El Niño delivered in the Pacific Ocean yet again, sending perfect waves and light wind to the North Shore of Oahu for the Volcom Pipe Pro. Amidst the perfect waves came some notable highlights: Kelly Slater returned to the podium, Bruce Irons returned to form, and Hawaiians Jamie O'Brien, Makai McNamara and Ezekiel Lau scored perfect waves.
O'Brien, the event's runner-up, spends more time surfing Pipe than most. Years of experience, make it look all too easy for the average surfer. O'Brien was rumored to have said that if he had to lose, 11-time World Champion Kelly Slater was an okay person to finish behind.
Irons hasn't done much competing in the past couple years. But with his bid into the 2015 Billabong Pipe Masters, he admitted he'd found a renewed spark for surfing that had diminished in the years following his brother Andy's death. His performance at the Volcom Pipe Pro was nothing short of legendary.
Makai McNamara, is the son of North Shore legend Liam McNamara. Only 20 years old, Makai has been surfing Pipe for years. He has competed in the Billabong Pipe Master and Volcom Pipe Pro previously, but in 2016 he leveled up, dropping a number of excellent scores at the famed break, including a perfect 10 during this most recent comp. He didn't win, but he charged as hard as anybody in the Final.
The Finalists weren't the only standout performers. Australian Tom Whitaker and Maui's Dusty Payne, both former Championship Tour surfers, dropped into their fair share of Pipeline bombs. The two made it all the way to the Semis.
And of course, Honolulu native Ezekiel Lau represented his side of the island strongly with the first perfect 10 of the event. Lau's wave was the best score earned at Backdoor throughout the entire event.
The biggest darkhorse of the event, however, was a South American. No not a Brazilian, but a Uruguayan, Marco Giorgi. With only a handful of surfers from Uruguay currently competing on the Qualifying Series, Giorgi represented his native country well. Having finished 33rd at last year's Volcom Pipe Pro, Giorgi battled his way to the Semifinals in 2016, eliminating Pipe specialists like Joel Centeio, Koa Smith and Jack Robinson and charging hard throughout the event.