Reef McIntosh doesn’t much care for surf contests. Maybe there’s something about the rigid structuring of organized competition, the shrieking sounds of a heat horn, or maybe it’s the ill-fitting jerseys. Whatever the reasoning may be, you can rest assured that you’re not going to see Reef paddle-battling Neco Padaratz at a Brazilian beachbreak anytime soon.
Competing at 10-foot Pipeline, on the other hand, is a horse of an entirely different color.
So it’s here at Pipe that we find Reef, bobbing amid a lineup swarmed by 10-footers and the odd crippling closeout. This is the inaugural Volcom Pipeline Pro and Reef’s wrapped in an ill-fitting singlet, setting his heat’s rhythm to the bellows of a horn, and grinning from ear to ear. For contests at Pipeline, Reef and (plenty of others like him) makes exceptions.
Most mornings on the North Shore resemble a stew of curdled milk-thick, chunky, and stomach turning. Up until the halfway mark of the second round, competitors were consistently squeaking through heats with a two-wave total shy of six points. A few hours later, coupled with a favorable shift in the wind, and Pipe turned pristine. Line upon line of 10-foot perfection exploded on the reef. And when Pipe turns on, you don’t have to look very far to find Jamie O’Brien.
Regarded as the premier Pipe surfer of the modern era, Jamie’s act-make that his entire life-has been forged in this arena. His comfort was clear today when he posted a 10 and the day’s highest heat score at 19 points.
“I knew I was deep on that one,” said Jamie about his 10-pointer. “I was late, the wind held me up at the top, then it let me down. I just did the biggest bottom turn I could, grabbed a rail, and projected up really high. I almost went too high, then I fell down low, hit the foam ball and bounced, then it was like a shock-wave pushed me on….”
Others, perhaps still green around the edges, didn’t fare as well as O’Brien. Taking a beating and a bloody hook to the cheek from the reef, 13-year-old Landon McNamara left a knot in our stomach in his heat today. Although he edged his way through the matchup, his win came with a few scars. Making his way up the beach, still shaking with adrenaline, a bloody cheek and a shredded arm in tow, McNamara couldn’t hold back his enthusiasm.
“I got pretty worked on that one but it didn’t really slow me down. I hit my face on the bottom, but I had so much adrenaline I didn’t even think about it,” said Landon about sacrificing his body for an in to the next round. Needless to say, Landon earned himself a lot respect today with his gritty, tooth-and-nail performance.
There’s a lot more grassroots, backyard rushing in store for the remaining two days of the Volcom Pipeline Pro. Stay locked to Surfermag.com. – Jeff Mull
Round of 96 (First 10 of 16 heats completed today)
1st & 2nd advance. 3rd=65th, 4th=81st
Listed in order of 1st through 4th; Hawaiian unless noted otherwise
H1: Jonah Morgan; Solomon Ortiz; Charlie Carroll; Liam McNamara
H2: Ian Walsh; Takayuki Wakita (JPN); Ricky Whitlock (USA); Oliver Kurtz (USA)
H3: Jamie O’Brien; Anthony Walsh (AUS); Ryan Briggs (USA) Josie Graves(PRI)
H4: Albee Layer; Marcus Hickman; Alejandro Moreda (PRI); Matt Mohagen(USA)
H5: Rob Machado (USA); Kawai Lindo; Jason Shibata; Kellen Ellison (USA)
H6: Kevin Sullivan; Devon Tresher (USA); Tyler Newton; Bobby Morris (USA)
H7: Nils Schweizer (USA); Landon McNamara; Ezra Sitt; Shinpei Horiguchi(JPN)
H8: Mark Healey; Clay Marzo; Mitch Coleborn (Aus); Gavin Beschen
H9: David Wassell; Sean Moody; Ryah Arthur (USA); Jensen Callaway (USA)
H10: Danny Fuller; Keito Matsuoka (JPN); Billy Kemper; Teppei Tajima (JPN)
Round of 112
1st & 2nd advance, 3rd=97th; 4th=105th
H1: Jonah Morgan; Ian Walsh; John Irons; Dane Ward (USA)
H2: Jamie O’Brien; Marcus Hickman; Edrick Baldwin; Tom Dosland
H3: Kawai Lindo; Tyler Newton (USA); Randall Paulson; Ry Craike
H4: Shinpei Horiguchi (JPN); Mark Healey; Stephen Koehne; Keli Everett
H5: David Wassell; Billy Kemper; Felipe Cesariano (BRZ); Jason Frederico
H6: Kalani Chapman; David Giddings (USA); Aamion Goodwin; Mikey Bruneau
H7: Derek Ho; Sion Milosky; Keoni Nozaki; Kyle Garson (USA)
H8: Reef McIntosh; Kaupena Miranda; Rico Jiminez; Ronald Brown (CRI)