Sometimes it seems like there should be more than just the Qualifying Series to determine who makes it to the Championship Tour, because Tuesday turned into one of the multiple occasions each year when it appears obvious that Jack Robinson belongs on the CT.
In some sizable swell that was definitely far better than during the opening rounds, Robinson took home the Volcom Pipe Pro title by showing off his Pipeline prowess against some very game opponents.
Robinson won all five of his heats throughout the event, which included some massive scores. His semifinal and final performances didn’t even contain his biggest numbers, but he was consistently strong enough to continue to situate himself atop the leaderboard. The Aussie charger had not finished higher than ninth at this event, but he still would have been one of the few odds-on favorites prior to the horn sounding to open the contest.
Through only two events so far this winter, Robinson has a runner-up at the Sunset Open and this Volcom Pipe Pro title. He is undoubtedly one of the world’s best in barrels and heavier waves and seems quite at home in Hawaii. That ability would translate to some of the more treacherous spots along the CT schedule, obviously including the Billabong Pipe Masters. But Robinson has never finished better than 40th for a QS season. His skills don’t always resonate at many of the smaller and punchier beach breaks that comprise a large portion of the QS season. If he’s able to add that wrinkle to his repertoire, then Robinson may someday be surfing amongst the elite year after year. But if not, he’ll be reliant upon wild card spots to see him side-by-side with many of the greats in events where he can clearly compete.
Kauai’s Sebastian Zietz was having a great contest and progressed into the semifinals on Tuesday, before being eliminated in a rather difficult heat. Robinson took control immediately and had the top spot all but locked up with two excellent waves before Barron Mamiya then scored a beautiful Backdoor barrel and earned a perfect 10-point score. It took Mamiya a while to find an adequate backup, but once he did, both Zietz and Cody Young were almost out of time to get back into contention. Zietz took an equal seventh place, which was good for his second-best career Pipe Pro result.
Zietz was on the receiving end of a perfect score from the judges back in round four, when he took off deep on a Backdoor wave. He nestled snugly into the barrel, which shot him out with the spit but then provided another tight barrel section in which to hide. It was the lone gem in an otherwise slow heat but still led to a Seabass win.
Mamiya was the final Hawaii competitor in the field and he wound up taking second place overall, coming up just shy of the win against Robinson. Aussie Reef Heazlewood surfed a very smart event and advanced all the way to third place while New York’s Balaram Stack wound up in fourth.
The Big Island’s Brodi Sale turns just 16 years old today and he had a birthday week for the ages. Sale made it all the way to the semifinals from the very first round, receiving no byes in the 144-surfer field. It’s a big statement for the young teen and a great way to make a name for himself at the most famous wave in the world.
Defending champ Josh Moniz was knocked out in the quarterfinals. Tyler Newton, Billy Kemper and Dusty Payne were all eliminated in round five.
The Hang Loose Pro Contest is the next major men’s QS event on the schedule. The QS 6,000 begins Feb. 19 in Pernambuco, Brazil.
David Simon can be reached at email@example.com.