Tue, 20 December 2016
The pro surf season is over after sublime tube riding saw Tahitian Michel Bourez win the Billabong Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons, the final stop on the 2016 WSL Championship Tour.
Bourez defeated rookie Kanoa Igarashi (USA) in the Final, making it the best result of the season for him and only the second time that the Tahitian has made it into a final this year. Victory today also marks the third CT victory of his career. Bourez earns himself 10,000 points and finishes the 2016 season in 6th place on the Jeep Leaderboard.
Enroute to the Final, Igarashi took down Jordy Smith in the Quarterfinals. The heat saw a Backdoor shootout as both surfers escaped massive barrels. Igarashi weaved his way through an incredible tube to earn a near-perfect 9.93 and an excellent 8.10. Smith was close behind with a 7.57 and 8.17, but fell short of advancing to the Semifinals. The South African finishes the year as runner-up on the Jeep Leaderboard after his 5th place finish at the Billabong Pipe Masters.
“We come here to get barreled and that is what happened,” Smith said. “He [Kanoa Igarashi] just got more barreled than I did. I think it just came down to that one last score. I gave him that wave on the inside that apparently just kept funneling across. The wave looked very small to me when I paddled in, but apparently he got nice and deep. To be honest, all around it has been an amazing year for me. This time last year I did not expect to be here and I just came fresh off an injury. To finish in second is amazing.“
Bourez was stoked to win. “I’m just happy to be here. Last year I got injured and it was really tricky and tough for me to come back. I almost dropped off tour. I worked really hard at home and tried to stay positive the whole time. I had my baby after Portugal, so I had to travel back and forth during Europe, which was tough."
Bourez, who previously dispatched Kolohe Andino (USA), John John Florence (HAW) and Filipe Toledo (BRA) before taking on Igarashi in the Final, can add a win at Pipeline to previous wins at Haleiwa and Sunset. Only Derek Ho and Andy Irons have also achieved this feat.
“John [Florence] is incredible,” said Bourez. “I’ve lost the Triple Crown twice because of him so that was a little payback. I knew I had to push my level even higher to beat John so that’s what I did. We had such a good day today - Backdoor was pumping and I’m stoked. This is the biggest event to win for a surfer and I did it!”
The Final match-up saw slower conditions but a dramatic finish, as Bourez took the win over Igarashi by only 1.36 points. Bourez was quick to post scores and settled for a 5.00 early in the heat. Igarashi waited until the five minute warning to make his first move, a combination maneuver for a 4.17. With Bourez holding priority, Igarashi snuck in a 2.00 barrel ride in the dying minutes of the heat. Bourez secured his win with a 2.53 at the buzzer, leaving no time for Igarashi to respond.
In his first Pipe Masters appearance, Igarashi has set the bar for the 2017 rookies. At 19-years-old, Igarashi is the youngest competitor on the CT and made a splash this season. Today’s runner-up finish marks Igarashi’s best result this year after a run of 13th place finishes on tour and a 9th at the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast. Igarashi took down 11-time WSL Champion Kelly Slater (USA) and Smith before facing Bourez in the Final. Igarashi moves up to 20th on the rankings.
“This is a dream come true,” said Igarashi. “To be in that Final with Michel [Bourez] was really cool. It is something I will never forget. The one moment that really stands out to me is in the Semifinals with Kelly [Slater]. I kind of rubbed the heat off and he was in his rhythm. A big set came in that closed out everywhere and I thought that was going to be my last chance. Right at the end, this crazy wave out of nowhere came in. I laughed because I did not believe it. I stalled as hard as I could and once I came out I fell into shock. I am really proud of myself and cannot wait for next year.”
A nail-biting Semifinal match-up witnessed the rookie take down Slater, the ultimate CT veteran. Slater looked unstoppable with an excellent 8.10 on his opening ride and solid 6.90.
Needing an excellent 8.83, Igarashi sat patiently with priority. With time winding down, it looked to be Slater in the Final. In the last thirty seconds, a set out the back lined up perfectly for Igarashi whose Hail Mary barrel ride earned him the required score, an 8.83, to advance to the Finals.
Billabong Pipe Masters Final Results
1: Michel Bourez (PYF) 7.53
2: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 6.17
Billabong Pipe Masters Semifinal Results
SF 1: Michel Bourez (PYF) 15.37 def. Kolohe Andino (USA) 13.93
SF 2: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 15.50 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 15.00
Billabong Pipe Masters Quarterfinal Results
QF 1: Kolohe Andino (USA) 14.87 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 12.67
QF 2: Michel Bourez (PYF) 17.20 def. John John Florence (HAW) 14.00
QF 3: Kelly Slater (USA) 11.50 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 10.24
QF 4: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 18.03 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 15.74
Billabong Pipe Masters Round 5 Results
Heat 1: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 15.17 def. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 4.53
Heat 2: Michel Bourez (PYF) 16.80 def. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 15.50
Heat 3: Kelly Slater (USA) 14.34 def. Ryan Callinan (AUS) 10.17
Heat 4: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 18.10 def. Nat Young (USA) 16.17
Billabong Pipe Masters Round 4 Results
Heat 1: Kolohe Andino (USA) 13.66, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 10.16, Filipe Toledo (BRA) 5.00
Heat 2: John John Florence (HAW) 11.00, Michel Bourez (PYF) 9.17, Joel Parkinson (AUS) 8.83
Heat 3: Josh Kerr (AUS) 9.24, Ryan Callinan (AUS) 2.77, Nat Young (USA) 1.57
Heat 4: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 12.00, Jordy Smith (ZAF) 11.34, Kelly Slater (USA) 2.24
Billabong Pipe Masters Round 3 Results
Heat 12: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 15.34 def. Alex Ribeiro (BRA) 1.93
Top 5 on the WSL Jeep Leaderboard (after Billabong Pipe Masters)
1. John John Florence (HAW) 59,850 pts
2. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 46,400 pts
3. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 45,450 pts
4. Kolohe Andino (USA) 44,150 pts
5. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 39,500 pts