Jack Robbo Becomes A Man, Wins The Volcom Pipe Pro!
With father Trevor far away in West Oz, the 21-year-old Robbo claims the biggest victory of his career.
The Volcom Pipe Pro wasn’t meant to finish today, but the forecast’s questionable wind pattern pushed contest officials to pull the trigger for a full day of competition.
Thank fucking Jah.
The surfing we saw in the final day of the Volcom Pipe Pro was nothing short of spellbinding.
In Round 5, Hawaiians Sebastian Zietz and Josh Moniz collected 16-point totals en route to victory. These performances were quickly usurped by Jack Robinson’s 19.57, which included a 10-point ride, and Barron Mamiya’s 18.80, which, frankly, was underscored.
While Surfline nerds claimed swell would be dropping throughout the day, the ocean seemingly had other plans. As the quarters and semis progressed, the waves became more and more consistent, with an increase in both size and power. Perhaps the dropping swell period could account for the towering wedges.
Backdoor was the primary option for high-scoring rides, a fact which is no way meant to denigrate the Pipe left. Ever the reliable option for a quick tube (and channel safety to boot!), the left gifted heat wins to several of the day’s top performers, specifically the goofy contingent.
It was Peru’s Miguel Tudela, New York’s Balaram Stack and Australia’s recently unsponsored Reef Heazlewood who met in semifinal number one, alongside the 15-year-old natural-footer Brodi Sale, who has significantly inflated his profile with this surprising result. At the end of 30 minutes it was Bal (the non-comp surfer from New York) and Reef (the soon-to-sponsored Aussie) who ultimately advanced, leaving just two spots to be filled in the event’s final heat.
Semifinal 2, which according to one WSL Facebook commenter should have been the actual final, included the likes of Sebastian Zietz, Cody Young, Jack Robinson, and Barron Mamiya.
To that commenter’s point, Seabass/Cody were on a roll and Jack/Barron were both the qualitative and quantitative best surfers of the event. There'd been multiple excellent heats, remarkable escapes, and soon to be 10-point rides between the two of them.
After watching Robbo own the first part of the heat, local boy Barron decided to assert his local authority. Taking off on the peak of an apexing wedge, Barron’s board fell from lip to flat with plenty of air in between, forcing him to land on his toe rail and quickly tuck beneath the curtain. Somehow maintaining speed from the airdrop, Barron shot through the first section with a massive spit and proceeded to plow through the extendo-lip with power and control.
It was an easy call for the judges. 10s across the board.
And with that, the final had been decided. A freesurfer from New York, a stickerless Aussie, and surfing’s two most talented QS surfers would share a bath at Pipe.
The commentators called for one competitor to nail two 10s in the final.
“I don’t think that’s ever happened at Pipeline before,” Chris Cote noted. “Has anybody ever had a perfect heat at Pipe?”
They proceeded to list all of surfing’s perfect heats that they could remember, including Shane Beschen’s at Kirra, Kelly Slater’s at Cloudbreak and Teahupo’o, and Owen Wright’s at Cloudbreak, but nothing from Pipe.
A few minutes later, Matt Bemrose chimed in.
“Oh, wait boys. Parko’s just texted me saying he had a perfect heat at Backdoor.”
“Ah that’s right!” Cote conceded. “Against Dusty Payne.”
And while it’s completely understandable that Sal, Chris, and Bemmy couldn’t remember that 2008 heat off the tops of their heads, it is equally funny and remarkable that the World Champion and recent retiree, Joel Parkinson, is not only following the Volcom Pipe Pro with a neophyte intensity, but also that he wants the record set straight on his own accord.
The heat started with a paddle battle of Biblical proportions.
One giant teepee saw Bal Stack, Barron Mamiya, and Jack Robbo all fighting for position. While these proprietary squabbles are normal in surfing events, it’s still shocking to see three surfers so completely committed to such a treacherous-looking wave.
At the last second Robbo found himself deepest on the right, forcing local prodigy Barron Mamiya to pull back despite every likelihood of getting pulled over the falls.
Thankfully no such thing happened, as Jack slid past Barron’s wake and up into a multi-section tube for a clean seven-pointer.
Balaram hit back with a tube-and-a-half at Pipe, coming in at 6.7.
The commentators then debated over a tube ride of Barron Mamiya, in which he air-dropped, stalled and emerged from the main section, choosing to jump off his board and escape out the back rather than straightening out and dealing with six feet of whitwater.
So, did he make it or not?
I said yes, Cote said no, and Sal initially said yes, before he was unconvinced by multiple replay angles.
The judges sided with Cote – 2.23 was their ultimate determination.
Brutal, but not a heat-deciding moment. It would have only been a 5 after all. Barron dropped a 7.5 shortly after, putting him right back in contention.
Reef Heazlewood slid into the best Pipe wave of the match, a perfectly-speeded left that concealed his 6’5 for a solid three seconds before allowing a Gums air attempt. The crew deemed it the highest score of the heat, and the only excellent score, coming in at a hard eight.
Robbo was next, again at Backdoor, this time a little steeper and deeper. The way Jack rides the tube, it looks like he couldn’t possibly fall. His positioning and wave knowledge is just too good. He scored a 7.87 for this effortless approach.
With five minutes left, Jack held the lead with two sevens while Barron, Reef, and Bal remained well within striking distance, each holding singular scores in the six, seven, and eight-point range.
...Aaaaand that was it. No more sets came, leaving Balaram, Reef, and Barron twiddling their thumbs out the back, wondering what could have be––...
A small nugget swung under the pack right to Mr. Mamiya. Sticking his arm deep in the wall, Barron disappeared behind multiple sections before jumping out of the lip with a double-grab attempt.
Sadly for BM, the wave was just too small to secure that 7-point-something he needed, making Jack Robinson the 2019 Volcom Pipe Pro Champion.
Following the final, commentators mentioned that Robbo’s dad, Trevor, who has been around for each of Jack’s career highlights, wasn’t on hand to watch this event. Despite having a deep love and appreciation for Trevor’s presence in his life, Jack said that he wanted to “become his own man” this year, which meant competing on his own terms and out from under his father's thumb.
A win at the Volcom Pipe Pro announces the arrival of Jack The Man and a promising 2019 QS campaign to come.
Now, if he can just figure out how to surf a two-foot burger!
Also worth noting: Kalani David, a favorite of Stab's for some time now, took home the Todd Chesser Award, which goes to the surfer who best exemplifies the spirit of the fallen charger. A wholly deserved honor for Kalani.
Jack Robbo, Barron Mamiya, Reef Heazlewood and Kalani David represent surfing's bright, bright future. We couldn't be happier to see them on such clear paths to success.