Stab’s picks for the 2015 Billabong Pipe Masters
Words by Damien Fahrenfort | All photos WSL/Kelly Cestari With a healthy forecast on the books for the Pipe Masters, this World Title race is going to get saucy. While Mick Fanning is the most prepped, there’s no denying Gabriel Medina’s skill in the tube. Things could go horribly wrong thanks to a few wildcards […]
Words by Damien Fahrenfort | All photos WSL/Kelly Cestari
With a healthy forecast on the books for the Pipe Masters, this World Title race is going to get saucy. While Mick Fanning is the most prepped, there’s no denying Gabriel Medina’s skill in the tube. Things could go horribly wrong thanks to a few wildcards and if Filipe Toledo sucks it up and makes the third round, he’ll be in the driver’s seat. All scenarios turn out good for us, the viewer, and after Evan G’s near-death experience and a solid forecast, I’m sure there will be some nervous competitors. Good luck, gents.
It’d be rude not to include this young man in a list of Pipe Masters threats, no?
John John Florence
This is an easy pick, but a Pipe Masters win has been eluding this man for some time. He’s had a reasonable year on tour (by Bede’s standards) but now that the film is done and he’s got that out of his life, he can focus on this contest. A Kelly Slater vs John John final where John wins would be the ultimate goal, but let’s not get our hopes up. Either way, watching this gent out there will be a pleasure.
Gabriel has the confidence to step up when he needs to. Few others on the tour have self belief – often confused with cockiness (and sometimes correctly) – like this kid.
I know, I know. Why him over Mick? Well, last year the Pipe Masters was Gabs’ and he gave it to Jules. It’s one event that if he won, not one person out there would be able to deny his tube skills any longer. He knows this and to get a Brazilian person’s name on that trophy would further solidify his position with the supermodels of Brazil. Gabs is an incredible tuberider and he possesses this gift to believe he can do anything in the water. He watches surfers that he feels are inferior to him charge and he thinks, if they can, I can, and I believe this is what makes him such a lord in the heavy conditions.
After Mick Fanning winning the world title, the biggest fairytale ending to this year would be Kelly winning the event and retiring from professional surfing. Don’t hold your breath, though.
This could be one and done for Kelly. Big talks of retirement are on the board and he’s beginning to figure out a 12th world title might be out of reach, or nearly impossible. His surfing is still there but age can be a bastard. A whole year uninjured is unlikely. Anyway, he’s the greatest of all time at the Banzai and it’s been two years since he’s won an event now. I’d love to see Kelly put on a clinic one more time and retire this year. Watching him lose to Frederico Morais and others ain’t easy. I hope he rides a slightly longer board like he did two years ago against John. It looks so much better and shows he’s real hungry for a win.
Fact: John John Florence and Jamie O’Brien feature in more photos from Pipeline each year than anyone else in the world. So, here’s a photo of Jamie sitting in the line up. Isn’t it nice?
This is all dependent on Jamie winning the trials, even though at this point he should just be the WSL wildcard every year. Because what’s a Pipe Masters without Jamie? The powers-that-be also know the world title race needs this gent to keep it exciting. Jamie is horny for a win and if you go by the person that spends the most time out there, he’s the deserving champ.
What an event the 2013 Pipe Masters was. Look at this fucking wave! Jeremy, always danger at da Banzai.
A past champ here and has more confidence than Floyd Mayweather. He’s a machine in the barrel and having the year of his life. Not sure how his melon is these days but I’d love to see him compete with a Gath Hat like he did at Chopes. Maybe it’s his good luck charm. Either way, Jeremy has the Wardo approach at Pipe. They get busy and make shit happen. In the heats where there’s no priority they have the ability to find an 8 or higher score, so when their priority kicks in they can sit and wait for the bomb. Mr Flores is as capable as anyone out there.
Michel didn’t choose the dark horse life; The dark horse life chose him.
I’ve got a feeling that Michel is going to pull through here. His wildcard for next year isn’t a guarantee and Jordy Smith and Matt Banting missed more events than him. I think that at this event, it could all come together and things could take shape. He’s got his back against the ropes, out of the qualification bubble, and doesn’t mind going balls to the wall. His only challenge will be not taking off on stupid waves, being patient and not going too hard. We’ll be cheering for you sir.
Maybe not a winner, but certainly a spoiler. Seabass.
Look out for guys on the bubble. Sebastian Zietz and Dusty Payne are good ones. Seabass only needs a mediocre result and Dusty needs Kolohe Andino or Miguel Pupo to qualify through the World Tour and free up their QS qualification spot, but both Bass and Dusty have BMT when it comes to Pipe. They expect themselves to smash guys out there and they have no problem trusting in the Banzai. Both have had pivotal moments in their careers here and I think they plan on going really hard to prove a point for their lacklustre years.
Pipe Trials Round 1 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Jack Freestone (AUS), Sunny Garcia (HAW), Griffin Colapinto (USA), Nathan Fletcher (USA)
Heat 2: Mason Ho (HAW), Dane Reynolds (USA), Gavin Gillette (HAW), Makai McNamara (HAW)
Heat 3: Ian Walsh (HAW), Joel Centeio (HAW), Kaimana Jaquias (HAW), Mikey Bruneau (HAW)
Heat 4: Jack Robinson (AUS), Kalani David (HAW), Hank Gaskell (HAW), Isaiah Moniz (HAW)
Heat 5: Ezekiel Lau (HAW), Seth Moniz (HAW), Alex Smith (HAW), Nathan Florence (HAW)
Heat 6: Josh Moniz (HAW), Kiron Jabour (HAW), Jamie O’Brien (HAW), Myles Padaca (HAW)
Heat 7: Granger Larsen (HAW), Kaito Kino (HAW), Kekoa Cazimero (HAW), Evan Valiere (HAW)
Heat 8: Tanner Hendrickson (HAW), Billy Kemper (HAW), Olamana Eleogram (HAW), Luke Shepardson (HAW)
Billabong Pipe Masters Round 1 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Italo Ferreira (BRA), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Glenn Hall (IRL)
Heat 2: Owen Wright (AUS), Jadson Andre (BRA), Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 3: Gabriel Medina (BRA), Keanu Asing (HAW), TBD
Heat 4: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Michel Bourez (PYF), TBD
Heat 5: Filipe Toledo (BRA), Kolohe Andino (USA), TBD
Heat 6: Mick Fanning (AUS), Sebastian Zietz (HAW), TBD
Heat 7: Julian Wilson (AUS), Kai Otton (AUS), Ricardo Christie (NZL)
Heat 8: Jeremy Flores (FRA), Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Jordy Smith (ZAF)
Heat 9: Kelly Slater (USA), Taj Burrow (AUS), C.J. Hobgood (USA)
Heat 10: Nat Young (USA), John John Florence (HAW), Brett Simpson (USA)
Heat 11: Bede Durbidge (AUS), Wiggolly Dantas (BRA), Adam Melling (AUS)
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