A few gems, some big wipeouts, a quiet ocean and some late, pumping swell made up a dramatic second day of the Volcom Pipe Pro Saturday at the Banzai Pipeline. After a Friday lay day, action got going early Saturday morning with the final 12 heats of round two before seven third-round heats finished in the afternoon hours.
Seven Kauai surfers remain in the competition, including Sebastian Zietz and Gavin Gillette, who are furthest along and into the Round of 32 after advancing during their early third-round heats. Zietz, one of the event’s top seeds, surfed his first heat of the contest on Saturday and got going quickly. Seabass started his account with a 5.67, finding a Pipe barrel and surfing it with ease to take the early heat lead. Though that stood up as the top ride, he was in a precarious position without a quality backup. Oahu youngster Kalani David moved ahead for the heat lead, but Zietz moved on in second with a 7.07 total.
Gillette joined his fellow Kilauea compatriot in the fourth round with an exciting second-place finish in his Round of 64 foursome. It was a late charge that got him into that position with a beautiful 8.77 barrel, easing out with the spit. That was way more than he needed but it certainly made the rest of the field take note and was enough to advance with a 10.67 after some early throwaways.
Gillette will take on David, Ezekiel Lau and Japan’s Shun Murakami in the fourth round. Zietz goes up against Ian Walsh, Nathan Florence and Brazil’s Hizunome Bettero.
Five more Kauai surfers are still to come in round three, including Bruce Irons, who will lead off today’s action. Irons earned his spot in the Round of 64 by winning Thursday’s Wildcard heat against seven other legendary competitors. That victory puts him in the same heat as top seed and fellow former Pipe Master John John Florence. Those two are clearly the favorites with Seth Moniz and Brazil’s Yago Dora trying to pull the upset.
Following that anticipated heat, Kamalei Alexander, Kaimana Jaquias, Alex Smith and Danny Fuller will all be on tap in separate third-round heats. Alexander took second in a super slow heat on Saturday, advancing on just a 3.13 total. He will take on No. 2 seed Kelly Slater in today’s second heat, as well as American Parker Coffin and South African Dale Staples.
Jaquias showed off his patience by jumping from fourth to second place with just over three minutes remaining in his second round. With only a 2.69 total on three small attempts, the youngster dropped into a big wave and emerged for a 7.60 to leapfrog Kona Oliveira and Japan’s Kaishu Tanaka with a 9.03 total. He’ll be going up against Americans Luke Davis and Conner Coffin and Brazil’s Wiggolly Dantas in the third round.
Alex Smith watched younger brother Koa get eliminated in round two, but he kept the family name in the competition with a dominant heat win shortly thereafter. A Pipe barrel looked all too easy for Alex and secured an 8.50 for his first score. That put him in comfortable position and he backed it up with a 5.77 to sit in the lead with a 14.27 total that was never in jeopardy. He’ll set his sights on former Triple Crown winner Myles Padaca, American Chris Ward and France’s Marc Lacomare coming up in round three.
Fuller gets his first waves of the event when he paddles out with No. 3 seed Kolohe Andino, Oahu charger Kiron Jabour and Japan’s Masatoshi Ohno in the final heat of round three.
Along with Koa Smith, Evan Valiere, Reef McIntosh and Dylan Goodale were all eliminated Saturday. Valiere made a late charge for a top-two spot, first showing commitment on a steep drop for a 7.90 Pipe wave, but he couldn’t get the 2.94 he needed in the final minute. He takes an Equal 33rd result for $800. McIntosh and Goodale were eliminated together in their second-round heat for Equal 65th and Equal 81st finishes, respectively.
Other eliminations included Sunny Garcia, Joel Centeio, Ian Gentil, Tanner Hendrickson, Carlos Munoz, Mitch Coleborn and Freddy Patacchia. Jamie O’Brien, Dusty Payne and Ezekiel Lau all advanced in their third-round heats for spots in the Round of 32.
Eighteen spots in round four are still up for grabs and Surfline’s forecast appears to indicate the contest will be back on today. Saturday was mostly Pipeline with very few Backdoor opportunities, although Payne found a pair of Backdoor bombs. Today could give a greater variety with both peaks going off more evenly.
Since I won’t be able to handle the talking heads dissecting the Patriots’ short passing game for the fifteenth time this week, Pipeline is on my agenda if they get the go-ahead as the perfect pre-game distraction. Enjoy the day – and go ‘Hawks.
David Simon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.