- WSL / Manulele INC
Highlights: Pipe Ignites for Finals
Kelly Slater earns his first victory since 2014 in epic conditions at Pipeline.

Kelly Slater found his way back in the winner's circle for the first time in two years with a victory at the Volcom Pipe Pro, going the distance in an epic showdown that took place in picture-perfect conditions.

Kelly Slater aiming for the next section. Photo Credit: WSL/Freesurf/Heff 43-year-old Slater made it back on top for the first time in two years at the Volcom Pipe Pro with a vintage performance. Photo: WSL/Freesurf/Heff - WSL / tony heff

"The waves were flawless," a smiling Slater said after taking the win. "That was what you grow up dreaming about as a kid. To win this contest is great, but we were all just surfing through heats to get some waves...They were the show."

Bruce Irons taking a high line at Pipeline. Photo Credit: WSL/Freesurf/Latronic Bruce Irons has been putting in his water time of late, and it paid off this week. - WSL / Manulele INC

While the Volcom Pipe Pro has an incredible seven-year history of scoring pretty solid surf, it's been a stingy event when it comes to handing out winner helmets. Heading into the final day, only Jamie O'Brien, Kelly Slater, and John John Florence have earned them, with John John being especially greedy with four.

However, at a QS3000 event in Hawaii the hidden threats are everywhere, beginning right at home with the locals, who did their usual job of nabbing the a good chunk of the spotlight.

John John Florence inside an enormous cave at Pipe.. Photo Credit: WSL/Freesurf/Heff John John Florence showed why he has four Volcom Pipe Pro helmets to his name in the early going, but was upset in the quarterfinals by a fired-up Makai McNamara. Photo: WSL/Freesurf/Heff - WSL / tony heff
I can't believe we get paid to do this. - Kelly Slater

Young guns Makai McNamara, Mason Ho, and Eala Stewart all put on remarkable displays, representing Hawaii's next generation well. But they also inflicted some damage on their local legends. Florence and Dusty Payne both fell victim to McNamara. And while O'Brien and a rejuvenated Bruce Irons advanced to the Finals using their patented brand of Pipe performing, they dodged bullets along the way.

It should be noted that Florence was putting on his usual Pipe clinic right up until his Quarterfinal loss.

Jamie O'Brien finds perfection at home. Photo Credit: WSL/Freesurf/Heff Jamie O'Brien's career is inexorably linked Pipeline, and he demonstrated why during his runner-up performance. Photo: WSL/Freesurf/Heff - WSL / tony heff

Meanwhile, McNamara's most impressive feat came in the Semis. After getting called for an interference he patiently waited out the back for a bomb, knowing he'd need a 10 to advance. Remarkably, he found one of the biggest bombs of the day and made an impossible drop before pulling into a massive cavern. He came out with arms defiantly raised, knowing he got the score he needed to advance.

The young Hawaiian surfed brilliantly on his way to the final. Photo: WSL/Freesurf/Heff Thanks to his 10-point ride, Makai McNamara advanced out of the semifinal despite an interference call against him. Photo: WSL/Freesurf/Heff. - WSL / Tony Heff

Of course, there were the outside threats, too, led by a crew of Australians that included Jack Robinson, Tom Whitaker and Soli Bailey, who all delivered impressive performances. Whitaker bested the bunch with a Semifinal finish.

Then there were surprise packages, none bigger than Marco Giorgi of Uruguay. Giorgi has been competing on the QS for years, but Tuesday was arguably his coming out party: He sent Robinson, Koa Smith, and Kai Barger up to the viewing balcony.

Marco Giorgi (URY), Pipeline, 2016 Marco Giorgi of Uruguay was undoubtedly the biggest surprise of the event, and it took Kelly Slater and Bruce Irons to stop him. - WSL / ML

Ultimately, Giorgi's incredible run ended at the hands of Irons and Slater in the Semifinals, but his name is now certainly on the radar.

The Finals were almost what you'd have predicted on paper, with Slater, O'Brien and Irons all in the mix. For Irons, his return to the Finals is another sign that his healing process is reaching a healthy phase. For the first time since losing his brother five years ago, Bruce looked like Bruce, and the fans loved it.

Slater advances onto Round 4 Ironically, 43-year-old Kelly Slater has been doing this for longer than Makai McNamara's been alive. - WSL / Freesurf/Heff

McNamara, meanwhile, was enjoying his biggest coming out party to date. He had a legitimate shot at forcing an upset after nabbing an 8.67 in the Final. But the 20-year-old, who wasn't even alive when Kelly won his first Pipe Masters, couldn't manage to find a backup wave.

Slater was his usual Slater-self at Pipe, bending into all kinds of yoga positions while threading both the lefts and rights. By taking the win, he secured his 10th career victory at Pipeline which now includes seven Pipe Masters, two Volcom Pipe Pros, and one Da Hui Backdoor Shootout.

Kelly Slater's first win in two years. Photo Credit: WSL/Freesurf/Heff The King and his latest crown. Photo: WSL/Freesurf/Heff - WSL / Tony Heff

On the victory stand, Slater put the whole day in perspective. "It was unbelievable. I can't believe we get paid to do this."

Get the full results.

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