The 2021 Billabong Pipe Masters presented by Hydro Flask marked the 50th running of the historic event on the North Shore of Oahu. The event took place under unprecedented circumstances during the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in a host of safety protocols and a digital-only event.
Despite the unique challenges surfers and event staff faced, the event will forever be remembered as John John Florence's long-awaited, and much deserved first Pipe Masters victory.
For Florence, winning the Pipe Masters was a moment he's dreamed about all his life. In winning his first Pipe Masters trophy, he became 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.
Florence then went on to take down 2018 Pipe Master, Gabriel Medina. Florence surfed the Final with precision only a surfer who grew up at Pipe could possess. Though the highest score of the final was a 6.67 put up by Medina, Florence closed things out in the dying minutes with a sneaky insider at Backdoor.
"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."