Aamion Goodwin of Kauai was among the Hawaii surfers to advance in the Monster Energy Pipeline Pro yesterday.
Pipe loaded for Monster final day
Hawaii's Sullivan, Barca, Goodwin and others are still in the chase to win the WQS event
Most people would consider surfing at the Banzai Pipeline a death wish. But there are those who consider it the opportunity of a lifetime.
Some of the world's best professional surfers seized theirs yesterday on the second of three competition days for the 22nd annual Monster Energy Pipeline Pro.
And the famed break on Oahu's North Shore didn't disappoint, offering up heavy waves with faces that averaged 12- to 16-feet and reached even higher on the sets. The last six heats of the second round and 12 of 16 heats of the third were completed.
"Pipeline being the premier wave in the world, I would never miss an opportunity to compete out here," said Pupukea's Pancho Sullivan, the defending champion who was greatly helped by last year's win at this World Qualifying Series event. "It's very cut-throat, strong competition. You see phenomenal surfing going on in this event, definitely comparable to the Pipeline Masters of the WCT. To me, this is a great opportunity to get ready for the end of this month and the start of the WCT."
The 32-year-old Sullivan, one of 45 surfers on the elite World Championship Tour, was seeded directly into the third round and nearly got bounced from the event just as he was getting started, as only the top two surfers advance from each heat.
Outside of the top two for most of his 25-minute, four-man heat, Sullivan was able to nab 5.33 (out of a maximum of 10 points) and 5.03 wave scores in the final 3 minutes and jump into second place just before it ended, qualifying for the Pipeline Pro's final day.
"In an early round like this, you don't have to have the heat of the contest," Sullivan said. The key is "just getting through, giving yourself another chance and building some momentum.
"It's important to peak at the right time. If the scores aren't there and I only need a small margin at the end, I feel confident that I can produce a score out of a mediocre wave. That's what I was trying to do."
Kauai's Dustin Barca won the heat with 13.33 total points for his top two waves and advanced as well. A regular Pipeline standout, Barca surfed his way into the main event of the Pipeline Masters two months ago.
Also from Kauai, Aamion Goodwin won his loaded, all-Hawaii third-rounder with 15.13 total points -- the second-highest heat score of the day. Goodwin received a 6.63 on his last wave of the heat -- a successful barrel ride through a 14-foot Pipeline left -- and jumped into and secured first place with the score.
Waialua's Sean Moody (12.73 total) had been leading, but settled for second and also advanced. Former Triple Crown champ Myles Padaca (12.33) placed third by only four-tenths of a point, and Pipeline specialist Marcus Hickman (11.97) was relegated to fourth by an even slimmer margin.
"It's kind of a gut feeling" at this size and in these conditions at Pipeline, said Goodwin, 27. "You kinda gotta feel if it's a good (wave) or not, and then hope you don't get caught inside.
"The competition is crazy and everyone surfs so good out here, you really just have to be lucky and pick the right waves. I feel really fortunate."
With the current swell and conditions, the Pipeline Pro will likely conclude today, though it has a waiting period that extends to Friday.
Some of the other Hawaii surfers to advance to the final day were: WCT surfer Fred Patacchia Jr., Solomon Ortiz, Hank Gaskell, Sage Huls, Jamie Sterling, Mark Healey, Jason Shibata, Reef McIntosh, 2004 Pipeline Masters champion Jamie O'Brien, Ian Walsh, Makua Rothman, Braden Dias and Nathan Carroll.
Other big names to move on included 2000 Pipeline Masters winner and former WCT standout Rob Machado of California and Australia's Jarrad Sullivan.
Notable eliminations also included former world champ and two-time event winner Derek Ho (Hawaii), WCT surfer Roy Powers (Hawaii), junior world champ Kekoa Bacalso (Hawaii), Naohisa Ogawa (Japan) and Matt Archbold (California).
Hawaii's Tamayo Perry posted the highest heat score (17.83) and tied for the second-highest wave score (9.33) of the day in winning his second-rounder in the morning, but was forced to withdraw from the event after suffering a leg injury in the heat.