Perhaps late last night in the early hours of the morning, the field of surfers in Round Two of the Volcom Pipe Pro placed crisp dollar bills beneath their pillows so that the tube fairy would come.
If they did, then it worked because conditions surely shaped up a bit with a crisp, light offshore south wind caressing 4-6-foot righthanders. Indeed, today Pipeline's intense Backdoor peak was far more hollow, consistent and lacking the difficult steps the wave faces wore yesterday. Although there was barely a left in sight (until the late afternoon), the surf was simply stunning.
While every single heat that ran today had its own little drama or unexpected loss/glory, there are two developing storylines we ‘d like to touch upon.
The first, is the way a few of the younger, greener competitors are making their marks out there. Like local boy 15-year-old Wyatt McHale who won his Round Two heat, continuing on his tear from yesterday.
Tripping out over surfing Pipeline with priority, the bubbly McHale was all smiles.
"There might be 50 people out normally on a day like today, so I remember one wave where I had priority and everyone was looking at it, but it was mine, recalled McHale. "So, I went, and I mean that never happens [laughs]."
In one of the potential heats of the day featuring 2010 Volcom Pipe Pro champion, Jamie O'Brien, 19-year-old Seth Moniz got busy early and stole the show. Keeping busy with an array of upper-midrange tubes, Seth was noticeably hungry, punching through doggy-doors like a man-child on a mission.
"Luckily I got a quick start," said Moniz. "The whole heat I was thinking Jamie's gonna get his 8…but the waves are hard to read out there. They're bending out to sea with the north angle. But the years before out here, I just wanted to make a heat or two, but now...it's like I want win it, you know?"
Unable to make sense of the inconsistency in the heat, Jamie O'Brien failed to advance, while Maui's 17-year-old Cody Young snuck into the second place spot behind Moniz.
The second big story is the stunning performances of past Volcom Pipe Pro finalists. Guys like Mason Ho and Bruce Irons, who had THE heat of the day together in Round Two, both look dead set on a win out here, something that's evaded the two in recent years.
In a good old fashioned Backdoor battle, Ho and Irons went tit for tat, seemingly in a league of their own, trading long, throaty barrels. Ho started the brawl with a strong 7.83 but Irons answered back, weaving through a gorgeous righthander to earn an 8.6. With nearly two minutes left in the heat, Ho found an impossibly long inside barrel, exiting the tube parallel-stance for the win.
"A lot of the best barrels in the world -- you can defy real life with them," said Mason Ho after his heat. "And Backdoor is like that. That's what I love about the wave."
In the heat after Bruce and Mason's battle royale though, Makuakai Rothman pumped like a bat out of hell through a solid Backdoor grower. One of his first surfs back after a lingering rib-injury, Rothman posted a perfect 10 across the board for the wave, winning the heat with almost no backup score. It was the first 10 of the entire event so far.
"I couldn't have my brother [Koa] being the only one talked about having a perfect wave," laughed Rothman. "Backdoor is probably my favorite wave ever, though. It's so magical and creates some magical moments just like that."
Indeed, with a fresh 8-10-foot west swell arriving tonight, the magic's supposed to stick around…only less Backdoor and more proper Pipeline. Hopefully, the seeded competitors in Round Three have some more paper in their purses for the Tube Fairy.
She's saying it's double for big, hollow lefts.