Is Kelly Slater On His Way To Another Pipe Masters Victory?
Never too early for speculation. Five takeaways from mediocre Banzai.
It wasn’t epic Pipe and Backdoor, and it’s probably not going to be the for rest of the waiting period. So instead of rehashing harrowing rides, the opening day at the Banzai reef was all about plot lines. Here are the key takeaways from an interesting day of competition in subpar North Shore conditions:
1. John John Florence surfs small Backdoor the way we all wish we could. He surfs big Pipe the way we all wish we could too, but his skatepark-honed acumen was on display today. Cruisy cover-ups, casual arcs… it’s not fair. He doesn’t even look like he’s trying—and the sad thing is, he’s probably not. It was just another fun day in his backyard for the world champ.
2. Gabriel Medina will probably win the Pipe Masters. Gabs has been giving the Backdoor/Off The Wall zone a proper going over all season. He’s mapped every burp in the reef. Airs or turns—or air float combos—he made Kanoa Igarashi and Bruce Irons look irrelevant. And with the passion of a scorned lover, he’s god damned determined to win the last event of the year.
3. Kelly Slater can still get scores for floaters. For 25+ years Kelly’s been competing at Pipe and has seen it in all shapes and sizes. So when it came down to manoeuvres today the Floridian couldn’t help himself. On his first wave he threw down the turn of the contest so far. On his second wave he conjured a little of that early ‘90s magic and stuck a stupidly long floater. His equipment still seems a bit too rockered out, but the good news is his knees can hold up to a little ceiling dancing.
4. Steph Gilmore won the women’s Pipe Invitational over dominating world champ Tyler Wright and Carissa Moore. Don’t be surprised if she drops the hammer on the girls next year. Sure, she’s been mired down on single-fins, twinnies and even boogies, but when she gets a proper board under her feet she’s capable of incredible power and grace. While Tyler pushed too hard and Carissa struggled to find rhythm, Steph’s surfing was clean and precise. It was only one heat, but sometimes the taste of blood is all one needs.
5. The boys on the bubble are not going to sleep well. Everybody on the cusp of qualifying for 2017 through the CT, save Jeremy Flores, lost today. In maybe the most psychologically torturous heat of round two, Keanu Asing and Kanoa Igarashi are going to go head to head. Keanu needs to win to stay on tour. Kanoa has already qualified through the QS, but if he can double qualify it means his Quik teammate Zeke Lau gets the call-up. A slew of Brazilians are lurking around the cutoff mark. Jadson Andre (who’s safe on the QS), Miguel Pupo and Wiggolly Dantas are all on the bubble. Nat Young has some work to do if he wants to stay on tour, and he has to go up against Andre. So while a world title doesn’t hang in the balance at the Pipe Masters, some careers certainly do.
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