History was made as Tyler Wright earned the first women's Championship Tour win at surfing's ultimate proving ground, the Banzai Pipeline.
Besting Carissa Moore in the dramatic Final of the Maui Pro presented by ROXY at Pipeline, the significance of the moment was not lost on Wright, who continues to push the sport of surfing ever forward.
"I definitely don't take this for granted, to have this opportunity today is truly special," she said after getting back onto the beach.
Immediately following Wright's victory, it was John John Florence's time to step into the spotlight and make a little bit of history. Since 2008, when he was just 14 years old, Florence has only missed one Pipe Masters (in 2018 due to injury). He's finished runner-up twice, but otherwise, in those 11 years he has never gotten past the Quarterfinals.
That all changed today as he took out rival Gabriel Medina and topped the podium like he was summiting Everest.
"It feels so good to win, especially from that heat, that was a really hard heat. I'm stoked to win against Gabe, I feel like competing against him is why I want to compete," said Florence. "To win out here, I'm super stoked, I don't know what else to say."
Making History, Wright Wins First Women's Championship Tour Final At Pipeline
In the 1960s, Joyce Hoffman was recognized as the first woman to regularly surf Pipeline. And while there were surely other local women that predated her, the paddle-battle for inclusion in the lineup at the most infamous break in surfing has been going on for the better part of half a century. Today's performance by all the women that surfed Pipe is a monumental step forward that will undoubtedly set the stage for even greater things to come.
For Wright, it's obviously more than just another contest victory. She's launched into this season with the mantra, "Surfing is for everyone," and she's dead set on proving it most certainly is. It's an amazing thing to watch, and the more she wins, the more surfing as a whole wins.
Florence Earns Long-Sought Masters Victory
For Florence, today was a moment he's dreamed about all his life. In winning his first Pipe Masters trophy, he becomes the first surfer from Hawaii to take top honors since Andy Irons back in 2006.
From beginning to end, Florence was not to be denied. He was in rhythm all event, but it was the Semifinal against Kelly Slater that he really went next level. In the opening exchange, on two of the best Pipe waves of the day, Florence got the edge by one point. Then he went to work against the GOAT. He backed up his Pipe barrel with a calculated, fall-from-the-roof bomb at Backdoor. By heat's end, all Slater could do was drop in on the "grom" and try to steal some of the limelight.
Moore's Backdoor Bomb Was More Than Just Another Barrel
As far as the women's performances at Pipe today, Wright may have won the event, but Moore's performance won the day. Free falling into the pit at Backdoor, flying out behind the spit, Moore's 9-point ride in the Semifinals was one of the more poignant moments in professional surfing. No doubt it sets the bar for what's to come in the future, which knowing Moore, is a great consolation prize.
History Is Made In First Wome's CT Heat At Pipe
Paddling out together for their Quarterfinal duel that's been on hold since the women's contest moved from Maui to Oahu, Tatiana Weston-Webb and Sage Erickson broke the seal for the women's historic moment at Pipe. The heat came down to the last two waves, with Erickson finding some cover at Pipe and Weston-Webb taking it to turns. In the end, Weston-Webb edged out Erikson for a spot in the Semis.
"It's been an incredible opportunity that we've had," said Weston-Webb. "I just wanna do women's surfing proud and I wanna get barreled at Pipe."
"I think this day is a long time coming," added big-wave pioneer Keala Kennelly, calling into the webcast. "I think that every one of these women, if I can find the word, is capable. They're all capable if they have the opportunities."
Ferreira Shows His True Grit
Going down on wave at Backdoor at the start of the Quarters, Ferreira found himself bruised and bloodied after hitting the reef. Sustaining injuries to his head and hip, he gutted his way to a win against Pipe Master Jeremy Flores in the Quarters. At one point he ended up on the beach, supported by the Hawaiian water patrol, he was grimacing in pain and holding his ribs and hip.
After being seen by event medical staff, he rested, tried to recover a bit, and a few hours later paddled back out for his rematch against Medina. The two famously met last year in the Final at Pipe, but this time it was Medina taking the win. Nevertheless, with the heart of a lion, Ferreira's showed, once again, why he's the people's champ.
The Incomparable Timelessness Of Slater
This marks Slater's 28th Pipe Masters appearances, he has seven titles and has made 12 Finals appearances. And for some perspective, his much-anticipated clash with rookie Jack Robinson, Slater had already won five World Titles and four Pipe Masters before Robinson was even born.
Slater, who showed up to the beach limping after a bike injury he sustained last week and then re-aggravated at Pipe a couple days ago, jumped out early with a 6.50 left in the opening moments of the heat. Robinson countered with a 7.50, but never truly threatened Slater's lead.
"I was expecting him to get some big scores, I wanted to get a quick start," said Slater afterwards. "I wasn't planning on going left at all, I was looking strictly at the rights."
In the Quarters, he faced an in-form Jordy Smith, the surf never really materialized and Slater moved on in a low scoring affair. The last time somebody beat him in the Quarters was in 2015.
The Semifinals was a different story all together as Florence came out with his foot on the gas against the GOAT. Tallying the event's highest heat score, an 18.16. Nevertheless, Slater comes away from Pipe with a very respectable third-place result as he sets off on his quest for a record-setting 12th World Title this season.