Day 2 Highlights from the 2019 Volcom Pipe Pro
Day 2 at the 2019 Volcom Pipe Pro is in the books!
Conditions improved drastically for the second day of competition at the 2019 Volcom Pipe Pro, a World Surf League (WSL) men’s Qualifying Series (QS) 3,000-level event. A new swell began filling in overnight and this morning event organizers made an easy call to start Round 2 Heat 12 in 6-to-8 foot (10-foot, plus faces) WNW swell before moving into a full day of competition as the Pipeline lineup began to show its many different moods.
The first near-perfect score of competition was dropped in Round 3 Heat 11 by Barbados’ Josh Burke on a Backdoor bomb to garner a 9.07 (out of a possible 10). The 21-year-old came to the North Shore for the first time at age 14 and that experience has paid dividends as he now tries to build a professional career in surfing. Burke also has the training ground of Soup Bowl to hone his barrel-riding and that comfort in waves of consequence proved a difference maker over the likes of former event champion Jamie O’Brien (HAW).
“I was happy to be out there by myself with priority because Jamie’s (O’Brien) intimidating out there just being at his home break,” Burke said. “Soup Bowl is a bit of a mix of waves out here. It’s kind of like Off The Wall and Backdoor when it’s clean, but can be like Haleiwa when it’s windy. It’s so hard to be unprepared for this event staying at the Billabong house and the ocean right there so I’m incredibly grateful for that. You can see Pipeline a little bit from there and it makes it look a lot more scary, especially when people knife it and you only see fins through the back of the wave.”
Just before Burke’s brilliance, Oahu, Hawaii’s, own Makuakai Rothman found himself dropping into a Backdoor bomb when he needed it most in the dying seconds of his Round 3 heat and came flying out with the wave’s spit surrounding him to earn an excellent 8.50 (out of a possible 10). The 34-year-old, former WSL Big Wave Champion, showed his patience and the ocean rewarded him for it
“Sunny Garcia always says if it’s not an 8-point ride, don’t go and I needed a 7.57 today,” Rothman said. “I wouldn’t say it’s an easy give by the judges, but if you get a barrel and come out with the spit you’re going to get the score. I knew none of those other waves that came in offered the scoring potential. I sat there waiting for my wave and if it didn’t come, it wasn’t my time. It’s surfing, the waves choose you, they come to you and some guys are luckier than others. It came to me and I’m blessed, and tomorrow’s another day.”
A specialty heat highlighted the early stages of day two with the Volcom Last Chance Qualifier determining the final slot into the main event and it belonged to the Big Island, Hawaii’s, Mikey Bruneau. The best one-wave-take-all, single heat included the likes of WSL Champion Derek Ho along with a crop of Pipeline chargers such as Kaimana Henry gunning for the one spot into the main event, but it was Bruneau’s 6.00 that took the win. While opportunities were scarce in the heat, Bruneau enjoyed the camaraderie as he now prepares to shift gears into competition.
“I just went into it wanting to have fun with my friends surfing and got that six thinking maybe it will hang on — I’m glad it did,” Bruneau said. “I just tried to pick and choose. There weren’t many good waves, but I saw that one wave and knew it’d have a little barrel. Basically just tried to navigate through that heat, but the rip was pretty gnarly so just stayed focused. It was super rad to be in that heat with them and it was nothing but good vibes, everyone was laughing and not competition mode. I hope we get some barreling Pipeline and I’m focused, and now it’s competition mode.”
Tyler Newton proved himself as a threat before the first horn of this event sounded after taking down the 2019 Da Hui Backdoor Shootout title and brought that confidence into winning form in Round 3. The Kauai, Hawaii, native showcased his prowess for the barrel once again and earned a solid 7.33 to find himself into the top-seeded Round 4. Newton is also understanding the process and what it takes to compete at a high level which was on full display today.
“I went on the first one and the face pinched on me, but then I saw Makai (McNamara) get a right and thought I just need to wait for a good one so I was stoked it came,” Newton said. “Nothing too crazy but it got the job done. It’s going through phases where there is good waves and then the wind will come up, there’s a rip, but that’s Pipeline. I’m feeling healthy, I’ve been training a lot and just trying to be the best me I can. Hanging out with Ian Walsh at Nias then going to Teahupoo after and seeing the way Nate (Florence) and Koa operate is really inspiring. You have to be an athlete, it’s not like when I was a kid and just going out to surf. Now it’s training, being smart, boards, eating healthy – just all of that comes into play.”