Surfer greats go off at Pipeline Masters

Pipeline, Hawaii – On an excellent day to surf, great things came from the world’s greatest surfers.

Excellent 6-to-10 foot waves barreled through Banzai Pipeline Monday while world champion Andy Irons and Luke Hitching wowed crowds with stunning heats and close finishes.

Australians set the pace of the day, living up to their reputation of being “chargers” no matter what the conditions.

Joel Parkinson delivered the top scoring ride of the day – a perfect 10 for a long winding tube ride that defied the odds. But it was still only enough to see him advance in second place behind Luke Hitchings (Aus), who topped the days heat scores with a total of 19.75 out of 20. Third and fourth in the heat, who were eliminated from the competition, were wildcard entrant Rob Machado and Shane Powell.

If Parkinson and Hitchings got the crowd going, world champion elect Andy Irons (Haw) pushed them to the edge of their sand mats.

In the morning’s second round heat, Irons required a 7.35 to move out of third position with three minutes remaining. He dropped into a Pipeline pit, positioned himself perfectly to stay inside the tube as long as possible, and then emerged to the sound of applause. The judges responded with a 9.6 and he ended up taking first in the heat ahead of childhood friend Brian Pacheco.

“Pipeline with only three other guys out is incredible,” said Irons. “I’ve surfed with Brian my whole life, he’s a childhood friend so it was a blast out there, trading off waves.”

In round three, there was no let-up. Pacheco posted the second perfect 10 wave score of the day (Joel Parkinson had the first) and Irons worked just as hard for two awesome tube rides that scored 9.5 and 8.25 (17.75 total).

Heats 12 through 16 of round one, all eight heats of round two, and the first four of eight round three heats were run.

Organizers expect the final day of competition to get underway at 8am today.

Others competing in round three: Pipe Master Kelly Slater (USA), defending Pipe Master Bruce Irons (Haw), Luke Egan (Aus), Taylor Knox, Mick Fanning, Taj Burrow, Lee Winkler and Daniel Wills, Flavio Padaratz, and Damien Hobgood.

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