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Wavescape - Surfing in South Africa

Tue, 12 December 2017

WSL Title contender Jordy Smith was a standout on the first day of the Billabong Pipeline Masters after two ridiculous tubes at Backdoor Pipeline gave him an easy ride to Round 3.

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A 9.93 WAVE: Miguel Pupo about to pull off an insane lefthand tube ride. Photo WSL / Poullenot

The peaky, barrelling 8-10' surf tapered off as a crosshore wind slowly started to mess with some epic rides at the The Billabong Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons, the final stop on the 2017 World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT) and the third gem of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing (VTCS).

For Jordy, an epic 8.67 combined with a 7.90 put the World No 3 firmly in the lead against Bede Durbidge (AUS) and Ethan Ewing (AUS) based on two Backdoor barrels that he managed to thread through, the first a delayed foamball number that had the crowd going moggy when he finally exited.

“I don't really get too deep into the pressure," said Smith, "and quite frankly it really boils down to those two guys (Florence and Medina) losing out early, but you never know. If they wobble then I'll put my head down and give it a go."

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TWO-TUBE SMITH: Jordy threaded through two tight Backdoor tubes. Photo WSL / Cestari

Another notable tube was Migeul Pupo (BRA) in Heat 5 against countryman Gabriel Medina and Pipe Invitational runner-up Benji Brand, who was on fire to take and maintain the lead well into the heat. Pupo, who is battling for requalification next year, did not favour Medina when he moved into 2nd with a near-perfect 9.93, the highest single-wave score of the event so far.

Pupo's winning wave came from a late takeoff into a cavernous Pipeline barrel and narrow exit when he shot out with the spit and banked sharply to miss the falling lip of a closeout. Medina had a few uncharateristic wipeouts but put up a solid 8.50 on a tubing left, but Pupo stole the show.

Two of the four world title contenders must now surf in Round 2 elimination heats, Medina and Wilson.

No 1 on the Jeep Leaderboard John John Florence (HAW) started his world title campaign with a busy performance as he quickly racked up medium scores for a solid 13.50 to take top position over Pipe Invitational winner Dusty Payne (HAW) and Brazil's Wiggolly Dantas (BRA). Wearing the Jeep Leader Jersey, Florence looked confident and in rhythm at his home break. He and Jordy go through to Round 3.

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KEEPING BUSY: John John didn't score big, but kept busy for his win. Photo WSL / Poullenot

Conner Coffin (USA), No 21 on the Jeep Leaderboard on the requalification bubble, needs a strong result to solidify his place in 2018. Coffin looked on track with a Round 1 win over WSL title contender Julian Wilson (AUS) and Stu Kennedy (AUS). Wilson, No. 4, suffered an interference penalty that put him into the Round 2 elimination, while an injured Kennedy looked like he was struggling.

Wilson, 2014 Billabong Pipe Master could claim his maiden world title with an event win but must first negotiate a tricky Round 2 heat against Regional Champion Benji Brand (HAW).

Eleven-time WSL Champion and 7X Billabong Pipe Master Kelly Slater (USA) made a triumphant return to competition today, wearing the jersey for the first time since July when he injured his foot in Jeffreys Bay, South Africa.

2010 Pipe Master Jeremy Flores (FRA) opened the day with a win over Jadson Andre (BRA) and Matt Wilkinson (AUS) in Round 1. The lower-scoring heat saw Flores post a 10.17 combined score for the win and the opportunity to skip straight to Round 3. Hawaiian Ezekiel Lau (HAW) used his home court advantage to take down competitors Filipe Toledo (BRA) and Michel Bourez (PYF) in Heat 9, the final matchup of the day, with a combined two-wave score of 10.50.

More info at www.WorldSurfLeague.com

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OU BALLIE BARREL: Kelly Slater is back after his injury at J-Bay. Photo WSL / Poullenot

Billabong Pipe Masters Round 1 Results
 Heat 1: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 10.17, Jadson Andre (BRA) 6.33, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 4.67
Heat 2: Josh Kerr (AUS) 12.17, Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 6.10, Owen Wright (AUS) 3.37
Heat 3: Conner Coffin (USA) 10.56, Julian Wilson (AUS) 6.57, Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 1.50
Heat 4: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 16.57, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 11.43, Ethan Ewing (AUS) 3.00
Heat 5: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 14.83, Benji Brand (HAW) 12.64 Gabriel Medina (BRA) 12.43
Heat 6: John John Florence (HAW) 13.50, Dusty Payne (HAW) 6.83, Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 5.63
Heat 7: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 12.83, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 11.27, Jack Freestone (AUS) 7.04
Heat 8: Kelly Slater (USA) 12.47, Joan Duru (FRA) 11.90, Kolohe Andino (USA) 7.60
Heat 9: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 10.50, Filipe Toledo (BRA) 2.00, Michel Bourez (PYF) 2.00

Billabong Pipe Masters Remaining Round 1 Match-Ups
Heat 10: Sebastian Zietz (HAW), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Ian Gouveia (BRA)
Heat 11: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Connor O’Leary (AUS), Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA)
Heat 12: Mick Fanning (AUS), Frederico Morais (PRT), Italo Ferreira (BRA)

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