You may have caught some people towing in as this most recent swell produced huge waves along the North Shore. Hopefully you weren’t one of the foolish few who decided to play in the massive shore break that ate up much of the beach, but there were some experts on display throughout the islands who tried to harness the ocean’s power and tame her for a few seconds.
The size washed out any opportunity to get the Volcom Pipe Pro into the water on Thursday, but as the swell dissipates, there’s a chance the opening rounds could get going this morning. Ten days remain in the waiting period, so time isn’t a factor just yet, but the Surfline forecast indicates a new swell for Monday and Tuesday, which will then decrease throughout the week.
There won’t be much time to relax before things heat up in round one, as Bruce Irons is set to compete in heat No. 2. Bruce generates a lot of buzz at Pipeline and hopefully he’ll have the opportunity to show why he’s one of the wave’s most electric combatants. He’ll have at least one friendly face in the lineup with Kamalei Alexander also in the same heat, but I doubt anyone will be passing up priority if a gem comes through.
Coming off a third-place finish at last week’s Sunset Pro, Evan Valiere will also start in the Round of 112. Valiere picked up a heat win at this event last year, but he was knocked out in round three. He comes in riding some momentum to potentially better that result and keep adding some points to his Qualifying Series total.
Dylan Goodale, who was a semifinalist a few weeks back at the Shoe City Pro in Huntington Beach, begins in a Round of 112 heat that also features Elijah Gates.
Gavin Gillette, Kaimana Jaquias, Koa and Alex Smith will all open up in round two, but the highest-ranked heavyweights are set to start up in round three. That will include a pair of Pipeline’s best, Kelly Slater and John John Florence.
Not only are they two of the most popular surfers on the planet, but they’re two of the most highly decorated at Pipeline. Florence has completely owned this event, winning four of the past five Pipe Pros. He topped a star-studded final last year when Mason Ho took second, Slater third and Sebastian Zietz in fourth.
Florence didn’t have many great results in 2015 as a whole, but he can always be counted on to put on a show at his home break.
Slater and John John won’t be needing these qualifying points down the road, but while it’s only a QS 3,000 contest, it’s another prestigious Pipe prize. Other top pros in the field will be Zietz, Wiggolly Dantas, Keanu Asing, Conner Coffin, Dusty Payne, Mitch Coleborn, Sunny Garcia and Jamie O’Brien.
David Simon can be reached at email@example.com.