The Billabong Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons witnessed heated match-ups as the world’s best surfers fought for strong starts at the final stop on the 2016 Samsung Galaxy World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT). Today saw the completion of Round 1 and the Women’s Pipe Invitational in four-to-five foot (1 – 1.5 metre) conditions at Pipeline.
Newly crowned WSL Champion John John Florence (HAW) confirmed his dominance on the CT with a commanding win against Jadson Andre (BRA) and event wildcard Gavin Beschen (HAW). The Round 1 Heat 6 match-up saw Florence deliver two excellent rides to earn the highest heat score of the Billabong Pipe Masters, a commanding 16.66. The local favorite will skip elimination Round 2 where Andre and Beschen will battle to stay alive in the event.
“There is a really supportive crowd here especially with being home,” said Florence. “It is nice to have all of my family and friends here and I feel comfortable. Jadson [Andre] has been ripping and surfing really well in the past events at Haleiwa and Sunset. He has been fun to watch. Even today it was hard out there and the winner was going to be whoever found those sneaky double-ups. Jadson went off and did an air on that first one and I thought that he would do those the whole heat. It was a little nerve-wracking going up against him, but I was happy to come out on top.”
Gabriel Medina (BRA), 2014 WSL Champion and defending Vans Triple Crown of Surfing winner, put on a show at Pipe in his Round 1 heat against rookie Kanoa Igarashi (USA) and former Pipe Master Bruce Irons (HAW). Medina unleashed big backside hacks at Backdoor to earn a 15.10 combined heat score, leaving Igarashi to chase a 9.43 and Irons to turn in two new scores.
“That was a fun heat,” said Medina. “It is really challenging and tricky out there, but I am stoked to make it through. I got here just before [the Vans World Cup at] Sunset, but it feels like I have been here for two years. I cannot wait to go home after this event and hopefully the waves get better. It would be great to make the Final here at Pipe. I love this wave so it will be good.”
Rookie Alex Ribeiro (BRA) played the spoiler today after defeating defending event winner Adriano de Souza (BRA) and fellow rookie Conner Coffin (USA) in Heat 7. De Souza took control for a majority of the heat with a solid 7.17 but was not able to find the second wave score necessary to fend off Ribeiro, who took the win with two 5-point rides.
“It was pretty hard out there because the waves were not too consistent,” Ribeiro said. “I had a lot to fight through and it was really close at the end. Adriano [de Souza] opened with a 7.17 and only needed a 4.10. When he lost the last opportunity, I got the priority and just held the heat. I am stoked to make my first Round 1 win of the season. Next year I plan to come back stronger and ready to go.”