With the holding period for the Volcom Pipe Pro opening Sunday, a mix of more than 100 local Pipe specialists, ’QS warriors, and Pipe legends are watching swell charts and dialing in their quivers for one of the most anticipated non-World Tour contests of the season. In addition to the leagues of ’QS surfers vying for ratings points, a glance through the draw reveals that the likes of Slater and John John will be donning jerseys as well. And while those two will be frontrunners in the event, we’re casting an eye on the local, non-WT surfers to do some real damage when the horn blows. Below, we’ve listed six proven Hawaiians to watch out for at the Volcom Pipe Pro.
The talk throughout the islands is that 2014 will be Zeke’s year to break out of the ‘QS and onto the World Tour. While it’s a tall order for someone who only recently graduated from high school, Zeke’s clearly chomping at the bit. While Zeke calls Honolulu home, he’s become closely acquainted with Pipe over the years and spends a healthy chunk of his time in the winter posted up at the Volcom house, putting in countless hours at Pipe and Backdoor. Coming off his victory at Sunset in the Triple Crown, Zeke’s proven to himself that he’s capable of winning major events. And when you mix that kind of confidence with talent, big results are sure to follow.
It’s not an easy thing to make surfing at Pipe look easy, but that’s precisely what Mason Ho does. With one of the deepest surfing pedigrees on the North Shore, Mason has been watching either his father Michael or his uncle Derek slot himself at the locale for as long as he can remember. As Mason’s grown older, he’s built himself a reputation for his unorthodox approach. In the water, he’s progressive, nonchalant, and doesn’t hesitate on waves that leave many of his counterparts weak in the knees. In the tube, he’s as deft as they come and has the rare ability to make a 15-foot barrel at Pipe seem approachable. Of all the surfers we’re highlighting here, Mason will be the most fun to watch.
He may be 44 years old, but Sunny Garcia continues to be a standout at any lineup he enters. As one of the most revered Hawaiian surfers of the modern era, Sunny has a host of competitive accolades to his name (think world champ, six triple crown titles, and 22 ‘QS wins) and will send a shiver down the spine of anyone he draws. He’s a proven standout at Pipe and has won there in the past. But because he’s no longer grinding it out on the ’QS full time, Sunny will be entering the event as a lower draw in the Round of 96; so be warned, Sunny rips even harder when he has something to prove.
Arguably one of the hardest-charging surfers seeded into the event, you won’t find Makua second-guessing himself if conditions grow heavy. While he’s opted to build his career as a freesurfer, it would be a mistake to underestimate Makua’s capability in a jersey. He’s a seasoned competitor at Pipe and has dropped more than a handful of impressive performances at the venue in the past. If the event is privy to some Second Reef sets, expect Makua to inflict some damage.
Coming of age with the likes of John John, Kiron, 23, has quietly been sculpting a reputation for himself as both an adept tech surfer and Pipe charger. With the North Shore serving as his stomping grounds, Kiron has become a mainstay at Pipe over the past few years and recently picked up a new sponsor. In 2011, Kiron added a notch to his belt by winning a 4-Star event in heaving 10-foot Puerto, proving that he has what it takes to potentially find himself standing on the podium come events end.
Despite being one of the most accomplished junior competitors to come out of Hawaii in recent years, Ewa Beach’s Keanu Asing doesn’t always get the recognition he deserves. After a solid few years on the ’QS, we have a feeling that’s going to change in 2014. Sure he’s small in stature, but Keanu is an absolute beast in a heat and is looking to make a major breakout in 2014. His focus and ambition coupled with his experience at Pipe over the past few seasons will undoubtedly make him a dangerous draw for anyone he encounters in the comp.