Jamie O'Brien: he is ready to take off

Monstrous barrels, in the 10-to-15 foot (4-5 metre) range, were pumped in the Hawaiian garden of Banzai Pipeline to finish the Round 2 of the Billabong Pipe Masters.


It was a "locals only" surf party in arguably the biggest surf in the event's history. The third jewel of the prestigious Vans Triple Crown is crucial for ASP Top 34 surfers looking to requalify for the 2012 season.

John John Florence navigated the massive Pipeline lineup with ease to eliminate Maui native Kai Barger in a commanding Round 2 performance while securing the first perfect 10-point ride of Billabong Pipe Masters competition.

"I got that barrel right off of the takeoff and it pinched and I couldn’t see anything,” Florence said. “It was really sketchy and then I pulled in to that other barrel. It was fun. The waves were firing. It’s the best Pipe has been in so long. There are so many waves that people don’t really see. There are ones going underneath and wide ones, they’re just everywhere."

Evan Valiere, who is competing in the Billabong Pipe Masters as a Hawaiian Wildcard, drove through several Pipe barrels on his forehand to deliver the day’s highest heat-total, a remarkable 18.16, out of 20, in his opening heat and eventually went on to solidify a Round 2 victory as well.

“There were only a couple of waves ridden, but the ones I got felt good for sure,” Valiere said. “It’s just so big. There are a lot of waves coming in on the inside, but it’s not like you’re going on those. When you’re out there, it takes a lot longer to get the ones you want. That 9.33 just felt really good. The takeoff always takes longer than you think and once you get to the bottom, you just set your line. Pipeline is the best feeling in the world.”

Ian Walsh was impressive in his 2011 Billabong Pipe Masters debut, eliminating ASP World Tour surfers Kai Otton and Bede Durbidge, while threading the needle on a massive barrel of his own for one of the day’s highest scores, 9.70 out of 10, to advance through to Round 3.

“I got pounded and that wave came and it had such a steep tee pee wave on the point that when I took off I was really late,” Walsh said. “I had a similar feeling to the wave I didn’t make before and I got pounded. I let go of my rail and it sucked back before it spit and I almost didn’t make it. When I came out I just had that ecstatic feeling.”

Billabong Pipe Masters Round 2 Results:

Heat 1: Marcus Hickman (HAW) 16.50 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 9.30
Heat 2: Evan Valiere (HAW) 16.50 def. Miguel Pupo (BRA) 3.70
Heat 3: Ian Walsh (HAW) 16.06 def. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 10.17
Heat 4: John John Florence (HAW) 18.07 def. Kai Barger (HAW) 14.67
Heat 5: Aamion Goodwin (HAW) 2.20 def. Taylor Knox (USA) 2.13
Heat 6: Jamie O’Brien (HAW) 5.33 def. Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 2.83
Heat 7: Shane Dorian (HAW) 10.50 def. Brett Simpson (USA) 1.90
Heat 8: Adam Melling (AUS) 9.64 def. Mason Ho (HAW) 8.84
Heat 9: Kieren Perrow (AUS) 14.50 def. Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 5.90
Heat 10: Dusty Payne (HAW) 9.20 def. Kolohe Andino (USA) 6.57
Heat 11: Travis Logie (ZAF) 5.80 def. Tiago Pires (PRT) 5.67
Heat 12: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 9.70 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 9.27