As has often been the case over the nine-year history of this event, the many faces of Pipeline were revealed on Day Two of the Volcom Pipe Pro.
Today's morning heats at Backdoor were flush with "nuggetty, aggro little teepees," as appropriately described by webcast color man, Vaughan Blakey. Later in the day proper Pipe arrived, just as Surfline predicted. But first, Aussie expat turned North Shore transplant, Anthony Walsh and teenage phenom, Finn McGill, engaged in the most entertaining heat of the morning session.
Walsh, on his backhand at Backdoor, slipped into a deep runner under priority and locked in the best score of the day up to that point - a 9.43. But the kid from up the road began to build his heat.
"I started off the heat with just small scores, I knew it was going to be a matter of who got the best waves," said McGill. "So I really just wanted to start off with just a couple scores so I could really wait and look for the best waves."
That best wave came in the form of a double-chambered, dredging Backdoor pit that spat with ferocity. Afterward there was little debate - Perfect 10s across the board from the judging panel.
The 17-year-old is on a competitive roll, still just a few weeks removed from winning the World Junior Championship down in Australia, bringing home another World Title to the North Shore where it sits alongside his 2x World Champion winning neighbor, John John Florence.
"I feel like once you're on a roll, you're on a roll for a long time. Even if you do have one loss, it doesn't matter that much you still feel like you're on top of the world and you can do anything. I just feel that I'm on a roll right now and just feel really loose, going out into every heat I'm never nervous, it's such a cool feeling."
By around mid-day the weather shifted and the first precursors of a fresh WNW swell began feathering off the second reef, and Pipe began to really show her teeth. But the wind was looking dicey.
Up in the webcast booth Dave Wassel and Kaipo Guererro were showing off their meteorological chops, describing convection and other bits of weather-related nerd-speak to explain the rapidly-changing conditions.
Simply put, if the SW wind kicks up on the North Shore, you pray for the clouds to roll in and cool off the land, which in turn causes the wind to drop back off. And that's exactly what happened.
For Kelley it was the second fierce beat down to absorb in the matter of minutes. These are the difficult lessons to be learned by the many neophytes paying their dues at a wave that shows little mercy -- neither to vet nor newbie. Early rounds of the Volcom Pipe Pro often feature sharp, heat-by-heat contrasts in experience.
Such is the yin and yang of the Banzai.
Just few heats later, many of the best surfers ever to launch themselves over the ledge at Pipeline paddled out for the Volcom Last Chance Qualifier heat (VLCQ). And it didn't take long for a three-horse race to emerge between Jamie O'Brien, Kalani Chapman and Derek Ho.
It was close for much of the "best wave wins," no priority rules clash, but O'Brien went on one of his notorious blinders and posted multiple 9-point rides to seal the heat.
"It's pretty much just cat and mouse out there and I kind of got my rhythm and it just didn't stop," said a relieved O'Brien. "It kept delivering wave after wave, I got four really fun waves. That was pretty much a dream heat and there were only eight guys out there, I got lucky.
"I'm really stoked I'm in Round Three, I actually forgot to enter the contest even though I live right here," admitted O'Brien after his win. "I was kind of jaded I couldn't get into any of the WSL contests because of my point status, so thankfully they gave me a shot through the Volcom trials."
Be sure to check back in tomorrow for more action from the Volcom Pipe Pro at 7:30a.m. HST (9:30a.m. PST)
RESULTS Athletes listed in first through fourth, all surfers from Hawaii unless otherwise noted.
Round 3 (Round of 96) - 1st and 2nd advance, 3rd = 65th place, 4th = 81st place
H1: Joshua Burke (BRB), John Mel (USA), Kaito Kino, Matthew McGillivray (ZAF)
H2: Billy Kemper, Kyle Ramey, Liam O'Brien (AUS), Love Hodel
H3: Cody Young, Noa Mizuno, Makuakai Rothman, Skip McCullough (USA)
H4: Dwight Pastrana (USA), Manuel Selman (CHL), Ryland Rubens (USA), Facundo Arreyes (ARG)
Volcom Last Chance Qualifiers - 1st place advances into Round 3
1st: Jamie O'Brien (HAW)
Round 2 (Round of 128) - 1st and 2nd advance, 3rd = 97th, 4th = 113th
H3: Makuakai Rothman, Ryland Rubens, Miguel Blanco (PRT), Sean Woods (USA)
H4: Facundo Arreyes (ARG), Noa Mizuno, Jhonny Corzo (MEX), Christopher Kervin (USA)
H5: Evan Valiere, Alonso Correa (PER), Jason Shibata, Colt Ward (USA)
H6: Olamana Eleogram, Hank Gaskell, Kai Lenny, Kaimana Jaquias
H7: Ulualoha Napeahi, Jacome Correia (PRT), Martin Jeri (PER), Tristan Guilbaud (FRA)
H8: Yage Araujo (BRA), Luke Gordon (USA), Kainehe Hunt, Logan Bediamol
H9: Sunny Garcia, Harley Ross (AUS), Luke Shepardson, Kekoa Cazimero
H10: Joaquin Del Castillo (PER), Ian Walsh, Andrew Jacobson (USA), Joh Azuchi (JPN)
H11: Finn McGill, Anthony Walsh, Charly Quivront (FRA), Gabriel Morvil (USA)
H12: Koa Rothman, Brent Dorrington (AUS), Ezra Sitt, Kade Matson (USA)
H13: Keijiro Nishi (JPN), Lahiki Minamishen, Jake Kelley (USA), Bruce Irons
H14: Eithan Osborne (USA), Riley Laing (AUS), Eliott Napias (PYF), Eli Olson
H15: Kalani David, Noah Beschen, Keoni Yan, Cory Arrambide (USA)
H16: O'Neill Massin (PYF), Danny Fuller, Adrian Garcia, Shaun Burns (USA)