Hawaiian Joshua Moniz just became the fifth surfer in nine years to win the prestigious Volcom Pipe Pro in perfect conditions at Pipeline today. Following wild and unruly, maxed-out conditions yesterday, a slowly waning WNW swell still pumped out double-to-triple overhead waves throughout Finals day.
In the Final, 2010 Volcom Pipe Pro Champ Jamie O'Brien wasted little time jumping out to an early lead, threading a deep tube to set the pace. But Moniz answered back, double-pumping a long barrel on his backhand to score an 8.83. But the man they call J.O.B. was far from finished. He scored a perfect 10 on a double-tube that may have been the best Pipe wave of the entire event.
The Final was a two-man show nearly from the get-go, the other two Finalists -- Cam Richards and Weslley Dantas -- were still comboed (needing two new scores to catch up) with just six minutes left in the heat. Then, with under five minutes remaining, Moniz found the backup wave he needed -- a dreamy, glassy Pipe behemoth -- and posted another high eight. It was enough to surpass O'Brien, just barely, winning by the slimmest of margins: 17.56 to 17.43.
Whether his win was motivated by payback for his older brother Seth, who was recently beaten out for first first prize by O'Brien at the Da Hui Backdoor Shootout, or a dramatic birthday gift for his sister, pro surfer Kelia Moniz, Josh did Hawaii proud -- surfing with power, style and precision.
The Moniz family is a well-known clan on the North Shore, opening their home and hosting traveling surfers from around the globe. There's no doubt this victory for Josh will mean as much to the North Shore local community, and their extended family abroad, as it will to his mom, dad, brothers and sister.
Moniz will immediately jump to the No. 1 spot on the Qualifying Series (QS) rankings, which will provide a useful sense of momentum as he heads out onto the 2018 QS grind. He's well coached up by two North Shore legends, his father, Tony, and Rainos Hayes, who's work with the entire Billabong team cannot go overlooked. Now holding a high seed into the biggest QS events, Moniz will be looking to duplicate the template his good buddy Griffin Colapinto used last year to storm his way onto the 2018 Championship Tour.
For a disappointed but not defeated O'Brien, this is the second time in recent history where he's had a victory ripped from his grasp in the waning minutes of a Volcom Pipe Pro Final. Already a Pipe legend, he took the loss in stride, but it had to sting. Especially considering he'd found a way to peak at the right moment, in the Final, despite having to surf through the Last Chance Qualifier Heat (he would have had a much better seed into the draw, but he forgot to send in his entry form), and the rest of the grueling early rounds, just to get to this point.
It's not all bad for J.O.B. He's got his brand new home right behind the Volcom house at Pipeline, and he's still one of the greatest Pipe surfers in history. Next time, though, he'll need to ask Siri to remind him to send in his registration form.
Next up for the 2018 QS: the all-important Australia Leg, including two QS 6,000s, the Burton Automotive Pro which will run February 19 - 25, and the Vissla Sydney Surf Pro which will run February 26 - March 4.