The many faces of Pipeline revealed themselves again today for the Billabong Pipe Masters. Three-to-four foot peaks roped across the reef over sheet glass like fine porcelain china. With this particular size and swell direction, it's really Pipe Lite™ ("More Backdoor, less filling") and at first superficial glance the place looks manageable to mere mortals. But even at its most alluring, like it was for the day's early heats, what exists is a menacing facade, the true craggy grin of a wicked devil lurking inches below.
That's not to say that after nearly 10 days of waiting for a real greenlight the competitors in Round Two and Three didn't go on the attack.
As the day progressed, conditions regressed slightly due to a decidedly variable breeze described by color man Ross Williams as "schizo winds." On the bright side was a predominantly southeast direction that turns Backdoor ramps into some of the best air waves in the world. Not everyone tossed their tubes-first approach, but Italo Ferreira threw caution to the wind and a solid backside Rodeo 540 for a one-turn score approaching the excellent range.
Today's form surfer (outside Mr. Yellow Jersey himself, John John Florence) was Conner Coffin, who surfed in both of the two best heats of the day. First was a blistering, back-and-forth affair against Jack Freestone which featured the highest combined heat score of the round and one of Coffin's trademark buried-rail, layback hacks following a Backdoor shack.
After his Round Two performance, with his main rival Caio Ibelli now conveniently eliminated from the event by Ryan Callinan, he looked a shoo-in for the coveted Rookie of the Year award. Yet, once again, Pipe had other plans.
Unfortunately for Coffin, he found himself surfing against the Master of Broken Surfing Dreams -- the aforementioned KS11 -- in Round Three. After he was given crib notes by Shane Dorian directing him to "do something big at the end of the wave," an incredulous Slater looked to punish the industrious lad from Santa Barbara, Calif.
And punish he did, jumping out to a lead he built upon until very late into the heat. Needing a score well into the 9-point range, the Californian grabbed the best wave of the heat and appeared to do what was needed to win. Seconds ticked, three judges didn't agree, he lost by .07.
Just like that, Coffin was out of the event and the ROTY race.
Artist: Car Seat Headrest
Track: "Destroyed By Hippie Powers"