2013 Volcom Pipe Pro - Congratulations John John Florence!
Email sent: Feb 3, 2013 4:04 am
JOHN JOHN FLORENCE IS THREE-TIME VOLCOM PIPE PRO CHAMPION
Pipeline, Oahu, Hawaii (February 2nd, 2013): The 2013 Volcom Pipe Pro began just three days ago with 124 warriors going to battle at the fabled Banzai Pipeline yet by late this afternoon, only four men were left standing. John John Florence (HA, USA), Chris Ward (CA, USA), Josh Kerr (AUS), and Olamana Eleogram (HA, USA) had fought their way into the championship round. A valiant effort was made by all but as the last seconds of the final heat ticked down Oahu's North Shore erupted with excitement and for the third year in a row John John Florence was chaired up the beach and crowned the victor of the Volcom Pipe Pro.
Chris Ward, Olamana Eleogram, John John Florence, Josh Kerr and Richard Woolcott - Photo: Tom Carey
The contest window started off slow with four straight "lei days," as swell conditions did not prove to be contestable. It was on day five that mother nature eventually began to cooperate and the event was off to a start in waves ranging from head high to more than double-overhead. Day one did not disappoint with its epic tube rides, nasty wipeouts, high scores and the very successful VLCQ round. The Volcom Last Chance Qualifier, or VLCQ, was a new addition to the 2013 Volcom Pipe Pro in which local Volcom and Electric team riders Kawai Lindo, JD Irons, Tom Dosland, Mark Healey, Gavin Beschen and David Wassel battled it out in a 30 minute, 6 man heat for the last wildcard spot into the contest. It was in the VLCQ that the first $1,000 "Electric Perfect 10âł score of the contest was awarded to Kawai, yet it was JD's combined score of 14.93 that went on to win the VLCQ and the coveted spot into the round of 96.
The Volcom Pipe Pro - Photo:Tom Carey
Day two began with contestants risking chaotic and turbulent conditions for the reward of monstrous tube rides that exhilarated competitors and spectators alike. As the day continued, pipe really turned on becoming what many would say was the best day of the winter so far. The surfers took full advantage and before long some world class barrel riding was seen from the likes of Bruce Irons (HAW), Reef McIntosh (HAW), Chris Ward (CA., USA), Alex Gray (CA., USA) and Nat Young (CA., USA) who received the day's first and only Perfect 10 of the day - a rare double tube ride on his first wave of his first ever Pipe competition. John John Florence then stole spotlight in an incredible super-session heat where he stacked up four mind-blowing 9-point tube rides of which the top two delivered the highest total score of the contest - 19.7 points out of 20.
John John - Photo: Tom Carey
The third and final day saw slightly smaller yet more consistent surf and as the pool of competitors grew smaller, the performances exploded with heat after heat of radical surfing that had spectators afraid to look away. It wasn't long before the finals were underway where in the end John John Florence claimed his third consecutive Volcom Pipe Pro title at the Banzai Pipeline.
"It was definitely a special final for me, my third time in a row, I can't even believe it," said Florence. "I was just happy to make it through today really, because the waves were small but still really good. Surfing the four man heats in small, peaky conditions like that is really tough and it's quite a battle to even get a wave. I'm glad I snuck some in."
Chris Ward - Photo: Tom Carey
Earlier in the day, Florence survived a super tight quarter final clash with three other surfers who have tasted victory at Pipeline: Jamie O'Brien, Reef McIntosh, and Bruce Irons.
"That quarter final heat was a scary one," Florence said. So many of the guys that I really respect and have watched since I was so little. I knew I was going to have to go out there and paddle battle because it's small. But I don't want to paddle battle the guys I've been looking up to since I was little, so I kind of just went out and did what I could to sneak in a couple waves."
Looking ahead to his upcoming season on the ASP World Championship Tour that starts in Australia in a few weeks: "I just hope it's as good as last year. Last year was the best year of my life."
For Josh Kerr, living in California now means he's closer than ever to Pipeline.
"Living in California and jumping over the puddle to Hawaii to be in the tropics, surfing in boardshorts, it's a no-brainer," said Kerr, who was one of only a handful of World Championship Tour surfers like Florence who chose to contest this event. "When you look at the forecast and know you're going to get waves it's pretty exciting."
When asked of what the year holds in store for him, he's already looking at his next shot at Pipe: "The last two events I've gotten to surf Pipe with just a couple of other guys out and I wish we could just keep doing this (laughs). Getting heats in at Pipe when there's no-one else around, not having to free-surf with a hundred guys around you trying to be in position... you can take that experience into the Pipe Masters. That's priceless!"
There were moments of hope for Ward and Kerr, both of whom had been in brilliant form over the past two days of incredible surf. Prior to the final, Eleogram had been having a break-out performance. From the beach it was clear that Florence had tapped into a sixth sense in the final that can only come with a lifetime of watching and riding the most coveted surf spot on Earth. With that, he is sure to rule here for a very long time.
Conditions were super clean, consistent, and perfectly hollow throughout the day. Two $1,000 "Electric Perfect 10" tube rides were scored, one by Kerr in the quarter finals, and one by local Marcus Hickman in the round of 32, however he still did not advance.
Hickman and seven other Hawaiians, were still major winners today, Jamie O'Brien; Reef McIntosh; Bruce Irons; Olamana Eleogram; Kahea Hart; Kaimana Jaquias; Hickman; and Joel Centeio guaranteed themselves a berth in the most prestigious professional surfing event on the planet: the year-ending Pipe Masters in December.
Other worthy mentions in this event were Japan's Masatoshi Ohno, and Brazil's Jesse Mendes, who absolutely charged and committed themselves to more than a few heavy barrels.
Also awarded today was the Todd Chesser Memorial Award, given each year to the surfer in this event who charges hard yet retains the spirit of sportsmanship and aloha, like Todd did during his life. The award was presented by Todd's mom, Jeannie Chesser, to local surfer Kahea Hart. Hart looked destined for the final today, but stumbled with an unintended interference in the quarter finals. He was visibly moved to receive the award.
Volcom also awarded $58,000 to the widow and two young daughters of North Shore big wave rider and beloved member of the community, Sion Milosky, who passed away in March, 2011, surfing giant Mavericks, in California. Volcom maintains the "Live Like Sion" fund and has presented the family with a check for the past two winters.
1st: $20,000 - John John Florence - 16.33 points (8.43, 7.9)
2nd: $10,000 - Chris Ward - 14.8 (7.93, 6.87)
3rd: $6,500 - Josh Kerr - 13.83 (8.33, 5.5)
4th: $5,500 - 13.3 (6.87, 6.43)