On a day that saw one dynasty defeated in the Super Bowl, another dynasty was adding a title to its record of achievement. The Moniz family has become a staple of the Hawaii surf community over the past three to four decades and Josh Moniz’s victory on Sunday at the Volcom Pipe Pro added to that legacy.
Some major obstacles stood in his way as 32 surfers were still alive to begin round five action in the morning hours, but Moniz showed the patience, competitiveness and ability to capitalize on his opportunities that have made him a standout in the Junior and QS ranks to this point in his young career. He had to outwork the two former champions still in the field and saved his best for last to be chaired up the beach and add his name to the lofty list of Pipe Pro winners.
Moniz’s day started by taking on defending champ Soli Bailey. The Aussie may have been somewhat of a surprise when he took the 2017 Pipe Pro title, but he wasn’t to be overlooked this time around. Moniz completed his effort with a pair of solid waves and a 13.77 total that was good enough for first place. Bailey did not make it through the heat, making the possibility of the Pipe Pro championship returning to Hawaii that much more likely.
But Moniz entered the quarterfinals as one of just five Hawaii surfers remaining in the 16-man field. Kauai’s Koa Smith and Evan Valiere were also among those five, each having picked up top-two totals in some stacked fifth-round heats. Smith ended up equaling his 13th place result from a year ago, a very impressive back-to-back showing into the quarterfinals. Valiere took a ninth place result, which is his best career Pipe Pro finish, bettering a 17th back in 2012.
With Smith, Valiere and Finn McGill all bowing out in the quarters, just Moniz and Jamie O’Brien were surfing under the Hawaiian flag heading into the semifinal round. Though the numbers weren’t in their favor, the pair came through in the clutch by each moving into the final heat and finishing first and second overall.
O’Brien came breathtakingly close to winning his second career Pipe Pro, having won the inaugural contest in 2010. He achieved a perfect 10-point ride in the final heat to grab the late lead away from Moniz. But the 21-year-old didn’t panic and responded with an 8.73 that ended up giving him the 17.56 to 17.43 victory.
Moniz earns 3,000 Qualifying Series rankings points to hold the very early season lead. He’ll be trying to secure a top-10 spot for the season to earn a spot on the 2019 Championship Tour.
But that’s a long way away.
Just savoring this Pipe Pro win is the current objective. It’s the biggest win for Moniz to date and could give him a lot of momentum as he navigates through the QS schedule.
For now, the Volcom Pipe Pro has crowned another winner and returned the prestigious title to the Hawaiian islands. Finals day may have been somewhat overshadowed by that other game with those two teams I can’t stand, but it will be one to forever remember for the entire Moniz family.
David Simon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.