The opening day of the Billabong Pipeline Masters was Wednesday, December 8. Then, the surfing's most storied event took a week off before resuming. But when it came back to life, Pipeline (or, really, it's twin, Backdoor) didn't fail to disappoint.
The most exciting moments of the day came from the 21-year-old Dusty Payne -- the first World Tour surfer to ever emerge from the nearby island of Maui. When Payne paddled out for his round three heat with Mick Fanning, there were a few things on the line. First off, Joel Parkinson had lost in Heat 2, and now Fanning was one of two surfers who could potentially foil Parko's third Vans Triple Crown. There was also the little business of Payne's career on the World Tour being on the line. If Payne lost, it was back to the qualifying leagues.
Fanning had Payne comboed twice -- trailing at one point by 17.94 points -- but each. Then, just seconds before the horn, Payne slipped into a beastly Backdoor cavern and scored a 9.87 to get the highest heat total of the day with an 18.87, edging out Fanning. It almost seemed the revelers at the Volcom Pipe house would get a pig on a spit in his honor.
On the beach, Fanning couldn't have been more gracious with hugs and handshakes.
"It was really a win-win situation for me," said Fanning, "He's such a good kid, but he had a rough year. He's destined for greatness, so I was glad. I knew what he needed and I told him there was one more wave."
The other riveting heat of the day was Payne's Round 5 heat against Kieren Perrow. Payne notched a solid score on one of the few true Pipeline lefts of the day. Then, it was again in the closing minutes that Payne posted an 8.57. But Perrow, who had earlier in the day threaded a seemingly impossible pit, came through another for 9.9 to send Payne packing.
The only perfect 10 of the day came from Mr. Ten Titles, Kelly Slater, who disappeared forever behind a thick curtain and came out to lay down a devastating frontside cutback. In a day of stellar barrel riding, Jeremy Flores, of France, who has made an admirable late-season push, notched a 9.10 in Round 3 and a 9.97 in Round 5.
The day ended with the Vans Dual for the Jewel, the one-heat Triple Crown finale for the ASP women. Since the Billabong Pro Maui had been dropped from the schedule this year, the top four women in the Triple Crown standings after the first two events were given one heat at Pipe.
If this was a slow heat it was the fault of the Pacific Ocean and not the women. They charged fearlessly into Backdoor pits, traveling through the tube into difficult closeout sections. Unfortunately, it was one of the most wave-starved 30 minutes of the day.
Three-time Womens World Champ, Stephanie Gilmore, was bounced off the reef after her first wave, which she claimed shook the nerves out and allowed her to come through the winning shack for an 8.83 and the event win and her third Vans Triple Crown.
"Hopefully this will start something for the future, maybe a stand alone event there," offered Gilmore.
Adrian 'Ace' Buchan is now the only competitor who can take the Triple Crown away from Parkinson, but he must finish first to do so. The Pipe Masters will likely continue tomorrow (Thursday) with the quarterfinals and run through completion.
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
Vans Duel for the Jewel:
1: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 14.50
2:Tyler Wright (AUS) 7.50
3: Coco Ho (HAW) 6.86
4: Alana Blanchard (HAW) 1.50
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)