In the early goings of the Volcom Pipe Pro men's Qualifying Series (QS) 3,000-level event, the best conditions typically lined up toward the end of day. It was only fitting that the best day of the event landed on Finals day and Jack Robinson commanded his way to a maiden warrior's helmet trophy.
Pristine, 6-to-8 foot (10-foot plus wave faces), WNW swell filled in Tuesday. The 21-year-old fulfilled a part of his destiny with this victory, known for charging waves of consequence from a young age at his home of Western Australia.
"I'm on top of the world, couldn't have more confidence to start the year off with a win here -- it's about as good as it gets," Robinson said. "It's the hardest contest all year. If a wave comes it comes. You have to be so on to win this contest. You can do all the preparation in the world to be ready, but if the wave doesn't come to you then you're left on the outside looking in."
An early start for Robinson garnered him a 7.00 (out of a possible 10) before Mamiya topped that with a 7.50. Heazlewood got in the mix with an excellent 8.00 to take the lead, but Robinson was quick to respond and threw himself over the ledge on a Backdoor bomb to post a 7.87 and ultimately claim the victory. Now, Robinson looks to carry this momentum into the rest of 2019.
"Thank you to everyone for coming out and supporting me," Robinson added. "I couldn't do this without my dad, my friends, my girlfriend -- all the local boys here. I feel confident and just want to get to the World Tour already," Robinson added. "That's where I'm meant to be I feel. It's going to be a lot of hard work to get there, but it's time."
Mamiya Almost Keeps Event Title on North Shore,
Runner-up Barron Mamiya posted a unanimous 10 en route to his terrific finish and set himself up for a big year on the QS. The 19-year-old also earned the "Life in the Bowl" award for best barrel with that Backdoor perfection. It marks a great start for the young, upcoming QS threat as he has his goals set high heading into a full season -- his first full-time year away from the Pro Juniors.
"I think I had a great day even though I didn't win, obviously I wanted to, but I had three really great heats that I'm really excited about," Mamiya said. "Pipeline is a very special wave to me and I've always studied the best guys out here like John (John Florence), Jamie (O'Brien), and Kelly (Slater), and I just want to surf like them out here. Last year I had a hard time and I didn't make any heats really, but this is a big confidence booster and I'll look to keep backing this up."
Heazlewood's Fuel to the Fire
Starting the year off with a bang, Reef Heazlewood is also on the watchlist for 2019 threats and proved it today with a third-place finish -- while taking down defending event champion Joshua Moniz in the Quarterfinals. The young Australian was relentless in powering through tougher heats, and earned the highest single-wave score of the Final. Now, the Australian plans for a big run at home with two QS 6,000-level events on the horizon, along with another QS 3,000.
"Just kept getting through and thinking, one more heat, one more heat," Heazlewood said. "Then the next thing I know I'm in the Final. It felt like just another heat, but with the best guys out there which was awesome -- couldn't have wanted anything less. It was just beautiful conditions and to spend so much time out there was awesome. I can't believe that it's worked out this way and now I just want to keep it rolling throughout the year."
Volcom Gets Its First Finalist: Stack Delivers
One of Pipeline's most notable winter season chargers, Balaram Stack, made his first-ever QS Final in dynamic fashion with a buzzer-beater in the Semifinals to join eventual third-place finisher Reef Heazlewood. The Final didn't quite come together for the New York, N.Y., born-and-raised surfer, but it was a dream come true for Stack to represent.
"This was beyond any of my expectations and it's crazy just having everyone here for my first Final," Stack said. "It's my favorite wave in the world and you couldn't ask for much more. I'm taking this home forever. Right when I was going down for the heat every time, all the boys just yelling was probably the best part (laughs)."
Todd Chesser Award Presented to Kalani David
Finishing off notable moments, one of North Shore, Oahu's, own earned the prestigious Todd Chesser Charger of the Event Award, presented by the late Chesser's beloved mother Jeannie for showing heart and remaining humble both in and out of the water while putting on a great display of surfing. David started in Round 1 of the event and fell just two heats shy of the Final after a dominating performance throughout the event.
"I don't even know what to say, this is even bigger for me than winning the event," David said. "Todd was always a household name for all of us and just to win this, I'm honestly shaken. This is insane."