Australian Soli Bailey, 21, scored a remarkable underdog victory against Pipeline veterans Adriano de Souza (BRA) and Bruce Irons (HAW), and Californian Griffin Colapinto to secure the highest profile win of his professional career at the Volcom Pipe Pro, a World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 3,000 event. The competition featured some of the best surfers in the world at one of the most famous venues on the planet and Bailey came out on top, well ahead of competitors with a combined heat score of 13.26.
"This is definitely the biggest [win] of my career," said Soli. "There's been a few tough losses last year and what not, and I think I've just learned from them and to come here and stay cool, calm and collected right through the Final then take it out is just.. it's a dream come true and one step closer to where I want to be."
The Volcom Pipe Pro has only seen four winners in its eight-year history - Jamie O'Brien (HAW) in 2010, John John Florence (HAW) in ‘11, '12, '13 and '15, Kelly Slater (USA) in ‘14 and '16 and now Bailey in 2017. Much to the dismay of the local beach crowd, Florence went home early, sent packing in the first Semifinal by Bailey and Colapinto.
Conditions shifted for the Final and the four athletes were on the hunt for waves, while the slight offshore breeze and building surf helped the cause.
Colapinto was off to a fierce start and jumped on the first couple of waves, while Irons opened up his campaign early as well. Meanwhile, Bailey and de Souza got into a feisty paddle battle for position, but didn't find a solid score until after the biggest set of the day swept through the lineup. The massive waves snapped both Bailey's and Irons' leashes and forced them back to shore to adjust their equipment. De Souza took advantage of the cleared out lineup and scored a 4.50 on a small left, but it wasn't long after that Bailey dropped the first proper ride of the Final, a 5.67 for a reeling right.
"It's pretty surreal right now," continued Bailey. "All I know is something amazing just happened and there were some great waves ridden and I'm just super, super stoked right now."
The best wave of the 35-minute Final went to the Australian for a double barrel combined with a solid frontside turn, which garnered a 7.33 and an eruption from the beach crowd. He backed this up with a 5.93, which put him points ahead of runner up de Souza, who ended with a combined heat score of 8.43.
De Souza was a standout performer throughout the event and surfed an impressive five times today from Round 3. The Brazilian also scored the day's only 9-point ride for a deep, traveling Backdoor barrel, which judges gave 9.5's across the board - a performance one would expect from a former Pipe Masters champion (2015).
"It was pretty much my best wave of my winter," he said. "I feel so blessed, I feel like I won something really special. I feel like I won at the best contest ever just because I got one wave… This wave is so challenging, it's so hard to get a good wave out there, and I've been here for the last three months, so you can imagine I've been here for three months waiting for this wave."
Seth Moniz (HAW) was recognized also for his fierce commitment and impressive performance throughout the event and was presented with the annual Todd Chesser Hard Charger award. The trophy is given out each year to honor North Shore big wave waterman Todd Chesser, who passed away in 1997 during an outer reef surf session. But his legacy lives on at the Volcom Pipe Pro and this year Moniz demonstrated the sportsmanship and outstanding performance that caught mom Jeannie Chesser's eye.
"Wow this is pretty amazing to be here right now standing and receiving the Todd Chesser award," said Moniz. "Ever since I was a little kid I always heard about him. I never got to meet him, but I heard he was a super nice and humble guy who went out there and charged. I'm just super honored to be here, to receive this award, thank you auntie."
During the awards ceremony, Volcom also presented a $60,000 check to the Boys & Girls Club and a $16,000 check to the Sion Memorial Fund. Volcom continues to be a supporter of community causes and perpetuates a charitable reputation that grows each year. The stoke was felt not only through the surf event itself but also with the cultural and community involvements, which continue to be a cornerstone of the Volcom Pipe Pro.