Stab Magazine | Breaking: Kelly Slater And John Florence To Surf In 2018 Pipe Masters
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Breaking: Kelly Slater And John Florence To Surf In 2018 Pipe Masters

Title contenders quiver in fear!

news // Oct 31, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Pro surf fans rejoice, it’s Christmas in October!

As revealed by the WSL today, both Kelly Slater and John Florence will compete in the 2018 Pipeline Masters.

Oh yeah, and Caio Ibelli too. 

Plagued by leg-and-foot related injuries, the deistic tuberiding duo (and Caio) have missed the majority of the season but will return for their favorite event. 

Slater returning to surf Pipe should be a surprise to no one. After breaking his foot in July of 2017, Slater managed to surf (only) the Pipeline Masters of that same year before taking another long competitive reprieve (though he continued to surf non-competitively) until the middle of the following year.

His next event was this July at J-Bay – location of the initial incident – where he lost early and revealed that he maybe wasn’t quite ready to compete just yet. Slater then skipped Teahupo’o but was ready to surf his “home event” at Lemoore in September, where he finished 3rd. 

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Foot’s lookin’ reaaaal tender. Photo: WSL

Slater then forwent both competitions of the European leg, before which Stab boldly proclaimed: “Despite the toe-curling turn he pulled on the Ranch’s end section (see above), Slater has deemed his injury too severe to compete in France, and likely Portugal, before his inevitable return at Pipeline.”

Despite our prophetic cynicism, we couldn’t be happier to see Slater in the Masters. At the age of 46, Slater, a seven-times Pipe Masters champ, remains one of the top hole-hiders on our rotating sphere. But beyond the sheer brilliance of his abilities, Slater’s injury-related seed – which is quite low – means there’s a good chance he’ll come up against a Title contender early in the event.

The same is true, in fact even more true, of John Florence.

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Pipe ain’t all death pits. Photo: WSL

Sitting at number 33 on the rankings, Florence, who’s been out for several months after an air-gone-wrong in Bali, is almost guaranteed to match up against Medina, Wilson, or Toledo between Rounds two and three. 

John has said that he won’t come back to surfing until he’s 100% confident in his knee – he wants to be able to pack tubes and stomp airs with confidence. As far as Stab knows, John has yet to surf since he was injured back in May, but he’s been keeping strong with rehab and the odd 32-mile paddle from Molokai to Oahu (an international paddle event in which, despite minimal training, John placed second). 

Florence’s confidence to commit to Pipeline gives us an overwhelming sense of glee. As the best Pipeline surfer to never win a Masters, John will be a bull in the Title dreams’ china shop – the only question is who will survive his brutal rampage?

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Poor fellas. Photo: WSL

Lest we forget Caio Ibelli.

The Brazilian broke his foot while practicing adjacent to the event in WA, which has left him sidelined for the remainder of the season. This is especially unfortunate in 2018, when two of surfing’s greatest were also hurt, meaning Caio’s chances of securing one of next season’s two Injury Wildcard slots is effectivelly zero. 

Despite his dire requalification situation, Caio should look at the Pipe Masters as an opportunity to make a name for himself. Surfing Pipe with just three guys in the water is a special kind of privilege, and one that should be appreciated and seized. 

Plus the kid can ride a tube.

Here’s the first round match-ups, sans the two local wildcards:

Heat 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Frederico Morais (PRT), Kelly Slater (USA)
Heat 2: Owen Wright (AUS), Yago Dora (BRA), Miguel Pupo (BRA)
Heat 3: Italo Ferreira (BRA), Joan Duru (FRA), Keanu Asing (HAW)
Heat 4: Filipe Toledo (BRA), Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Caio Ibelli (BRA)
Heat 5: Julian Wilson (AUS), Tomas Hermes (BRA), Wildcard
Heat 6: Gabriel Medina (BRA), Connor O’Leary (AUS), Wildcard
Heat 7: Wade Carmichael (AUS), Griffin Colapinto (USA), John John Florence (HAW)
Heat 8: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN), Sebastian Zietz (HAW), Michael February (ZAF)
Heat 9: Michel Bourez (PYF), Ezekiel Lau (HAW), Ian Gouveia (BRA)
Heat 10: Conner Coffin (USA), Jeremy Flores (FRA), Jesse Mendes (BRA)
Heat 11: Kolohe Andino (USA), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Joel Parkinson (AUS)
Heat 12: Willian Cardoso (BRA), Michael Rodrigues (BRA), Patrick Gudauskas (USA)

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