- WSL / Tony Heff

The race for the 2022 World Title blasted out of the blocks today with an epic Opening Round at the Billabong Pro Pipeline. The sentiment was universal from competitors, commentators and fans on the beach, the conditions at Pipe, especially in the afternoon, were absolutely dreamy.

"It's the kind of thing you drew when you were a kid," said South Africa's Jordy Smith, who posted the highest wave score of the day, a 9.73 for masterfully threaded Elimination Round barrel. Surfing with a broken toe, Smith reckoned the wave was one of the best he's ever ridden at Pipe.

With light trade winds and a perfectly angled west swell, the six- to eight-foot surf made for an intriguing start to the new Championship Tour season. Favorites like John John Florence, Jack Robinson and Seth Moniz set the pace early, and by the time things really turned on in afternoon, it was an all-out barrel fest.

Day 1 Highlights: All-Time Pipe And Excellent Scores At Billabong Pro Pipeline
Picture-perfect Pipe conditions made for some seriously epic performances on a dreamy opening day at the Billabong Pro Pipe.

Fresh off a win at the HIC Pipe Pro last month, two-time World Champion and the defending event winner Florence turned a slow start into a masterful performance with two big scores in the span of a few minutes. Florence weaved through insane closeout barrels and made unmakeable sections look easy to post a 17.13 heat total.

Florence's brother, Ivan was the victim of a slow heat in Round 1, but bounced back and won the first heat of the Elimination Round 2 against Lucca Mesinas and Morgan Cibilic.

"It's the best day ever", said Ivan Florence (HAW). "It's so perfect out there, I'm just trying to stay relaxed, focus on the next heat and have fun. I'd love to be in another heat with my brother, though. He is so inspiring, I love it!"

Day 1 Post Show: Florence, Robinson, Smith Set A High Bar At Classic Pipe
What the first day of the new 2022 Championship Tour season taught us.

Picking up where he left off at the end of last season, Jack Robinson put on an incredible show. Winning the Corona Open Mexico presented by Quiksilver to end his rookie season, in Round 1 of the Billabong Pro Pipeline he nailed two near-perfect 9+ scores.

"Watching the conditions, it's easy to get too excited today so I was just trying to calm down," Robinson said. "I'm trying to not think too far ahead and just enjoy every moment of competing out there."

Robinson face 11-time World Champion and the winningest surfer ever at Pipe, Kelly Slater, who advanced in second position with an 8-point ride in his scoreline.

HALEIWA, HAWAII - JANUARY 29: An empty wave during Heat 6 of the Opening Round at the Billabong Pro Pipeline on January 29, 2022 in Haleiwa, Hawaii. (Photo by Brent Bielmann/World Surf League) Perfection in the Pipeline lineup. - WSL / Brent Bielmann

"I'm just loving it," Slater said. "We're still in a heat out there so you have to work out the situation and in the end, I couldn't really go for it and get greedy on my barrels I just had to make them. Pipe's the queen today and we're just out there amongst it, what a day!"

Former Rookie of the Year and Pipeline local Seth Moniz was another standout in an action-packed first day of the season. The Hawaiian rode four beautiful waves in 30 minutes, his lowest score being a high six that would have made most other competitors envious in the challenging Pipe lineup. Moniz advanced in first ahead of Olympic silver medalist Kanoa Igarashi.

"I had the jitters watching all morning and didn't know what to expect," Moniz explained. "But as I got out there I was just there to have fun and the waves just turned on for our heat, it was pretty amazing. We've had a crazy run of swells the last few weeks and I've had a lot of practice, so I felt ready for this."

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Wildcards are always dangerous at Pipe and Barron Mamiya proved that yet again, dominating his heat against World No. 4 Conner Coffin and rookie Jake Marshall. In true wildcard fashion, Mamiya showed everyone why local surfers are major threats on their home turf, positioning himself into the best waves of the morning.

"The waves are firing and I'm just stoked to surf Pipeline again in an event," Mamiya said. "We have a crazy West swell and it's just so dreamy with perfect offshore winds. I grew up watching this event my whole entire life and this is the first year I'm actually in it. I've been surfing Pipeline since I was 10 and for sure I'd love to win it."

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