten Things From Surfing & The Internet On The Week That Was February 3, 2017

1. The Volcom Pipe Pro Starts Today And Here's An Idea

Dumb Idea: Can We Move The Pipe Masters? Changethedate?

So the best event on the WSL calendar that isn’t on the Championship Tour finally got underway this morning after four days of lay days. The beginning of the comp has unfortunately followed a couple days of pumping Pipe, and a week after the all-time Da Hui Shootout which saw some of the best waves of the Hawaiian season.The Volcom Pipe Pro is in its eight year, and over its history has had just three winners, with Jamie O’Brien taking the first, Kelly Slater taking the last and 2014, while John John has claimed the other four, with nearly all of them being surfed in spectacular conditions. And it’s an interesting comp, not just in that it’s always entertaining, and the fact it’s married to Volcom can free it up for a slightly more relaxed broadcast, but because of it being a WSL comp at Pipeline that we can directly compare with the Billabong Pipe Masters, particularly with the waves each event has scored the last few years. 

The Pipe Masters is our gold ribbon event. It’s our Superbowl Sunday, our Boxing Day Test, our Wimbledon. It is by far surfing’s most famous wave, and the Masters surfing’s most revered competition (perhaps only rivalled by The Eddie and, for Australians, Bells), and it’s current form it not only serves as the event surfers want to win more than any other, but also as the conclusion of the WSL season, more often than not deciding who wins the World Title (due to the dropping of the surfer’s two lowest scores of the year, it is very very difficult to win the World Title before the last event, like Tyler and John did in 2016). And so what a let-down it is when we see what we saw in 2015, when Gabriel Medina shut down Mick Fanning’s Title chances with an air reverse. That’s not the Pipe Masters as we grow up believing it to be. Even worse was the last Pipe Masters in 2016 when the final day was surfed in waste high runners, Michel Bourez winning the comp againt Kanoa Igarashi in what he called  the weirdest final ever. The real bummer of the 2016 Pipe Masters though came in round 3 when surfers like Pipe Master Julian Wilson, World Champ Adriano De Souza and Triple Crown winner Sebastien Ziets were eliminated out of the competition holding onto wave scores of 1.17, 0.77, and 1.57 respectively. In Round 2 of that same comp Kai Otton eliminated Stu Kennedy with a heat total of 4.93 ( combo of wave scores 2.7 and 2.23) which has to be some sort of record for the lowest score to win a Pipe Masters heat. Ridiculous stuff.

When you compare the last few years of the Pipe Masters, highlight package by highlight package, with the Volcom Pipe Pro, it’s clear which comp is scoring it better, and all without the weight of the most revered single event title in surfing, or the high drama of the end of the WSL season. So that begs the question, if you could switch the events so that the World Title was decided in waves you see in the clip below, would you?

The NFL, NBA, and NHL begin and end in different years, as do all the major European football leagues, and even surfing has had a history of ending mid year at Narrabeen and Manly. The WSL junior World Title finishes in January too, which doesn’t really make a lot of sense, but if anything at all proves that the wrapping up the Title, and perhaps more importantly, the greatest event in surfing, nice and neat before Christmas is not a true necessity.

Let’s make one thing clear, this idea lacks any scientific data, or any general intelligent thought at all… and it’s being written by a kook who’s never even set foot on the hallowed Hawaiian sands of the North Shore, and today’s conditions being far from classic Pipe is proving that this really is a remarkably dumb idea, but, and this is a big but, if on Saturday (Hawaiian time) it’s 15 foot, double overhead (as forecast) and perfect for yet another John John or Kelly Slater Volcom Pipe Pro victory, overshadowing our most regal event for yet another year… it might not seem that dumb. It might just seem genius. Imagine that! Me, a genius! That’d be something.

You just know though that if the WSL was to take the gamble and move the event, Pipe would the greatest its ever been on December 10, and January and February would a skunkfest. Surfing is cruel like that.

But what do you think? Would it piss you off to see the end of the surfing year end in the back half of the Hawaiian Winter?

SEE ALSO: Weekend Surf Forecast 3 - 5 February

2. John John Wraps Up 12

Speaking of the Volcom Pipe Pro, the event’s all time leading winner, with four wins, John John Florence released the final instalment of his standout web series, 12. Geez, this was good. That opening sequence shot with such superb handling of cinematography matched with the song "Truth" by Alex Alexander sums up perfectly how top notch this series was. The rest of the clip details John’s Hawaiian comp season, winning the Triple Crown but unfortunately not getting that much wanted Pipe Masters title. Oh, and then there’s the freesurfing. Which is some of the best aerial surfing ever seen. Those full rotation air reverses, my god. Not to mention the hooks he does under the lip on some bigger rights. Oh, and you have to see the alley oop he nails. He really is doing the best surfing that’s ever been done. Freakshow.

3. Gerry Lopez Is Still The Man

"I wanted to say something about waves…”

From Patagonia comes this neat 25 minute documentary of the original Pipe Master Gerry Lopez (kinda, Hakman won the first) returning to Uluwatu, a wave he helped pioneer after following Wayne Lynch there with Jack McCoy. It ticks along with typical guitar finger picking and shots of Lopez and fans doing yoga and whatnot, and then Lopez gets on the mic and says, “I wanted to say something about waves…” and all of a sudden you’re sitting up in your chair and hanging on every word. How lucky we are to have such a wise soul in our sport and culture of surfing. Gerry Lopez, what a dude.

SEE ALSO: The Top 3 Places You Have To Surf Before You Die

4. Mitch Parko Released A Banger

If you’re ever wondering how talented you have to be to make it as a pro surfer, look no further than Mitch Parkinson. The cousin of World Champ and style master Joel Parkinson, Mitch is one of the standout surfers at the elite line-up of Snapper whenever it’s firing (you might remember that wave he got seven separate barrels in February last year), and he’s capable of dropping banger clips like this one. The guy is elite, but Mitch finished 112th on the QS last year, which is his career best result, and recently broke up with his long time major sponsor in Billabong. Isn't it a tough game, the pro surf game? So I guess we’ll take this clip as a big old sponsor me billboard. Props to Owen Milne on the edit, too.

5. Jack Robinson Won Sunset! His First QS Win!

Not the Sunset... but a comp at Sunset nonetheless. The Sunset Open is a QS1,000, putting it in the top three QS events held at Sunset Beach (after the HIC Pro Sunset Beach QS3,000, and the legit Vans World Cup QS10,000) in a year. The WSL calls it one of the highest quality and hotly contested QS 1,000 events in the world. So of the lowest ranked QS events, make no mistake, this is one of the best of those. Jack Robinson is good out there though, he finished second at the HIC Pro two months ago. That’s no surprise, Jack Robinson is good everywhere, which is why it’s frustrating to see that apart from winning the Pipe Trials two years ago, we haven’t seen him win a comp or nail a result that’ll put him on track to be the future face of Australian surfing we’re gunning for him to be.

There was no highlight footage from this competition available online, so instead let’s enjoy this blast from the past with Jack surfing on the Gold Coast with his mates, 2016 WSL rookie Kanoa Igarashi and 2017 WSL rookie Leo Fioravanti, back when they were super-groms. Come on Jack, take out the Volcom Pipe Pro, you can do it!!!

SEE ALSO: Bruce Raymond On: Wisdom From Life Spent In The Ocean

6. Here's Noa Deane Surfing In Mexico

This footage is old, ancient history, back in the forgotten era when Noa Deane was on Rusty and didn’t have bright red hair like a rainbow lorikeet. But that doesn’t matter, becauae it’s Noa Deane, who is awesome at surfing, and it’s Mexico which has waves ideal for doing awesome surfing on. Some power chord overdrive surfing in this tight 165 seconds.

7. A Little Sabre Norris Documentary – Flying Donuts

Derek Rielly formerly of Stab, currently of Beach Grit, recently got together with filmmaker Luke Farquar and professional vibe enhancer Stefan Hunt to make this great high-end mini-documentary on viral surf star Sabre Norris. Sabre's enthusiasm is infectious and the whole film is beautifully shot and edited. Irrelevent sidenote: Derek is the guy who gave me my start in writing about surfing and was the first dude to get me paid in actual money, not free CDs or gig tickets, for tapping on a keyboard. And look at me now, writing stupid ideas about moving the Pipe Masters out of December! Thanks Derek.

VIDEO: The Burleigh Pro Free Surf Sessions

8. Brown Bear's North Shore Goodies

Where did this Brown Bear guy come from? Out of that nowhere that great things seem to appear, he’s popped out and dropped the two best clips from the North Shore in consecutive weeks. This session comes from Jan 26, Wayne Gretzky’s birthday, at Pipeline and features Mike Ho and Kelly Slater and probably some other bald legends packing serious Pipeline. What a shame the Volcom Pipe Pro’s waiting period didn’t begin a couple days earlier, hey?

9. Filipe On The Shred

This clip would normally really excite, but after watching the air show in John John’s last episode of 12, it leaves you a little dry, no? That said, if Filipe can stay injury free in 2017 he will strike fear into any man who contends for this year’s title. It’s the most open Title race in years, and at the time of writing all surfers in the top 32 are tied at first place! And last place. It's that tight! Crazy!

SEE ALSO: Nick Carroll On: Paddling Faster and Stronger

10. Pumping Honolua Bay + Ty Segall = This!

Ty Segall is so the best. And this 2010 album, Melted, is so good, from which lead single Girlfriend provides the backing for this killer clip. Every year when the final event of the Women’s Championship Tour rolls around to Honolua Bay on Maui, I freak at just how fun and rippable a wave it seems, so it’s great to see it with just a little bit more juice in this clip of locals and pros having the most fun time. Look how much fun they are having. The most fun.

Bonus... Weak Wrap

Click play and laugh out loud at the funniest episode of the best web series in surfing yet. Bravo. Bra-lol-vo!

And that was this week in surfing. Have a good weekend friends. You deserve it.

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