Volcom Pipe Pro
World Surf League QS 3000
Banzai Pipeline, Oahu Hawaii
29 January - 8 February 2015
Check the Live Action
Defending Pipe Pro champ Slater sets pace through the day
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 1 February, 2015 - Pipeline - Freedom from having to prove a thing is 11-time WSL World Champion Kelly Slater's (USA) ultimate weapon, proven with two pace-setting performances at the Volcom Pipe Pro today.
In high quality but inconsistent 8-to-10 foot barrels, Slater put on a tube-riding clinic at Backdoor Pipe to post two of the three highest heat scores of the event in Rounds 3 and 4 - 16.2 points and 15.6 points respectively. The only surfer to surpass him was his nextdoor neighbor John John Florence (HAW), who topped the scores at 17.0 in Round 4.
Slater, 42, is the defending Volcom Pipe Pro champion but also plays the role of inspiring a new generation of pro surfers - including Florence - that are here to try their hand against the ultimate surfer of their lifetime. While he may be light years removed in terms of career accomplishments and experience, Kelly is right on par with their youthful exuberance and excitement to surf the world's "ultimate playground": Pipeline.
Kelly Slater © Reed/Volcom
Slater advanced from his fourth round heat to the quarter finals today alongside 21-year-old Kaimana Jaquias (HAW) - the son of one of Kelly's good friends and original touring peers, Kaipo Jaquias.
"It's cool to surf with Kaimana, I surfed against his dad 20-plus years ago, so to now be surfing against his kid is pretty cool," said Slater.
Kelly first stepped foot on the sands of Pipeline at the age of 14 and says he's as excited by the place now as he was on that day.
"This is the ultimate playground for me. There's nothing else to me that's nearly as fun as my job. I just love it. I sit on the beach and imagine what I'm going to do when I get out there and I get stoked when I see someone get a great wave. And it's getting more and more like that as I get older and less attached to the results."
Twenty-two year-old Florence is at the other end of the spectrum and career line. Touted as one of surfing's greatest natural talents, proving himself is precisely what he's here for.
Ian Walsh © Volcom/Bielmann
Along with their property fence-line, Florence also shares Slater's passion for Pipe and source of momentum for the year. Just weeks ago they both ended the 2014 season here watching Brazil's Gabriel Medina run away with the world title.
"I got a lot of confidence out of the end of last year and Gabe winning the title," said Florence. "It really opened my eyes, like, oh my gosh, I want to do that now! It's really pushing all of us. "Going into 2015, I'm excited, and it's great to start the year here at home in great waves. This event helps get momentum to head into the season."
Other top performers today included Ezekiel Lau (HAW), Sebastian Zietz (HAW), CJ Hobgood (USA), Mikey Bruneau (HAW), Masatoshi Ohno (JPN), and Hank Gaskell (HAW). Sixteen surfers remain in contention for the Volcom Pipe Pro title at this time, and organizers anticipate the final heats being held tomorrow morning. The call will be made at 7am. (See Quarter Final heat draw below.
John John Florence © Volcom/Bielmann
Quarter Finals Draw:
H1: E Lau (HAW), A Aranburu (ESP), S Zietz (HAW), I Gouveia (BRA)
H2: M Bruneau (HAW), K David (HAW), JJ Florence (HAW), I Walsh (HAW)
H3: K Slater (USA), B Toth (PRI), H Gaskell (HAW), K Andino (USA)
H4: M Ohno (JPN), K Jaquias (HAW), CJ Hobgood (USA), M Ho (HAW)
H1: E Lau (HAW) 13.77; K David (HAW) 6.57; S Murakami (JPN) 3.67; G Gillette (HAW) 3.56 ~
H2: S Zietz (HAW) 12.26; I Walsh (HAW) 12.1; H Bettero (BRA) 2.83; N Florence (HAW) 1.96 ~
H3: M Bruneau (HAW) 12.57; A Aranburu (ESP) 6.5; J O'Brien (Haw) 6.2; S Moniz (HAW) 4.37 ~
H4: JJ Florence (HAW); I Gouveia (BRA) 10.86; NM McGonagle (CRI) 10.43; D Payne (HAW) 3.36 ~
H5: K Slater (USA) 15.6; K Jaquias (HAW); J Mendes (BRA) 5.54; B Kemper (HAW) 4.44 ~
H6: H Gaskell (HAW) 9.0; M Ho (HAW) 5.74; W Dantas (BRA) 4.56; D Staples (ZAF) 3.84 ~
H7: M Ohno (JPN) 8.83; B Toth (PRI) 8.27; B Stack (USA) 8.13; M Padaca (HAW) 7.67 ~
H8: CJ Hobgood (USA) 11.1; K Andino (USA) 10.33; C Ward (USA) 8.0; L Silveira (BRA) 5.8