Introducing The Totally Reimagined 2022 Vans Pipe Masters (With An Emphasis On Giant Airs) - Stab Mag
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Introducing The Totally Reimagined 2022 Vans Pipe Masters (With An Emphasis On Giant Airs)

A vigorous shake of the Banzai tree.

news // Aug 31, 2022
Words by Ethan Davis
Reading Time: 4 minutes

The Vans Pipe Masters is returning this year on December 8-20

Spoiler alert: There are major format changes that should make this the most exciting and innovative Pipe Masters contest model since its inception in 1971.

This year, we’ll see an invite-only, WSL-sanctioned contest, meaning World Tour surfers can surf in the event — however, their Vans Pipe Masters results will not factor into the CT or CS rankings.

The WSL’s Pipe Pro event will run later in Hawaii’s winter season, per the 2023 CT schedule.

Here’s everything you need to know. 

Trevor Moran
Stage = set. Photo by Trevor Moran

‘We want to change the face of surfing Pipeline’ 

This year, Stab partnered with Vans to reimagine the way Pipe is surfed in competition. In the past, Pipe has been all about tube-riding, largely to the exclusion of everything else. With the new Pipe Masters format, surfers will be incentivized to look at Pipeline in a new light, testing what’s possible not just in the tube, but also on the face and above the lip at the world’s deadliest wave.

That is not to say folks will be shying away from Second Reef cathedrals. Rather, they will be equally rewarded for eying up Pipe’s inner ledge and launching above the horizon like Nate Fletcher in 2020, or driving their rail through 10,000 sq. liters of Pacific juice like Tom Carroll in 1991.

On top of increasing entertainment value and expediting surfing’s progression, this could lead to a big change in the type of equipment used at Pipeline, as surfers will be attempting massive airs and turns on waves that would’ve been unthinkable only a decade ago. 

Air sections, anyone? Photo: Arto Saari

Invitees

  • We’re bringing together 60 of the world’s best air and tube surfers (40 men, 20 women) handpicked by the most influential voices in surfing.
  • 50% of the field will consist of local and Hawaiian surfers.
  • All invitees must be 16 and above.
  • You’ll see World Champs, CT surfers, previous Pipe winners, freesurfers, aerialists, and local heroes (we’ll keep you posted).

Format

  • The will be three preliminary rounds — 4-person heats, 30 minutes apiece, no losers (every competitor gets 90 minutes at Pipeline with three other surfers in the water).
  • Each surfer will count their top 3 scores from the preliminary rounds. A surfer’s top three scores can come from one round, all the rounds, or a combination of rounds. 
  • Scoring is done in a leaderboard format, so surfers are competing against everyone in the draw — not just the three other people in their heat
  • Each heat in the preliminary rounds will feature two surfers from Hawaii and two from elsewhere.
  • Heats will be seeded by a panel of Pipeline experts who are not competing in the event. Surfers will be combined into interesting match-ups, which they will remain in throughout all three of the preliminary rounds
  • After all the competitors have surfed in their three preliminary round heats, the top-4 men and top-4 women on the leaderboard (based on their top 3 waves) will advance to their respective finals
  • There is no priority. Should a surfer interfere with or drop in on another surfer, they will lose half of their top wave score. The penalty sticks with a surfer throughout the event, even if they get their best wave before or after the interference is called. Ie: Their top scoring ride at any point of the competition will be halved from the moment the interference is applied.

Prize Money

  • The event winners will take home $100K with men and women getting equal prize money.
  • $420,000 will be splashed across the event in potential earnings, not including the $20K OTL Awards or trophies.

Prize Money Breakdown 

Prize money is the same across the Men and Women’s divisions:

  1. $100,000 
  2. $60,000
  3. $35,000
  4. $15,000
Blink and you still won’t miss it. Photo: Arto Saari

How To Watch

In case it’s not already clear, the event will be hard to miss. You’ll be able to watch the live action and more at VansPipeMasters.comStabmag.com, YouTube, and a variety of other channels. Keep an eye out for more Vans Pipe Masters coming between now and the event on Stab.

For more information, head to VansPipeMasters.com and check back Thursday, October 6th, for the first episode of the Vans Pipe Masters Pre-Show.

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