This Week In Surfing: Bourez Takes Out The Pipe Masters, Thank You Kai Otton, and The Absurdity of Nazaré

22 Dec 2016 1

Mike Jennings

Senior Writer

Kanoa pulled out an incredible clutch performance at the Pipe Masters this week to clear a spot for his buddy Zeke Lau on the 2017 Championship Tour.

Kanoa pulled out an incredible clutch performance at the Pipe Masters this week to clear a spot for his buddy Zeke Lau on the 2017 Championship Tour.

COASTALWATCH | THIS WEEK IN SURFING

Ten Things From Surfing & The Internet On The Week That Was December 23, 2016

1. Bourez Won The Pipe Masters, Igarashi Performs For His Pal

Wasn’t this a strange event? For the first time in five years, the World Title was settled before the world’s surfing elite had touched down on Oahu for the Pipe Masters, but that doesn’t stop it from being the Wimbledon of the WSL season, or some other sporting analogy thing, "Pipe Master" is the title everyone wants on their CV when they finish their surf careers and start logging onto Seek.com. So what a gosh damn bummer it was for Rounds 2 and 3 to have to be run on a day where surfers were desperately scratching for anything above a five. Where Kai Otton could beat Stuey Kennedy in Round 2 with a total heat score of 4.93! He won the heat with a pair of twos! Crazy. And in Round 3 Pipe Masters like Julian Wilson and Adriano De Souza were being knocked out of the event holding onto wavescores of a 1.17 and 0.77 respectively.

However, somehow, Conner Coffin in the same conditions was able to find a 9.07 out there (and still lose to Kelly Slater, gifting the Rookie of The Year award to Ciao Abelli).

They smashed through the comp in just three days. They even had the last heat of Round 3 to run on the final day, making it an absolute slog of a last day for the year. Michel Bourez remained the last man standing, his first win since he broke a vertebrae in a horrific Teahupo’o wipe-out last year puts him the elite company of Derek Ho, Andy Irons, and Joel Parkinson as the only surfers to have won each event of the Hawaiian Triple Crown. Top stuff.

The biggest surprise, however, was the performance of runner-up Kanoa Igarashi. Apart from Event 1 on the Gold Coast, the Californian rookie and youngest surfer on tour had finished every single event of the year in Round 3, and had to qualify for 2017 on the QS. That was until the Pipe Masters. Despite never having surfed the event, the kid took down all comers including a dominant Jordy Smith (twice) and the greatest Pipe Master of all in Kelly Slater (Twice) to make the final against Bourez. And in doing so he double qualified and cleared a spot for his friend and teammate Zeke Lau, who had finished 11th on the QS this year.

That qualification came at a cost for Santa Cruz goofy-foot Nat Young, who slipped to 23 on the rankings, and will need to hop back on the QS (depending on what Mick wants to do next year). He joins Davey Cathels, Adam Melling, Keanu Asing, Matt Banting, Dusty Payne, Alejo Muniz, Ryan Callinan and Alex Ribeiro to in falling off the tour and back onto the grind, while veteran Kai Otton will be giving the QS a miss, in a relative forced retirement from full time CT competition.

The injury wildcards have gone to Bede Durbidge and Owen Wright. Owen's acceptance of a spot on the 2016 tour is pending on medical evaluation and approval. If he is unable to compete in 2017, his injury wildcard will go to Alejo Muniz.

But biggest news of the week is the news that I won, and won convincingly, the Coastalwatch/Surfing World office Fantasy Surfing competition. Take that Ben Macartney!

And that’s a wrap on the 2016 WSL 2016. Check ya later scumbags.

SEE ALSO: Weekend Surf Forecast 23 - 25 December

2. I Made A Kai Otton Tribute Clip Because There Wasn't One

With Kai Otton finishing 28th on the CT this year, and electing not to do the QS in 2017, the Pipe Masters marks the final event of Kai Otton as a full time CT competitor. Kai's stated that he wants to surf the trials a Teahupo'o and Fiji, so we'll hopefully see him packing heavy tubes in a WSL jersey again next year, but that stated, not having Kai Otton on tour is a mad bummer. Kai Otton is a legend. He qualified at the age of 27, carved out a decade on tour, showed his best when it got big, and his funniest when it didn't. We're gonna miss Kai Otton, but much more than missing Kai Otton, we're gonna miss Sean Doherty writing about Kai Otton. His words on surfing's "George Costanza", as he called him, were the best, the best Jerry.

Anyway, I tried to find a tribute clip to honour the Tathra champ, but couldn't, so I made one on my phone yesterday. It might be the dumbest thing I've ever done.


3. Jamie Mitchell Won Nazaré

While Kanoa Igarashi and Michel Bourez were comparing head-dips in the dying seconds of the Pipe Masters, Jamie Mitchell, Carlos Burle, Damien Hobgood, Twiggy Baker, Aaron Gold, Kai Lenny, Billy Kemper, Greg Long and many more were getting ready to face the absolutely ridiculous and terrifying prospect of competing in the Big Wave World Tour event, the Nazaré Challenge in Portugal. Australia's Jamie Mitchell won it in the 30-40 foot unpredictable washing machine. Unlike Jaws, which while big and scary seems to have some form of an organised line-up, this comp is a ridiculous mess of shifting peaks and clean up sets that shows little rhyme or reason to how, where, and when it breaks. I have no idea how these men were paddling around in the ice-cold brine for this. But they did. So we watched it, jaws to the floor. It's Mitchell's first Big Wave World Tour event win, a trophy he can add to his record ten Molokai to Oahu race wins.

Oh, and how's this for a new Nazaré angle? 

SEE ALSO: Sean Doherty On: Pipe Masters Finals, The Pacific Milk Run


4. John John's Oop

As Sean Doherty wrote, "In a perfect world, the highlight of the contest happens during the actual contest – not on a layday." On one of the laydays of the Billabong Pipe Masters In Memory of Andy Irons, Kelly Slater scored a backdoor barrel, flew out on the face and launched a huge alley-oop. It was the combo move of the season, and was the highlight of the day... until John John landed this freaking thing later in the same session. Would you have a look at it?It's the greatest alley-oop ever landed, actually, it's the greatest air ever landed. The amount of time he has to pick his landing, and the amount of control he has on the descent, is just astounding. Isn't it strange how it looks like he's in slow motion as he spins through the air?

5. See What John Sees by Hurley


Hurley released this lovely celebration clip slash campaign of John John Florence’s progression to World Champion, and his growing up on the North Shore. Short and sharp, the sound of an old film reel, some light ukulele, and some childhood clips projected on his garage, all book-ended between an interview question and his answer, very lovely indeed. Sigh, I wish I was a Hawaiian World Champion.

SEE ALSO: The Top Ten Waves In 2016 As Rated By The Guy Who Has Seen Them All

6. Kai Hing, Splashing


Shane Fletcher has been the dude behind some of Noa Deane’s best and Surfer Poll Award winning clips, and here he lends his lens and editing touch to the surfing of Sunshine Coaster Kai Hing for a banger of hard high energy surfing. Some chunky backhand barrels in here too between the carves and airs. We didn’t see a whole lot of Kai Hing this year, hopefully this the mark of a big 2017 to come.

7. Ando, Arthouse For HaydenShapes


A new five minute clip of Craig Anderson? Hell yep. Some interesting angles and crops in this moody number, for Hayden Shapes' new model, Black Noiz. After Ando’s riding of the Hypto Krypto made it the most popular surfboard model in the world, it’ll be interesting to see if this high concept clip will help move these sleds in the same way. This would be amazing in a theater… but watching it in a cafe on my shitty macbook screen makes the Jim Jarmusch sampling edit a little tougher to get into. The shots from the four minute mark are beautiful, though. The foot placement and highline at 4.07, so rad.

SEE ALSONick Carroll Says Pay Up Damn It

8. Winter The Grommet


For Hurley’s Wave For Water, comes this fantastical narrated short surf film about their surf to school program. Winter Vincent is the kid’s name, he rips too. For more info on the project and how you can get involved you can check out the Surf To School site.


9. Mason Ho's 2016

It's no news that 2016 was all in all a pretty shitty year, but one person it wasn’t bad for was Mr. Mason Ho. The funnest surfer alive won two Surfer Poll awards and thousands of new fans in the last 12 months. His infectious energy, and his video game approach to riding waves made him perhaps the most entertaining surfer on the planet, as evident in this 2016 recap of the guy, put together by his filmer Rory Pringle with Red Bull.

SEE ALSO: 5 Things You Didn't Know About Nazare by Ross Clarke-Jones

10. Sabre Was On Ellen

Young Novocastrian and daughter of Olympic medallist Justin Norris, Sabre Norris has the knack for viral fame that brands would kill for, and viral fame doesn’t get any bigger than getting on Ellen and absolutely killing it. Which is exactly what she did this week. Also, she’s ripping! Can Sabre Norris do air reverses? An 11-year-old girl doing air-reverses? That is outrageous.

11. Radical Times On The North Shore

Quiksilver dropped their North Shore highlights edit just as I was wrapping up this bloody thing, so it sneaks on here for no.11. Young Aussie Kael Walsh is looking good amongst Hawaiian power, but the highlight here is the candid view of Zeke Lau and Kanoa Igarashi celebrating Lau's qualification onto the CT. Radical times indeed.

Bonus... The Weak Wrap Awards

Put on your best suit or dress and head to the open bar, because Surfing World's Danny Johnson is hosting the Weak Wrap awards, and he's holding no prisoners!

And while he's handing out awards, I'll hand one out too. Best new web seires of the year: Weak Wrap!

And that was this week in surfing. Have a good weekend everyone, and have a Christmas. Happy everything. Next week I'll be dropping my end of the year thing. I dunno.... Does anyone read this part? Probably not, huh.

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