Don't Mess With Kelly
Kelly Slater is the best surfer in the world, and the scary thing is that he seems to be actually getting better the older he gets. With a convincing win at the Volcom Pipeline Pro, an event he controlled from beginning to end, he's proved yet again he has no equal in the water.
In December, Slater won the Billabong Pipeline Masters, and a month later he's now the Volcom Pipeline Pro champion. It's safe to say that even at 41 years old, he hasn't skipped a beat. Focused on a record 12th world title in 2014, he's going to be hard to beat if he keeps surfing like this.
"This was some of the best Pipe I've ever surfed in my life," said Slater after the win. That's saying a lot considering how seasoned he is at the break. "There were some really gnarly, intense, kind of vicious waves this morning."
Everybody loves Kelly Slater, even those who weren't alive when he won his first six world titles.
"I remember coming here when I was 12 years old, I met Joey Buran on the trail the morning after he won the Pipe Masters in 1984," reflected Slater. "I came down here to watch, and the first wave I saw just barreled and spat and I felt like this big door, this whole other world just opened up to me on that day. I fell in love with Pipeline that moment, and it's been my favorite wave ever since."
When your father is a former Pipe Masters and more or less invented the backside "pig-dog" technique, you learn a few things. Mason Ho put the family DNA to good use throughout a stellar showing at the Pipe Pro. A third-place finish in the first major event of the year gets his 2014 campaign off to a strong start.
After dealing with myriad injuries last year, Dusty Payne seems to have gotten his groove back. Looking like a contender all the way up through the semifinals, he just couldn't find the waves he was looking for to make it into the final. Refocused and back in fighting form, 2014 could be a good year for Payne.
Mad man Brent Dorrington gave it his all, at times stealing the show with his high-impact wipeouts, but ultimately a third-place finish in the quarterfinals took him out of the event.
For all the licks that he took, Dorrington's performance at the Pipe Pro was notable. A quarterfinal finish at Pipe is by no means something to be taken lightly. The result sets him up for a potentially strong year on the qualifying tour.
For the most part, the Pipe Pro was decided on the left at Pipeline. But with more local knowledge than just about anybody, Mason Ho was able to sneak a few at Backdoor for some big scores.
What is it about guys from Florida and Pipe? Early in the event, Evan Geiselman posted a near-perfect heat score to knock out John John Florence. "It was just one of those heats where everything went my way," said Geiselman.
Both Parker Coffin and his brother Conner made statements at Pipe. Parker was part of that heat with Evan Geiselman that upset John John Florence, while Conner surfed well all the way into the quarterfinals.
John John Florence
Defending Pipe Pro champ John John Florence just couldn't get it going early in the contest.
Riding a bigger board than most surfers in the contest, Mason Ho used every bit of his rail to hold his line at Pipe. It obviously paid off.