One of everyone's favorite events on the Qualifying Series schedule, the Volcom Pipe Pro is almost here. A sneak peak of the long range surf forecast for the North Shore looks like there is going to be no shortage of options when it comes to swell. There appears to be a lengthy run of northwest energy heading for Pipe, so with waves on the way, who are some of the favorites to keep an eye on when the contest gets underway?
With 144 surfers in the draw, there is no shortage of storylines to pursue. From upstart locals to hopeful QS warriors, everyone wants a piece of Pipe, or at least the opportunity to surf out there with just a couple other guys out, but amongst all of the talent in the lineup there are a few names that stand out as potentials to win the whole thing. Here are some of them:
Seth Moniz Last year it was brother Josh atop the podium, could Seth Moniz be the next in the family to win the Pipe Pro? Why not? The Hawaiian is carrying all the confidence and support in the world right now. Gearing up for his CT debut this spring, a big showing at Pipe could give him enough momentum to slingshot him into a truly special rookie season. Last time we saw Moniz in a jersey at Pipe he was giving World Champ Gabriel Medina a run for his money. He may have lost the Round 3 heat, but he proved himself worthy of competition at the most elite level. With the run of the Billabong house just down the sand from Pipe, Moniz will be comfortable, well-supported and looking to make a statement at the Pipe Pro.
Jack Robinson Jack Robinson is due for a big, breakout result. He's simply too good in waves of consequence not to contend for a Pipe Pro title this year. Recently turning 21 years old, he's graduated to adulthood and a statement-making performance in Hawaii is just what he needs to kick off the next chapter of his life. He already has years of North Shore experience under his belt, has tons of natural talent, and is well respected by all the top players. Now all he needs to do is go out and win something.
Cam Richards After what we saw from Cam Richards at Pipe earlier this year, all bets are off when it comes to what he's capable of in this contest. Threading the needle on a triple-section tube riding a gun shaped by his dad, it was one of the most memorable moments of the winter. Much like predecessors Kelly Slater, Cory Lopez and CJ and Damien Hobgood, Richards is one of those classic East Coast stories of a kid that was raised on small, mushy surf and has grown up into a legit tube hound. He finished 4th at the Pipe Pro in 2018, the best result of the year for him.
Barron Mamiya Barron Mamiya is one of the leaders of the next generation of Hawaiians to rise up and dominate Pipe. At only 18 years old, he has a bright future ahead of him. But why wait? All evidence points to him being fired up and ready to go now. Growing up on the North Shore, Mamiya's got the local knowledge, is well liked and respected in the community, and has been getting properly pipped all winter long. Not afraid to push over the ledge on thick double-ups, he was a stand-out at the recent Da Hui Backdoor Shootout. The Pipe Pro is a prime opportunity for him to put it all together and let the surf world know exactly who he is and what he's all about.
Mason Ho The entertainer. Seeing Mason Ho win the Pipe Pro in bombing conditions on a 7'6" pintail (or 5'2" fish) would be epic. Every event Ho surfs in he's the fan favorite, but contests at Pipe are a little different. They're a source of family pride. Father Michael and uncle Derek are among two of the accomplished Pipe surfers in the history of the break, and lately Derek has been out getting some good ones. The Ho family vibes are good, Mason's always got a great board under is arm, and no doubt he'll put his own stamp on the Pipe Pro this year.
Dusty Payne Dusty Payne is back and he's looking to make some moves in 2019. After nearly dying at Pipe a year ago, he's rebounded with force. Over the course of his career Payne's had tremendous success at Pipe, and if he's going to surf himself into a good rhythm and head space he can make tremendous strides at Pipe. "I've had enough time away from competition and I'm ready to go," Payne recently told the WSL. "After surfing in the Invitational, it was challenging but I'm looking forward to this one. I'm just happy to be healthy and my goal this year is to give myself a fighting chance at qualifying at the end of the season."
Anthony Walsh Currently the last seed in the draw, Anthony Walsh might be the most accomplished tuberider out of anybody in the whole contest. Paid by GoPro to travel around the world and get radical clips of radical waves, it'd be hard to argue that anyone has documented themselves in the green room as much as he has. Friendly and easy going, he may lack the competitive fire to win the Pipe Pro, but if it's thick and slabbing on the Banzai reef, there's no question Walshy's pulling in.