BY JODI WILMOTT – Banzai Pipeline, Oahu, HAWAII –– Continuing a week straight of power-packing surf on Oahu’s North Shore, the lineup for day one of the Volcom Pipe Pro consisted of severely stressed surfboards and wave-battered competitors ready to do it all again.
By day’s end, more than a dozen surfboards were interred into the Banzai surfboard graveyard and an unheard of Brazilian stole the show in his debut event. The Volcom Pipe Pro is a $120,000 5 star ASP rated event, held today in wave heights of up to 15 feet (wave face value).
This event is famous for launching names onto the global surf radar. Several years back it was Australian charger Mark Mathews; last year it was North Carolina surfer Brett “gnarly” Barley. Today belonged to Dennis Tihara, a 25-year-old from Bahia, Brazil, who posted the highest heat score of the day: 17.4 points out of 20.
Tihara has surfed Pipe before, but has never competed here. He was a young man possessed as he systematically found his way into the best barrels of the day, edging past top shelf local Pipeline talent the likes of Kamalei Alexander and Reef McIntosh. Tihara emerged after two back-to-back, deep tuberides with scores of 7.5 and 9.9, each out of a possible 10. Credit to McIntosh, his final scoreline was right on Tihara’s heels: 17.27 points.
“I’m surprised!” said Tihara. “I made a 10 point ride in Puerto Escondido (Mexico) last month, so I wanted to make that happen again here at Pipeline because this is such a good wave. It’s my first time competing here. I just came here three times before, now it’s my first contest, so I really want to make good of the heats.”
Australian Anthony Walsh (Lennox Head) was the lone Australian to make it through the early round action today that saw Sydney’s Mark Mathews surprisingly bundled out. Walsh advanced to the third round where higher seeds Heath Joske and Dean Morrison will enter the fray. Morrison was happy to get a day off after injuring his hip surfing Pipe yesterday.
Walsh’s best wave made it into the day’s top three: a 9.3 for a long, clean exit barrel. He was happy with the result given that it came with a borrowed surfboard.
“I snapped all of my boards this past week,” said Walsh, 27, through a lip busted by one of his snapped surfboards. “I had really good boards from Gunther Rohn but then I go and break them all, so thankfully I was able to borrow a board from Tokoro.
” A lot of Aussies come here over the winter and everyone loves these waves. To come here and get barreled when it’s crappy summer surf at home feels good. For me, I’m just doing the events I like to keep my (ratings) points up so I can do events like this. My main goal is to win this and qualify to get into the Pipe Masters. I’ve been coming here for about 12 years. The very first surf I had here was about 12-foot and I was hooked ever since.”
Other standouts today included Gabriel Villaran (Peru), Angelo Lozano (Mexico), Dane Gudauskas (San Clemente, CA), Alex Gray (CA), and Jesse Merle-Jones (Hawaii). Entering the draw in the next round will be former Pipe master Bruce Irons and defending event champion Jamie O’Brien, both from Hawaii.
The swell is forecast to hold into tomorrow and organizers will assess the conditions at 7am for a possible 8am start.
The Volcom Pipe Pro is being broadcast live on the internet as well as live around Hawaii on Oceanic Time Warner Cable digital channels 250 & 1250HD. A full report and VNR will be available at the end of today’s action.
An Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) 5-star international event, the Volcom Pipe Pro will be held on the three biggest and best days of surf between January 24 and February 5, 2011.
The 2011 Volcom Pipe Pro has partnered with Surfline.com as the official contest forecaster, along with Electric Visual, Transworld Surf and Fuel TV.
Round 1. 1st & 2nd advance. 3rd=97th; 4th=105th
Competitors listed in order of placing, 1st through 4th
- H1: Keito Matsuoka (JPN); Kaimana Jaquias (HI); Parker Coffin (USA); Landon McNamara (HI)
- H2: Ezra Sitt (HI); Reef McIntosh (HI); Nick Vasicek (AUS); Cheyne Willis (HI)
- H3: Keanu Asing (HI); Love Hodel (HI); Naohisa Ogawa (JPN); Tanner Hendrickson (USA)
- H4: Brett Barley (USA); Alexander Gray (USA); Takayuki Wakita (JPN); Edrick Baldwin (HI)
- H5: Aamion Goodwin (HI); Ezekiel Lau (HI); Kawai Lindo (HI); Charlie Carroll (HI)
- H6: Derek Ho (HI); Sion Milosky (HI); Dylan Southworth (MEX); Dylan Goodale (HI)
- H7: Jonah Morgan (HI); Mark Healey (HI); Gavin Beschen (USA); David Giddings (USA)
- H8: Matthew Bromley (ZAF); Stephen Koehne (HI); Kaupena Miranda (HI); David Wassel (HI)
Round 2. 1st & 2nd advance. 3rd=65th; 4th=81st
- H1: Anthony Walsh (AUS); Solomon Ortiz (HI); Matt Pagan (USA); Keito Matsuoka (JPN)
- H2: Gabriel Villaran (PER); Brad Ettinger (USA); Mark Mathews (AUS); Kaimana Jaquias (HI)
- H3: Cory Arrambide (USA); Jason Shibata (HI); Oliver Kurtz (USA); Ezra Sitt (HI)
- H4: Dennis Tihara (BRZ); Reef McIntosh (HI); Kamalei Alexander (HI); Abdel El Harim (MAR)
- H5: Angelo Lozano (MEX); Dane Gudauskas (USA); Keanu Asing (HI); Gavin Gillette (HI)
- H6: Jesse Merle-Jones (HI); Dimitri Ouvre; Kolohe Andino (USA); Love Hodel (HI)
- H7: Damien Fahrenfort (ZAF); Tyler Newton (HI); Brett Barley (USA); Ryan Arthur (USA)
- H8: Alexander Gray (USA); Danny Fuller (HI); Hank Gaskell (HI); David Rutherford (MEX)
- H9: Ricky Whitlock (USA); Aamion Goodwin (HI); Myles Padaca (HI); Alex Smith (HI)