Jack Robbo Shines, The Rest Of The Field Hobbles Through A Subdued Yet Exciting Return To Pipe
John John and Jack Freestone excluded**
Serving mostly average heat scores, the Pipe Masters has returned in what was a surprisingly entertaining day of competition.
The morning got off to a non-starter as Miguel Tudela had to pull out of the event after finding himself in a particularly hairy situation this past Sunday. After taking off on a Pipe closeout, Miguel got stuck in one of the infamous ‘caves’ that line the reef. Desperate for air, Miguel broke 4 of his ribs in the process of clawing himself free. A truly unfortunate circumstance for a Pipe specialist with their first seed in the event, we’re just glad to hear Miguel is okay. This incident serves as a reminder of why this wave is fucking scary, no matter the size.
The Elimination Round finished off with Conner Coffin making an unfortunate priority blunder against Peterson Crisanto and former Pipe Master A.D.S. falling out of the event. With this being Adriano’s official last year on tour, we’re sure he would have like to have at least done something at the wave that once made him World Champ.
Speaking of the elimination round, this appears to be the second time that the WSL has seeded the second place surfer in the last heat of the elimination round directly into the first heat of the following round. Sage Erickson nearly missed her heat in Maui as a result of this, and today Leo Fiorvanti surfed directly from one heat into the next. I don’t make the rules, but it seems as if this heat cadence creates a highly specific strain on one competitor in the context of the field, or at least I thought…
If Leo’s endurance was running low, you certainly couldn’t tell. With the weight of qualification lifted from his shoulders, Leo’s looked downright deadly. Maybe it’s the fact that he’s surfed four more heats (3 vs Mikey Wright + 1 Elimination heat) than most other surfers in field and thus has some confidence rolling, or maybe he’s just had easy draws. No matter how you slice it, the Italian coasted past Filipe Toledo and Peterson Crisanto straight into quarterfinal one against John Florence.
That one, certainly, will be no walkthrough.
Moving into the Round of 32, many cliches were thrown around to describe the conditions. While the WSL’s broadcast team lovingly droned on about ‘10s and 2s’, the reality is that today was a full-on grind fest, with most heats being won with a combination of fours and fives.
That is unless you’re Jack Robinson.
We have been waiting (and waiting and waiting) for Jack to turn in his first searing hot WCT heat total. Today he cashed in an 8.5 and 9.23 against a slightly downtrodden Julian Wilson for a combined 17.73—easily the highest of the day. Despite a sore hammy, Jules’ relatively pedestrian 10.27 would have been enough to get him through most heats today.
As our Mikey Ciaramella pointed out in his latest Stab CUSP episode, it would be criminal for Jack Robinson to leave Hawaii anywhere outside of the top three. By the way he’s going, it appears that won’t be a problem.
There were more upsets today, with Kolohe Andino and Filipe Toledo also losing out in the Round of 32. While these Title contenders surely had higher aspirations for Pipe, Fil and Kolohe have to feel good about this year’s schedule. With the Tour flipped on its head, it’s much easier to justify an early loss at Pipe knowing they’re headed to Lower’s come September*…
No upset was more shocking than that of the Bong boys. Despite his Houdini-esque antics at Backdoor over the past 10 days, Griffin was unable to best Peterson Crisanto, who himself surfed through the Elimination round before tagging Griffin, proving that rhythm was as important as skill in today’s challenging conditions. Ethan Ewing went down to Kelly Slater, which couldn’t so much be called an upset, though it’s certainly upsetting for the nation of Australia. Then there’s Seth and Josh Moniz, the local heroes whom the broadcast team has not let us forget are the “eleventh set of brothers to compete in the Pipe Masters’—both lost in uninspiring fashion today. The road doesn’t get easier for the event’s main sponsor, as they’ll lose another team member in the upcoming Italo vs. R.Cal matchup.
Outside of Jack’s sensational performance against Julian, the rest of the day’s top waves came via John Florence and Jack Freestone in a game of inches at Backdoor. Both pushed through ridiculous foamballs to emerge, with Jack claiming 10 upon exit (only to receive an 8.83). In a move we’d normally chastise, we’ll give Jack a freebie as a result of his taming the bull and providing a spark of excitement in what was otherwise a slightly underwhelming viewer experience. After a saucy exchange with Slater in the comments of an IG post this week, Jack seems to be running red-hot at the moment, which is something we hope he can continue translating into results.
And what’s to come? With a draw that still contains Gabe, John, Kelly, and Jack Robbo, and swell for either tomorrow or Sunday, we’re sure to see more action in the back half of this event than in the start, and that is something to be truly excited about.
Oh, and I almost forgot about this guy, who seems to be carrying the Big Dick Energy of a thoroughbred Clydesdale at the moment. No one should underestimate Italo as we head into conditions that could very well resemble those he won in just a year ago.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s call on what could be Finals day, as well as the Women’s first go in a CT final at Pipe. Yippee!
*Yes, we know Kolohe has an abysmal track record at Lowers CT events. But surely you haven’t forgotten his Surf100 win!
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