Leo Tames The Mongrel, Slater Rides A Twinny, And The Women Are Going To Pipe(?)
Pipe Masters Day 1, a report.
After the classic Pipe showdown of yesterday’s invitational, today was always going to feel like a hangover.
None felt the gut-wrench more than Mikey ‘Mongrel’ Wright, who after going with 1-1 with Leo Fioravanti yesterday, lost the best-of-three surf-off and his spot on the 2021 Championship Tour this morning.
Their heat started with Hawaii’s typical morning sea texture: oily on the surface with a slight bump beneath. Most waves had an unfavorable warble, but those with enough size and period overrode the lumps by drawing water off the reef. Leo found the only wave that met these criteria, locking in an 8.5 for the effort.
Mikey needed a six-something to make a comeback, toward which end he found a suitable Pipe corner. After traversing several difficult sections, the warble became too much for Wright and he was unfooted. Mikey’s consequent water slap was telling—not just of the Australian’s frustration, but of a foreboding change in the wind. The spray carried west!
The remainder of the heat was plagued by Hawaii’s infamous Kona winds, which unless you’re John John Florence, ruin just about all surfing plans on the North Shore.
As a result of the onshore, no more tubes were made, and Leo earned the official 2021 season wildcard. Mikey did all he could to fight off Leo’s post-loss bro-hug, but the Italian seduced his way into the Mogrel’s embrace, as he simultaneously sent him packing to the QS.
Or more immediately, the Pipe Masters main event.
The first couple heats were write-offs on account of the howling onshores, with Kanoa and Yago taking arbitrary yet meaningful victories. Then came an applaudable decision to hold the event for an hour, which allowed the offending rain squall to pass and trade winds to prevail.
It also gave us time to pick up on a steaming-hot rumor.
Following yesterday’s shark attack at Honolua (UPDATE: the victim is currently in the ICU in stable condition, doctors are hopeful that he’ll recover), the WSL had to make a decision about the remainder of the women’s event. Would they run it at all, and if so, where?
A couple hours ago, the WSL dropped this sizzling number on their IG:
Stab has heard whispers that the event’s remaining four heats will be heading to Pipeline. The WSL is reportedly waiting for final approval, but the decision is more or less set.
…Which is fucking radical. And potentially huge for women’s surfing.
For those whose memory has lapsed, the surfers remaining in the event include:
Quarterfinal 4: Tatiana Weston Webb vs. Sage Erickson
Semi 1: Tyler Wright vs. Sally Fitz
Semi 2: Carissa Moore vs. TBD
At Honolua it seemed like Tyler’s or Carissa’s to lose, but Pipe brings Tati well and truly into the mix. She is not scared.
If the permits allow, it’s looking like a Sunday or Monday finish for the women.
Finally, the ocean began to smooth and heats resumed. Filipe and Jordy won theirs by way of experience and Medina squeaked (and I mean squeaked) past Adriano de Souza, both losing to Pipe invitational winner Josh Moniz.
Italo went full-send on a Backdoor end section, hucking himself with the utmost conviction over approximately 13.5 inches of water. He fell but apparently missed the reef and proceeded to inch his way past Matt McGillivray, who’s back in my good graces after a 10-meter floater at Backdoor.
John Florence waltzed through his round one match (it almost looks like he grew up there!) in an effortless fashion. John’s comfort level was so high he even tried a Brazil-esque flip on his way in. Luckily his knee held, but I’m not so sure if John’s bottom will withstand a Ross Williams spanking. What did I tell you about airs?!
As alluded to in our recent Stab CUSP ep, neither Ace Buchan nor Owen Wright made the Hawaiian pilgrimage this winter, both choosing to put family over career. You can’t really fault them—three months away from your partner and kids is the recipe for a deflated soul, if not divorce.
However, it is interesting to compare these Australian family men to certain unwed Brazilians. If you’ve been following the socials, you’d know that both Peterson Crisanto and Yago Dora went through hell trying to get to Hawaii. Peterson’s visa lagged for months, forcing him to jump through dozens of bureaucratic hoops before receiving a green light at the very last moment. Yago, on the other hand, had his papers in order but failed a covid test while en route, forcing him to quarantine in a Texas hotel for 10 days before finally getting cleared to fly. He landed in Hawaii just last night.
Clearly, these two sets of surfers are in vastly different phases of their careers, not to mention personal lives. But it’s still fascinating to see the difference in dedication between the veteran Aussies and sophomore Brazilians.
Then there’s Kelly Slater—the 48-year-old, three-decades-on-Tour, 11-time-World-Champ. After a pandemic spent frolicking throughout Australia and Indo, Kelly arrived in Hawaii and paddled out to his first heat on a twin fin. He then proceeded to school two Aussies half his age in an effortless victory.
I went to dinner after that because I figured it was the last important storyline of the day.
Was I wrong?
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