Stab Magazine | Kelly Slater won The Volcom Pro at perfect Pipe today
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Kelly Slater won The Volcom Pro at perfect Pipe today

Words by Jed Smith | All Photos: WSL Kelly Is Still The King At PipeSay what you will about his patchy form on Tour but Kelly is still the King at Pipe, and he proved it today against one of the most stacked fields of Pipe specialists imaginable. In a final featuring the all-Hawaiian trio […]

news // Mar 8, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Words by Jed Smith | All Photos: WSL

Kelly Is Still The King At Pipe
Say what you will about his patchy form on Tour but Kelly is still the King at Pipe, and he proved it today against one of the most stacked fields of Pipe specialists imaginable. In a final featuring the all-Hawaiian trio of Jamie O’Brien, Bruce Irons and young buck, Makai McNamara (whose father, Liam, Kelly surfed against in an event here in 1992), the champ was untouchable. He owned three of the four highest heat totals of the day (John Florence took out top honours with an 18.5 out of 20), and was nothing short of sublime in what many are calling the biggest and best Pipe ever seen for a contest.

“The waves were just flawless, that’s what you grow up dreaming of when you’re a kid,” said Kelly. “To have these kind of waves we were all just hoping to get through heats to surf the waves again.”

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Makai, dragging.

Are you fucking kidding me, Makai McNamara?!
Victory might have gone to the The King but the surfing world walks away with another name front of consciousness today. It belongs to local grom Makai McNamara (son of Pipe legend, Liam). He went for broke today with one of the better waves ever ridden in a Pipe contest. When a 12-foot, straight-west dagger steamed in at first reef, Makai was always going. A short time earlier he’d fallen victim to a priority tussle, coughing up an interference call to Dusty Payne (if you wanna see something nuts watch the first wave of their semi final where you’ll see two men doing the tango on 10-footer). It looked like the form run of the event had been knifed, and then it happened. He dropped down the face like a poison arrow, sticking the drop with rage, and holding on for the blow out. He capped the ride with a classic Hawaiian ‘fuck you’ to the judges a la Johnny Boy Gomes/Sunny Garcia/Shawn Briley and was rewarded with a perfect 10. The score elevating above Dusty and Jamie O’Brien to first place and a remarkable heat win.

There’s Only One Way To Lose A Heat At Pipe…
And it’s to go over the falls headfirst on the heaviest wave you can find. The tradition has roots dating back to Joel Parkinson and his 2009 human shuttlecock on an eight footer after losing to local tube whisperer, Gavin Gilette, in the process coughing up a title to Mick Fanning. John John honoured the tradition with a face first buzzer beater on an eight foot double up in the quarters. Makai McNamara opened the final with one of the worst Backdoor beatings seen in a while before bookending the loss with another headfirst pin drop. True showmen.

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Next Level Pipe Footage and Analysis
If you like big blue slabs blowing their guts out, and we most surely do here at Stab HQ, this was the event for you. Shyeah, it was fucking cooking – eight-to-12 feet of west swell, straight offshore, with barely a drop out of place. There were “best evers” dropping everywhere, and Volcom, who owns two cribs overlooking the wave, rose to the task. They know the ins and out of this lineup better than any team on the planet and accordingly they threw down some of the best event coverage yet, offering up drone footage, up and down the beach angles, and giving us such insight in the barrel analysis as this, from Jamie O’Brien following his 10:
“That wave came and I thought I was too deep, as I got to the bottom I leant over my front foot and pivoted off my front foot and dug my rail in as hard I could possibly. I thought, argh, I was too deep, and then it threw over me and started spitting, and I came out.”
…this from Kelly Slater: “When Pipe breaks and the barrel opens like that it pulls the air back in. The spit went backwards into my face. My lips are still tingling and that was 20 minutes ago. It’s ridiculous out there. I can’t get enough of it.”
And this from Dave Wassel: “Most waves are capable of spitting, Pipeline barfs. That wave just vomited out the end of it.”

Marco Giorgi, holding on.

Marco Giorgi, holding on.

Uruguay, Argentina and St Barthelemy?
Surfing’s satellite nations were out in force on the final day. Marco Gorgio did the little known surfing nation of Uruguay proud, stuffing multiple Pipe and Backdoor bombs. Dimitry Ouvre, from the obscure island of St Barthelemy (somewhere in the Carribean) condemned Pipe specialist and former CT’er Sebastian Zietz to a fourth round exit, before bowing out in the quarters. And Argentina’s Leandro Usuna will have something to tell the grandkids after finding himself in some of the best Pipe ever with three other men.

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Should The Volcom Pipe Pro Be Upgraded To A ‘QS 10 000?
Given what we watched today, you’d probably say yes. But then, from a surf fan’s perspective what could be better than watching a field of Pipe specialists, like Bruce Irons, JOB, JJF and Slater, among others, duke it out with lesser known chargers like the 43 year old Kamikaze cult-hero, Takuya Wakita, and Aussie mini rocket, Jack Robinson? The Volcom Pipe Pro is a celebration of underground surfing and as such should be protected. Because there ain’t a lot of that going down anymore.

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