BANZAI PIPELINE, Oahu/Hawaii – (Wednesday, January 26, 2011) - With a perfect 10 from Ian Walsh, and a dose of trademark Bruce Irons brilliance to reinvigorate the local drive, the Hawaiian contingent at the Volcom Pipe Pro tapped into a rhythm all their own today. As defending event champion Jamie O’Brien prepares to make his first appearance here tomorrow, the local barrel-riding force is gaining momentum right in time for the final day.
In excellent 8-foot surf, eight of the top 10 scoring tubes today were laid down by Hawaii surfers, including the 10 and an 8.27 from Maui’s Ian Walsh, and a stand-alone 9-point ride from Irons that left even him in disbelief.
Stealing a moment away from his larger role in his family’s life on Kauai, Bruce Irons found himself in a world of his own in the barrel at Backdoor today; so much so that he had no idea that his only real score – a nine – was the best wave ridden in his heat and more than enough to move him forward in the competition. He disappeared off into the free-surfing lineup after the heat, looking like he needed a moment alone, before making his way back half an hour later. Speaking in an interview on the beach, he was shocked to learn that he was still in the running.
“You know, Pipe is different from everywhere else…It’s like, where time stands still. If you could bottle that up and give it to someone who doesn’t know anything about surfing, that feeling, you’d be a millionaire! All my thoughts, everything is out the window and it’s pure joy, excitement, euphoria. It’s a real nice feeling. It’s very peaceful.
“You drop in, you’re concentrating, and then you get in the barrel and you’re mesmerized, and then….none of this even exists and then as you come out of the barrel, reality sets back in. You can hear the commentator, wooahh! And you’re like…..back to the real world. I just wanna go back inside. I don’t know, it’s a trip.
“I haven’t really surfed a contest (lately) and it felt good. The reality I came out to was I lost. But it’s only a contest and I don’t really do them anymore.”
At this point, Bruce was informed that he had actually advanced. “No, I don’t think I did….I got a 9 and a zero, maybe a 1. Really?! I thought I lost! I was just staying out there blowing off steam!”
Ian Walsh was flawless, from his wave selection to his body torquing positioning and deep, traveling tube-time. From the beach it was impossible to tell he was surfing with 12 stitches in his ankle from a random swing of his garden machete over the weekend. Clearly, he’s safer in the setting of a dry, dredging reef than dry land.
“I made it through the whole weekend of big swell … surfing Jaws and paddling a few reefs on Maui, and then I was relaxing on Saturday night just cleaning up my yard and the machete slipped out of my hand, and boom! straight to the bone on my ankle. I was kinda on crutches for two days and now the tenderness is slowly going away. It feels better if I’m floating not standing on it.”
Talking about his perfect 10: “I could see the set coming and Healey and I were kind of paddling pretty deep past the boil and it was pretty evident it was gonna be a left coming in, not a right. I thought I might have been a little too far out over the ledge. I got a couple extra scratches and gave a little whistle to Mark because he was pretty head down into it. I just got one big lucky pump without grabbing (rail) which kind of gave me more room to pump, and it just stayed open and I came out happy. It’s my first perfect 10 in this contest or any event in Hawaii, so I’m psyched.”
On the flip side of being ‘psyched’, the Australians were dejected, and ejected today – all of them. Dean Morrison was left with the pain of one of the day’s deepest, longest backdoor barrels that pinched shut on him, leaving him in limbo between what could have been a perfect 10 but ended up worthless. Anthony Walsh and Heath Joske suffered similar fates and the Southern Cross flag came down at the Volcom Pipe Pro.
Since the earliest years of pro surfing at the Banzai Pipeline, Australians have routinely claimed their share of the attention, and the Volcom Pipe Pro has been one of the platforms that has jump-started more than a few of their careers.
The dream start of Brazil’s Dennis Tihara also hit a wall today when Pipe deserted him in favor of fellow-countryman Wiggolly Dantas – one of the top 10 scorers of the day. Only two Brazilians remain in contention as the event readies for the final day: Leandro Bastos and Dantas.
The US mainland contingent is still strong, including Timmy Reyes, Chris Ward, Cory Lopez, Damien Hobgood, and Dane Gudauskas.
Wave heights are expected to drop tomorrow before a new swell starts filling in on Friday. Regardless, organizers will assess the conditions at 7am each morning. The 2011 Volcom Pipe Pro champion will be crowned on the next day that the event runs.
The Volcom Pipe Pro is being broadcast live on the internet at http://www.volcompipepro.com/ 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.
Volcom Pipe Pro Round of 96 Results:
H11: Olomana Eleogram (HI); Flynn Novak (HI); Derek HO (HI); Stephen Walsh (AUS)
H12: Nic Von Rupp (DEU); Sion Milosky (HI); Nils Schweizer (USA); Casey Brown (HI)
H13: Charles Martin (GLP); Evan Valiere (HI); Jonah Morgan (HI); Liam McNamara (HI)
H14: Ian Walsh (HI); Marcus Hickman (HI); Mark Healey (HI); Dege O’Connell (HI)
H15: Makuakai Rothman (HI); Pancho Sullivan (HI); Matthew Bromley (ZAF); TJ Barron (HI)
H16: Kevin Sullivan (HI); Stephen Koehne (HI); Manuel Selman (CHL); Albee Layer (HI)
Volcom Pipe Pro Round of 64 Results:
H1: Brad Ettinger (USA); Cory Lopez (USA); Anthony Walsh (USA); Billy Kemper (HI)
H2: John John Florence (HI); Sunny Garcia (HI); Solomon Ortiz (HI); Gabriel Villaran (PER)
H3: Reef McIntosh (HI); Cory Arrambide (USA); Dean Morrison (AUS); Rudy Palmboom (ZAF)
H4: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA); Chris Ward (USA); Jason Shibata (HI); Dennis Thiara (BRA)
H5: Kekoa Becalso (HI); Kai Barger (HI); Dimitri Ouvre (BRB); Angelo Lozano (MEX)
H6: Tim Reyes (USA); Dane Gudauskas (USA); Jesse Mendes (BRA); Jesse-Merle Jones (HI)
H7: Damien Fahrenfort (ZAF); Mason Ho (HI); Danny Fuller (HI); Heath Joske (AUS)
H8: Kalani Chapman (HI); Damien Hobgood (USA); Alexander Gray (USA); Tyler Newton (HI)
H9: Frederick Patacchia (HI); Bruce Irons (HI); Ricky Whitlock (USA); Sean Moody (HI)
H10: Leandro Bastos (BRA); Aamion Goodwin (HI); Kiron Jabour (HI); Luke Davis (USA)
H11: Olamana Eleogram (HI); Roy Powers (HI); Sion Milosky (HI); Chris Waring (USA)
H12: Nathan Yeomans (USA); Flynn Novak (HI); Nic Von Rupp (DEU); Eric Geiselman (USA)
H13: Marcus Hickman (HI); Charles Martin (GLP); Torrey Meister (HI); Granger Larsen (HI)