Conditions improved drastically to start the second day of the Volcom Pipe Pro competition before Pipeline got moody toward the afternoon hours. The north winds continue to plague North Shore lineups up and down the Seven Mile Miracle despite the pulse in swell competitors were hoping for.
But, moments of brilliance were littered throughout the remaining Round 2 heats and Round 3 Heats 1 - 13, as well as the anticipated Volcom Last Chance Qualifier -- particularly the final moments of the day that led to its highest numbers.
Backdoor Magic For Josh Burke
The event's first, near-perfect score was earned by one of Barbados' top barrel technicians, Josh Burke, as a critical drop led to a massive Backdoor cavern to earn a 9.07 (out of a possible 10). The 21-year-old first came to the North Shore at age 14 and that experience, as well as having Soup Bowl for the perfect training ground, paid dividends to get into Round 4.
"I was happy to be out there by myself with priority because Jamie's (O'Brien) intimidating out there just being at his home break," Burke said. "Soup Bowl is a bit of a mix of waves out here. It's kind of like Off The Wall and Backdoor when it's clean, but can be like Haleiwa when it's windy. It's so hard to be unprepared for this event staying at the Billabong house and the ocean right there so I'm incredibly grateful for that. You can see Pipeline a little bit from there and it makes it look a lot more scary, especially when people knife it and you only see fins through the back of the wave."
Makuakai Rothman's Backdoor Bomb: "It's Surfing, The Waves Choose You"
Rothman found himself dropping into a Backdoor bomb when he needed it most in the dying seconds of his Round 3 heat and came flying out with the wave's spit surrounding him to earn an excellent 8.50 (out of a possible 10). The 34-year-old, former WSL Big Wave Champion, showed his patience and the ocean rewarded him for it
"Sunny Garcia always says if it's not an 8-point ride, don't go and I needed a 7.57 today," Rothman said. "I wouldn't say it's easy but if you get a barrel and come out with the spit, you're going to get the score and I knew none of those other waves that came in offered the scoring potential. I sat there waiting for my wave and if it didn't come, it wasn't my time. It's surfing, the waves choose you, they come to you and some guys are luckier than others. It came to me and I'm blessed, tomorrow's another day."
Volcom Last Chance Qualifer: Welcome to the Main Event, Mikey Bruneau
A specialty heat highlighted the early stages of day two that included the likes of former WSL Champion Derek Ho and Pipeline chargers such as Kai Mana Henry with the Volcom Last Chance Qualifier -- the winner earning their spot into Round 3. But, it was former Pipe Invitational winner Mikey Bruneau who took it down in great fashion by finding Pipeline gold for a 6.00 (out of a possible 10). While opportunity was scare in the heat, Bruneau enjoyed the camaraderie as he now prepares to shift gears into competition.
"I just went into it wanting to have fun with my friends surfing and got that six thinking maybe it will hang on -- glad it did," Bruneau said. "I just tried to pick and choose, there wasn't many good waves, but I saw that one wave and knew it'd have a little barrel. Basically just tried to navigate through that heat, but the rip was pretty gnarly so just stayed focused. It was super rad to be in that heat with them and it was nothing but good vibes, everyone was laughing and not competition mode. I hope we get some barreling Pipeline and I'm focused, and it's competition mode."
Da Hui Backdoor Shoot Champ Makes His Move at Volcom Pipe Pro
Tyler Newton proved himself as a threat before the first horn of this event sounded after taking down the 2019 Da Hui Backdoor Shootout title and brought that confidence into winning form in Round 3. The Kauai, Hawaii, native showcased his prowess for the barrel once again and earned a solid 7.33 to find himself into the top-seeded Round 4. Newton is also understanding the process and what it takes to compete at a high level which was on full display today.
"I went on the first one and the face pinched on me, but then I saw Makai (McNamara) get a right and thought I just need to wait for a good one so I was stoked it came," Newton said. "Nothing too crazy but it got the job done. It's going through phases where there is good waves and then the wind will come up, there's a rip, but that' Pipeline."
"I'm feeling healthy, I've been training a lot and just trying to be the best me I can," Newton added. "Hanging out with Ian Walsh at Nias then going to Teahupoo after and seeing the way Nate (Florence) and Koa operate is really inspiring. You have to be an athlete, it's not like when I was a kid and just going out to surf. Now it's training, being smart, boards, eating healthy - just all of that comes into play."
Pipeline Shows Its Different Moods
The early morning's conditions began to deteriorate toward the later stages, but surfers rose to the challenge and Parker Coffin found one of the last proper cover-ups of the day after Billy Kemper Backdoor gem the heat prior to push into an advancing position. But, it was the Santa Barbara, California, native who garnered a Pipeline barrel to win his Round 3 heat and set himself as a threat when conditions prove tough.
"When you can get that first score and calm the nerves a little bit then you just focus on getting that backup," Coffin said. "You can runaway with it more at the start than you can at the end [and] you don't want to need scores at the end of the heat. That's also at the same time the funnest way to win when you get that score in the last five seconds, but it's nicer on the tension levels to get it at the start. This year I'm not competing full-time which is a different program than I've been used to in the past. But, I'll still do a fair number of events and challenge myself like I have in the past just to feel that pressure to compete."
Also getting notable wins; Kalani David earned another big win with his barrel technique, Samson Coulter found his way to an awaiting Round 3 bout after a debut Round 2 win. Hawaii natives represented strong with Koa Smith and Noah Beschen proving strong in tough conditions alongside international talents such as Mitch Coleborn, Keijiro Nishi, and Justin Becret.
Event organizers will reconvene at 7:00 a.m. HST to determine a possible