When describing surfing the word "epic" is recklessly thrown out, but that's probably the most accurate term to describe the quality of waves at the Volcom Pipe Pro yesterday. The surf was huge and unruly in the morning, but cleaned up in the afternoon. It was classic Banzai Pipeline: big, barreling 8- to 12-foot lefts poured in for the 5-Star World Qualifying Series event for the last half of the day.
Nat Young, 21, caught the barrel of his life in the fourth heat of the round of 64. The goofy-foot from Santa Cruz, Calif., won his heat and got a perfect Pipeline barrel in the process.
"That was the best wave I've ever had out there," explained Young about the 10-point ride. "The wave itself was just amazing. I wasn't paddling into it thinking it was going to be a 10."
"A big factor in the day's epic surf was the swell direction, but also the wind," said Reef McInstosh. The 36-year-old from Hanalei, Hawaii, won his round of 64 heat and claimed that Pipeline was as good as it gets.
"I hate to say it, but it was probably the best day of the year [at Pipe]," said McIntosh. "Obviously the direction [of the swell] is west/northwest and there is a couple of Backdoor waves, but the majority of the best rides are lefts and the wind is so nice. Wind is so important out here it turned a lot more easterly and it was blowing the barrel wide open."
For local guys like McIntosh, doing well at the Volcom Pipe Pro would be a nice payday, but the real benefit of a good result is a golden ticket into the Pipe Masters in December. The top eight finishing Association of Surfing Professional Hawaii surfers, who are not on the World Championship Tour (WCT), win a wild-card entry into the final jewel of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing.
"I don't really care about [WQS] points, unfortunately I don't really chase points and do that many events," explained McIntosh. "The only [event] I really like doing is this one and I feel like the most important thing for a guy like me is to get in the Pipe Masters so if I can get in there that's the cherry on top for me. I mean winning would be nice, I really want to win [the Volcom Pipe Pro], but I really want to get in the Pipe Masters."
McIntosh posted a 17.17 out of a possible 20 points in the round of 64 and had the highest two-wave total of the event, until the current Mr. Pipeline, John John Florence, paddled out two heats later. The 20-year-old WCT surfer put on a tube-riding clinic yesterday, posting a 19.70 two-wave heat total. Florence caught four rides in the excellent score range and threw away a 9.53 and 9.73.
"It was a really fun surf session, especially because there was no one out," said Florence. " It was firing wave after wave after wave, and I think it was one of the better days at Pipe and Backdoor all year."
Round of 64
Surfers listed in order of 1st through 4th -- 1st and 2nd advance, 3rd=25th, 4th=49th
Heat 1: 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); Pancho Sullivan (HI); Sidney Guimaraes (BRA); Parker Coffin (USA)
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 and 2nd advance. 3rd=65th, 4th=81st
H9: Nathan Florence (HI); Krystian Kymerson (Brz); Danny Fuller (HI); Simao Romao (Brz)
H10: 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)