John Plays, Julian Interferes And Gabs Makes Things Harder For Himself - Stab Mag

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John Plays, Julian Interferes And Gabs Makes Things Harder For Himself

Day one observations from the sand.

news // Dec 12, 2017
Words by Mike Ciaramella
Reading Time: 5 minutes

I missed the first few heats of the Pipe Masters. Log cabins looked fun and I hadn’t had a good session this entire trip so I treated myself. Ended up getting throttled on one and thought “Yeah, maybe I should stick to my day job.”

God damn that Hawaiian sand is a workout. I walked the beach from Rockpiles to Off The Wall and my glutes were enraged by the end of it. Maybe that’s why the women here have such shapely behinds. I can say it’s definitely not just an Instagram filter, as my girlfriend so often drills into me.

Having no cell service over here (thanks T-Mobile!), I was torn between walking allllll the way down to the WSL tents to learn about the earlier results, or finding someone who could just tell me about them. I scanned the beach for familiar faces until a guy with long, Eagles-adorned camera lens yelled at me “Down in front!”

Hey Tallteef!

The Pennsylvania-based photographer, known also as Trevor Moran, started shooting his brothers and friends in New Jersey when I was a kid. Now he’s one of the most recognizable names in the world of Surf photography. Luckily tallteef remembers the little people.

I sat next to Trevor and watched John thread tube after tube. Big ones, small ones, it didn’t matter — John was beyond comfortable at less than ideal backdoor. Made it seem like a playful beach break. 

I asked Trevor what had happened in the earlier heats.

“Well, Julian got two sick ones but lost with an interference,” he replied. “Miggy got a 9.93 and couldn’t back it up until the last 15 seconds, but he ended up beating Medina with a 2 at the end. I think Owen lost, maybe Wilkinson too. I don’t really know though, I can’t hear the speakers all the way down here.”

And you really can’t. Not a lick. Which makes the competition much more interesting in my opinion. The total disconnect from audio and visual scoring allowed me to appreciate rides for their entertainment and beauty, as opposed to thinking about them in terms of a number. And man, all competition aside, these guys can fucking surf. 

Throughout the day I jotted down my perceived heat winners, which I would check against the WSL scoring once back in WiFi range. I still haven’t found WiFi (this was sent by carrier pigeon to our Aussie cohorts, who graciously uploaded) so I have honestly no idea how I did. 

Heat 6: John 

As the waves started to improve, Trevor chose to leave me for a better angle down the beach. Fair enough, he’s a photographer, that’s how he gets his bread. Ultimately this left me alone, on the sand, which an increasingly hot sun bearing down on my back. I needed some lotion.

Heat 7: Caio

Luckily, the couple next to me had an industrial-sized jug of the stuff. Like a genuine stand-alone litre of sunscreen, complete with a handle and push-dispenser, similar to what I’d imagine Alabanians would use for mayonnaise. I felt not a twinge of guilt asking them to “borrow” some.

The couple obliged and even agreed to help me lather that can’t-reach-zone in the upper middle back. Real nice folk.

I learned that the guy, also named Michael, was on holiday with his girlfriend Samantha and they came from Australia. This was their first time to the North Shore, and they said they knew nothing about surfing but were keen to witness the spectacle of the Pipeline Masters.

But man, they really didn’t know anything about surfing.

For the next half hour they politely grilled me on the nuances of the sport. “Are these waves strong?” “Are they supposed to go in the curl?” “Kelly? A girl?”

And no, I didn’t just throw that last one in as some cliche surf joke. Samantha genuinely thought our GOAT was a girl. Which, would that make him a SHEEP? My livestock knowledge is a little rusty but something tells me Kelly would hate being called a SHEEP.

But I really enjoyed sharing my surfing expertise with these newbies. Partly because it made me feel smart, and partly because it made me think of surfing from another perspective. A more logical perspective.

For example, I tried to explain that Pipeline and Backdoor are technically the same surf spot, but they’re differentiated in regards to direction. Then I had to explain that when you watch a wave breaking to the right, that’s actually a left, and when you watch a wave breaking to the left, that’s a right. All of which left Samantha totally confused.

“So… thats a Pipeline?” she inquired, pointing to an Off The Wall left.

“No, no, no! Not every left is called a Pipeline. Only lefts that break on that part of the reef is considered a Pipeline. I mean Pipeline,” I said, pointing toward the competitors. “Oh and, whether you go right or left at Off The Wall, it’s still just called Off The Wall.”


It’s not her fault she didn’t get it. All of the rules and terminology surfers have built over the years are so damn silly. Illogical and silly. Speaking with Mike and Samantha reminded me how ridiculous this sport really is, and for that I’m grateful.

Heat 8: Slater

Right after Slater’s heat the wind started puffing onshore and a gray cloud loomed overhead. This led Mike and Samantha to flee, and as soon as they left I started typing this story into my phone. At one point I looked up to see Zeke Lau on a fun Backdoor runner, followed by Michel Bourez breaking his board. I kept writing.

Heat 9: Zeke Lau

A few minutes later, I looked up to see Leo Fioravanti surfing jersey-less on a shitty wave at Pipe Rights (that’s what I’m calling Backdoor now), which led me to realize the event was off for the day. The wind had blown the door shut and there was nothing else the WSL could do.

With plenty of heats left to run in the event, KP and crew will have to get creative with the remainder of the waiting period. It looks like Sunday and Monday of next week have potential, but beyond that it’s a crap shoot.

Oh and should Gab and jules lose in round 2, only Jordy can steal Johns title, which, he won’t.

Billabong Pipe Masters Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 10.17, Jadson Andre (BRA) 6.33, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 4.67
Heat 2: Josh Kerr (AUS) 12.17, Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 6.10, Owen Wright (AUS) 3.37
Heat 3: Conner Coffin (USA) 10.56, Julian Wilson (AUS) 6.57, Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 1.50
Heat 4: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 16.57, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 11.43, Ethan Ewing (AUS) 3.00
Heat 5: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 14.83, Benji Brand (HAW) 12.64 Gabriel Medina (BRA) 12.43
Heat 6: John John Florence (HAW) 13.50, Dusty Payne (HAW) 6.83, Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 5.63
Heat 7: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 12.83, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 11.27, Jack Freestone (AUS) 7.04
Heat 8: Kelly Slater (USA) 12.47, Joan Duru (FRA) 11.90, Kolohe Andino (USA) 7.60
Heat 9: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 10.50, Filipe Toledo (BRA) 2.00, Michel Bourez (PYF) 2.00

Billabong Pipe Masters Remaining Round 1 Match-Ups:
Heat 10: Sebastian Zietz (HAW), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Ian Gouveia (BRA)
Heat 11: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Connor O’Leary (AUS), Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA)
Heat 12: Mick Fanning (AUS), Frederico Morais (PRT), Italo Ferreira (BRA)


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