Pipeline delivered again Friday as the world's best surfers battled through Round 2 of the Billabong Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons, the final stop of the 2015 Samsung Galaxy WSL Men's Championship Tour (CT) and Vans Triple Crown of Surfing.
The stakes were sky high, as three Title contenders relegated to Round 2 were able to avoid elimination. Filipe Toledo (BRA) and Julian Wilson (AUS) were dominant in their respective heats, ousting wildcards Bruce Irons (HAW) and Wade Carmichael (AUS). Adriano de Souza (BRA), meanwhile, narrowly edged out trials winner Jack Robinson (AUS) when the young wildcard's final score came in a fraction of a point short.
"[Jamie O'Brien] opened his house to me a few years back to practice at Pipe and I can't thank him enough," De Souza said. "He understands I want it so much and it was so big for me and my career. I really hope I can win this.
"I don't have a big sponsor like Quiksilver or Billabong that have houses out here, I just have a national brand so I went to Jamie and just said you're the man, if I can't stay here I'll sleep at your door because I want to surf every day here. I have so much respect for the locals out here and just want to spend as much time in the water as I can."
The first elimination round also solidified the list of 2016 rookies who have qualified for next year's Championship Tour (CT). Both Kolohe Andino (USA) and Miguel Pupo (BRA), who were on the cusp of falling below the CT cutoff rank of No. 22, lost their Round 2 heats and ending their runs at Pipe. That means they'll rely Qualifying Series (QS) rankings -- second and fourth respectively -- to requalify for the elite CT. That's good news for Andino and Pupo, but bad news for hopeful QS surfer Stuart Kennedy (AUS) and for low-ranked CT surfer Dusty Payne (HAW), who was also eliminated in Round 2.
After the conclusion of Round 2 was the Women's Pipe Invitational, featuring four of the top Hawaiian surfers in the world. Newly crowned 2015 World Champion Carissa Moore (HAW) paddled out, along with 2015 season runner-up Courtney Conlogue (USA), 2015 Rookie of the Year Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) (HAW) and retired CT surfer Keala Kennelly (HAW), who is a perennial favorite at the Big Wave Awards. Check out the replay and full results for more.
Don't miss the continuation of the Billabong Pipe Masters LIVE on the World Surf League website and App through December 20.