Vaughany B at the Volcom Pipe Pro

29 Jan 2015 0

Jamie O'Brien swoops at Pipe to take our his Round 1 heat at Day 1 of the Volcom Pipe Pro. Photo: Bielmann

Jamie O'Brien swoops at Pipe to take our his Round 1 heat at Day 1 of the Volcom Pipe Pro. Photo: Bielmann

Day 1 of The Volcom Pipe Pro

By Vaughan Blakey

Dear you, yes you, reading this what I am writing. I want you to know something about you and me. We’re kind of the same person. What do I mean? Well, we both love surfing, right? And we both dig watching comps. And if Kelly Slater came up and said “Hey man, you got any wax?” we’d probably both freak out and say something like “Good thanks, how are you? I find bacon rainbows are particularly nosey at this time of year. Bellybutton.” I guess what I’m trying to say is we’re both fans of pro surfing and today the first major event of the 2015 World Surf League got underway at Pipeline. It’s called The Volcom Pipe Pro and for people like you and me… us… the surf fan… it is awesome!

The Alien, Gav Beschen on the lean.

The Alien, Gav Beschen on the lean.

Let’s start with the star of today’s show – the waves. In the morning Pipeline was clean and glassy and pretty much perfect but it was also monstrous and terrifying and looked capable of bashing human skeletons into fine white reef dust. The early conditions reminded me of a line from a song by Mylie and the Milkshakes: “She looks real pretty like the sunshine but she’s really scary like Frankenstein.” It also reminded me of a line from a song by John Prine, “She likes ketchup on her scrambled eggs, she swears like a sailor when she shaves her legs.” It reminded me less of a line from a song by Nikki Minaj “My anaconda don’t want none unless you got buns, hon,” but to be fair I don’t think Nikki had Pipeline in mind when she wrote it. Either way the decision to run on day one was an easy one for contest director Marty Thomas who wanted to get the party started before Kona turned up like a drunk uncle and ruined the fun for everyone.

Uncle Derek turned back the clock. Classic Pipe style.

Uncle Derek turned back the clock. Classic Pipe style.

The first round saw some beautifully ridden barrels by a mostly Hawaiian field. A new four man priority system created a wonderful sense of peace in the line-up which fell N’sync (word JT) with the easy going vibes back on the beach. Having only ever been to Hawaii in late November/December, it was bizarre to experience such breezy chilled out mellowness, be it standing in line at the Foodland Starbucks or finding a parking spot along the Kam highway close to the comp. The rumours I’d heard for so long were true. All that desperation and posturing that comes with the last comps of the year head banging into the first swells of the winter is a long distant memory by New Year’s Day. The North Shore becomes one big backyard BBQ and everyone’s invited. I’ll have ribs thanks Kaiborg!

Makua Rothman went hard but retired injured.

Makua Rothman went hard but retired injured.

The big heat of the day was the Last Chance Qualifier, a super battle royale that pitted eight Pipeline legends against each other for a final spot in the draw. Breaking from the usual comp format this was to be a 40 minute heat with only the best single ride to count and as is often the case when heavyweights hit the water, the surf responded with some of the heebie-jeebiest sets of the morning. 1993 World Champ Derek Ho did nothing to diminish his outstanding Pipeline legacy with a couple of wild drainers at Pipe and Backdoor while current WSL Big Wave World Tour ratings leader Makua Rothman was typically fearless, suffering a mild shoulder injury on what could have been the days first 10 had he not been clamped on exit just like something that gets clamped while exiting from something. Gavin Beschen, a man they call “the Alien”, came within 2/10s of a point from taking the heat with a nugget that look like it’d been crafted by the mutant glass blowers of Planet Zorb if indeed there is such a place that also happens to have a race of mutant wave blowers living on it. In the end though, it was Bruce Irons who swung late into the water tunnel of the day to seal his spot in the event for real and f’real. In many ways the result was more than just a win for Bruce, it was also a win for me and for you, the surf fan, because as we know, when it comes to surfing contests there’s nothing better than keeping your Irons in the fire. I like that pun and I think it’s a good place to end.

Brucey Irons on the wave that sealed him the last spot in the Volcom Pipe Pro.

Brucey Irons on the wave that sealed him the last spot in the Volcom Pipe Pro.


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