In clean, overhead Backdoor conditions, John John Florence won his third consecutive Volcom Pipe Pro. The 20-year-old from the North Shore dominated his home break from the beginning of the 5-star World Qualifying Series (WQS) event. With this win, Florence ties his Pipeline mentor and neighbor, Jamie O'Brien, for Pipe Pro victories.
"To win three in a row, I still can't believe it and I'm tripping out," said a smiling Florence, "I didn't think it would happen going into the event that's' for sure."
The three-time Pipe Pro champ posted a 16.33 out of a possible 20-point two-wave total in the final, and utilized Backdoor for his highest scoring rides. There were a lot more rights on the final day of the Volcom Pipe Pro because of the decreasing northwest swell. The surf was 3 to 5 feet yesterday and with the "small" waves the final day was a paddle battle, Florence said. Another factor contributing to the hassling in the lineup was the WQS's four-man heat format.
"The two-man overlapping [heat format] at the Pipe Masters and the four-man heats are way different -- you have to go in with a way different strategy," explained Florence. "In the Pipe Masters you have priority for half of the heat and the other half you don't. In [the Volcom Pipe Pro] you don't have priority so it's every man for himself, so it's pretty interesting. I kind of like the four-man heats because you can go off and sneak little waves everywhere and it's fun."
Finishing as runner-up behind Florence was Chris "Wardo" Ward, 34, who was ripping throughout the entire event. He posted a respectable 14.87 two-wave total in the final. Wardo was the only surfer to hand Florence a loss in the Round of 32, which he was proud of.
"[Florence] is just a phenomenal surfer," said Wardo. "I've watched him surf since he was 8 years old, for him to win back-to-back and to do so well on the WT his first year is phenomenal and I'm stoked for him. I wish I had to take him out, but at least I beat him once [yesterday] and he deserves the win."
Wardo kept the final competitive pull into any tube that came his way. Third-place finisher Josh Kerr also went down swinging, posting a 13.88 two-wave total in the final. Despite the bronze-medal finish, Kerr was still stoked on the "fun" waves offered on the last day of competition at the Volcom Pipe Pro.
"It was kind of playful, fun Pipe and Backdoor [yesteday], nothing over 5- to 6-foot," said Kerr. "But the good thing was when [the waves] came in they were hitting the reef really square in the nice, shallow part of the reef so there were some really hollow fun ones."
The whole gamut of the Banzai Pipeline was on display for the three days of competition at the Volcom Pipe Pro. This event will go down in history as one of the overall most memorable contests this winter and it wasn't even part of the Triple Crown.
1st ($20,000): John John Florence - 16.33 points (8.43, 7.9)
2nd ($10,000): Chris Ward - 14.8 (7.93, 6.87)
3rd ($6,500): Josh Kerr - 13.83 (8.33, 5.5)
4th ($5,500): 13.3 (6.87, 6.43)
1st and 2nd advance; 3rd=5th; 4th=7th
H1: John John Florence (HI); Chris Ward (USA); Kolohe Andino (USA); Reef McIntosh (HI)
H2: Josh Kerr (AUS); Olamana Eleogram (HI); Conner Coffin (USA); Dusty Payne (HI)
1st and 2nd advance; 3rd=9th; 4th=13th
H1: John John Florence (HI); Reef McIntosh (HI); Bruce Irons (HI); Jamie O'Brien (HI)
H2: Kolohe Andino (USA); Chris Ward (USA); Kahea Hart (HI); Masatoshi Ohno (JPN)
H3: Olamana Eleogram (HI); Dusty Payne (HI); Dale Staples (ZAF); Jesse Mendes (BRA)
H4: Josh Kerr (AUS); Conner Coffin (USA); Alex Gray (USA); Sebastian Zietz (HI)
Round of 32:
1st and 2nd advance; 3rd=17th; 4th=25th
H1: Jamie O'Brien (HI); Kahea Hart (HI); Tanner Gudauskas (USA); Eala Stewart (HI)
H2: Bruce Irons (HI); Kolohe Andino (USA); Joel Centeio (HI); Nat Young (USA)
H3: Masatoshi Ohno (JPN); Reef McIntosh (HI); Ricardo Dos Santos (BRA); Pancho Sullivan (HI)
H4: Chris Ward (USA); John John Florence (HI); Cory Arrambide (USA); Perth Standlick (AUS)
H5: Olamana Eleogram (HI); Josh Kerr (AUS); Patrick Gudauskas (USA); Cory Lopez (USA)
H6: Dale Staples (ZAF); Alex Gray (USA); Wiggolly Dantas (BRA); Krystian Kymerson (BRA)
H7: Conner Coffin (USA); Dusty Payne (HI); Kaimana Jaquias (HI); Leandro Bastos (BRA)
H8: Sebastian Zietz (HI); Jesse Mendes (BRA); Marcus Hickman (HI); Ezekiel Lau (HI)
Round of 64, continued from Friday:
1st and 2nd advance; 3rd=25th; 4th=49th
H13: Dusty Payne (HI); Marcus Hickman (HI); Stephen Koehne (HI); Mason Ho (HI)
H14: Conner Coffin (USA); Ezekiel Lau (HI); Granger Larsen (HI); Ian Gentil (HI)
H15: Jesse Mendes (BRA); Leandro Bastos (BRA); Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY); Sean Moody (HI)
H16: Sebastian Zietz (HI); Kaimana Jaquias (HI); Balaram Stack (USA); Joshua Moniz (HI)