With the green light to get back in the water, the Billabong Pipe Masters presented by Hydro Flask got underway today and there was no shortage of drama. From World Champs rolling, to upsets, to some serious gut-check performances, it was a busy day. But when the spray finally settled, these are some of the big storylines to emerge from the Pipeline:
World Champs Remain Steady In Turbulent Waters
John John Florence was the only World Champ of the day to surf twice, and in his bid to capture his first Pipe Masters win, he looked, well, right at home. Threading an impossible barrel at Backdoor early in the day for an 8-point ride, he cruised to an easy win against Connor O'Leary. Then, in the Round of 16, he put the breaks on rookie Matthew McGillivray's run to earn himself a spot in the Quarterfinals where he will face Leonardo Fioravanti.
Italo Ferreira, Gabriel Medina and Kelly Slater were also winners on the day. Ferreira hasn't been dominant in his outings, but he's been getting the job done. Slater copped a beating in his heat, but an old hat at Pipe, he advanced on. And then there's Medina, who showed why he's got the highest winning percentage at Pipe out of anybody on Tour.
It's Upsets Galore As Top Seeds Sent Packing
There was no mercy for the top seeds at unruly Pipe today. It started with Filipe Toledo's sleepy performance against a surging Fioravanti, who's been on a hot one lately.
Rookie Matthew McGillivray showed that he's ready for prime time, taking out local favorite Seth Moniz. A few heats later, another rookie, Jack Robinson, blew past perennial World Title contender Julian Wilson in the performance of the day. Then, before the Round of 32 ended, Miguel Pupo handed future American Olympian Kolohe Andino his walking papers.
Jack Robinson Lives Up To The Hype
We've all been waiting to see what Robinson is capable of against the world's best at Pipe, and turns out, he's capable of a hell of a lot. Dropping a 17-point heat score, the highest of the day, the rookie has positioned himself as one of the surfers to beat.
When the comp resumes, Robinson will face off against Slater in an epic generational clash. In his 30 years on Tour, Slater's become notorious for taking out any and all generations. From the late '80s/early '90s scene with Martin Potter and Barton Lynch, to his own Momentum Generation, to Andy Irons and Mick Fanning, all the way to Florence and Medina, can Robinson finally halt the GOAT's run?
California Bumming As The Golden State Boys Go Down
For those surf fans from California, today was not a good day. Not only did Andino get knocked out, but so did Griffin Colapinto and Conner Coffin. All three had high hopes of doing some damage at Pipe and making it deep into the event, but after some impressive warm-up sessions, they found themselves making an early exit from the event.
Don't Sleep On Two-Time Pipe Master Jeremy Flores
"I don't like surfing against good people, I'd rather surf against people I don't like," Flores laughed after the heat.
Keep an eye on Flores, he may not have been in the spotlight going into the event, but he's capable of doing a lot of damage.