PIPELINE, Oahu/Hawaii (Friday, December 11, 2009) – Competitors reveled in the gently groomed four-to-six foot (1.5 – 2 metre) barrels of the Banzai Pipeline today as the remaining nine Round 2 heats of the Billabong Pipe Masters were completed before competition was called off for the day.
Event No. 10 of 10 on the 2009 ASP World Tour, the Billabong Pipe Masters marks the third and final stop of the Vans Triple Crown (an ASP Specialty Series) and the Hawaiians ruled the day’s proceedings, taking six wins in nine heats.
John John Florence (HAW), 16, wildcard and youngest the competitor in the Billabong Pipe Masters, was dominant once again today, effortlessly threading both the Backdoor rights and the Pipeline lefts with pancahe and aplomb to net the day’s highest heat total, an 18.90 out of a possible 20, to eliminate ASP World No. 27, Heitor Alves (BRA), 27.
“I’m just going crazy out there with only three people out,” Florence said. “There are so many fun waves and I was just trying to catch as many as I could while I had the chance. It’s good to know the lineup out here when it’s smaller because a lot of times they run along the reef faster and those right barrels get really small and can be tough to make it out of.”
Florence will take on Bobby Martinez (USA), 27, in Round 3 when the Billabong Pipe Masters resumes.
Andy Irons (HAW), 31, former three-time ASP World Champion and former four-time Pipe Masters Champion, continued his blitzkrieg on the competitive field this afternoon, navigating his way through several Backdoor pits to dispatch Drew Courtney (AUS), 30, in the final heat of the day.
“I’m having a lot of fun in the event,” Irons said. “The waves have been really good the past two days and they look like they’re going to be getting really good tomorrow. I’m really enjoying putting the jersey on again and am excited to get a result here before I start back full-time in 2010.”
Irons faces Damien Hobgood (USA), 30, in the upcoming Round 3 when the Billabong Pipe Masters resumes.
Chris Ward (USA), 31, current ASP World No. 37 and last year’s event Runner-Up, is in need of a solid result to vault himself into the qualification cutoff for the 2010 ASP Dream Tour, but if today’s inspired approach in the lethal Backdoor barrels was any indication, the combustible Californian knows what it takes to win at the Pipeline.
“It’s going to take good barrel riding and charging because the waves are going to get good here over the next couple of days and I’m really looking forward to it,” Ward said. “I’m looking forward to some big barrels. Finishing runner-up to Kelly (Slater) last year was pretty rad. I would have loved to win the Pipe Masters and the Triple Crown, but this year’s a new year and I’d love to win the Pipe Masters.”
Ward will battle Fredrick Patacchia (HAW), 27, in Round 3 of the Billabong Pipe Masters.
Dean Morrison (AUS), 28, current ASP World No. 17, put in a juggernaut performance in the early proceedings today, showing an uncanny rapport with the Backdoor righthanders.
“Backdoor is one of my favorite waves,” Morrison said. “I look forward to it all year and I spend another six weeks here just to try and get my barrels. I love it. Spending time here, for myself, it makes me a little more comfortable out there and it’s nice when you’re competing – it’s nice to know a break.”
Surfline, official forecasters for the Billabong Pipe Masters, are calling for a prime 10-to-12 foot (3-4 metre) swell to build for tomorrow.
Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow morning at 6:30am to assess conditions for a possible 8am start.
When competition resumes, up first will be current ASP World No. 27, Adrian Buchan (AUS), 27, up against fellow ASP Dream Tour competitor Dean Morrison (AUS), 28, in Heat 1 of Round 3.
The Billabong Pipe Masters will be webcast LIVE via www.billabongpro.com and www.triplecrownofsurfing.com
For more information, log onto www.aspworldtour.com
REMAINING BILLABONG PIPE MASTERS ROUND 2 RESULTS:
Heat 8: Torrey Meister (HAW) 14.83 def. Kai Otton (AUS) 14.00
Heat 9: Dean Morrison (AUS) 16.93 def. Sion Milosky (HAW) 8.37
Heat 10: Chris Ward (USA) 15.50 def. Aritz Aranburu (EUK) 14.66
Heat 11: Flynn Novak (HAW) 14.17 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 11.84
Heat 12: John John Florence (HAW) 18.90 def. Heitor Alves (BRA) 3.24
Heat 13: Gavin Gillette (HAW) 14.20 def. Mick Campbell (AUS) 8.97
Heat 14: Dayyan Neve (AUS) 14.16 def. Tim Boal (FRA) 13.17
Heat 15: Hank Gaskell (HAW) 16.44 def. Ben Dunn (AUS) 15.67
Heat 16: Andy Irons (HAW) 18.40 def. Drew Courtney (AUS) 9.74
BILLABONG PIPE MASTERS ROUND 3 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. Dean Morrison (AUS)
Heat 2: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Torrey Meister (HAW)
Heat 3: Damien Hobgood (USA) vs. Andy Irons (HAW)
Heat 4: Bobby Martinez (USA) vs. John John Florence (HAW)
Heat 5: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Flynn Novak (HAW)
Heat 6: Tom Whitaker (AUS) vs. Michael Picon (FRA)
Heat 7: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) vs. Chris Ward (USA)
Heat 8: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Hank Gaskell (HAW)
Heat 9: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Liam McNamara (HAW)
Heat 10: Kieren Perrow (AUS) vs. Roy Powers (HAW)
Heat 11: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. Bruce Irons (HAW)
Heat 12: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Dayyan Neve (AUS)
Heat 13: Taylor Knox (USA) vs. Phillip MacDonald (AUS)
Heat 14: C.J. Hobgood (USA) vs. Shane Dorian (HAW)
Heat 15: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Gavin Gillette (HAW)
Heat 16: Dane Reynolds (USA) vs. Kekoa Bacalso (HAW)