Mick Fanning: doing fine at the Pipe Masters | Photo: Cestari/WSL

Owen Wright is out of the title race. CJ Hobgood rides the last waves of his pro career. Filipe Toledo and Adriano de Souza relegated to Round 2. The 2015 Billabong Pipe Masters is on.

The world's best surfers entered the final contest of the season, as powerful eight-to-ten foot giants rose above the surface of the water, and claimed a few boards and bones.

Hobgood, an experienced tube rider, couldn't have started better. The Floridian score a Perfect 10-point ride and sent Kelly Slater and Taj Burrow to the repechage round.

"Before the heat started I told Kelly it's been a privilege to grow up in the generation I did. I've been surfing against the best surfer my entire life, and I know when I'm old I'll appreciate that," revealed Hobgood said.

"Taj thought he sold me on a crappy wave and Kelly was thinking it didn't even look that good - and it didn't look that great to me either, I swear it was just a God thing. Even at the end, I just thought it was going to knock me off but it just stayed solid the whole time. It was just an out of body experience."

The captain of the Dream Tour fleet, Mick Fanning, survived a very tricky Round 1 heat against Bruce Irons and Sebastian Zietz. The Australian escapes Round 2 and increases his chances of winning everything: the Pipe Masters, the Triple Crown of Surfing, and the world title.

"I was pretty nervous coming up against Bruce and Seabass, they're some of the best surfers in the world - especially here at Pipeline and I just love both of them," explained Fanning.

"We started off so quick, and the nerves didn't really set in once we were in the water, but I was stoked to get two quick ones. The next twenty minutes was pretty nerve-racking just because Bruce is capable of anything."

Gabriel Medina looked relaxed and did his job. The 2014 world champion found his rhythm and defeated Keanu Asing and Wade Carmichael in a very important heat.

"I'm in a different position than last year, but I've got some good boards and not worried about the guys fighting for the title. I just want to do well and if it happens it will happen. I don't want to put pressure on myself, just go out and surf," concluded Medina.

2015 Billabong Pipe Masters | Round 1

Italo Ferreira (BRA) 14.26, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 9.33, Glenn Hall (IRL) 1.70
Mason Ho (HAW) 6.17, Jadson Andre (BRA) 5.70, Dusty Payne (HAW) 1.70
Gabriel Medina (BRA) 12.60, Keanu Asing (HAW) 7.84, Wade Carmichael (AUS) 3.73
Michel Bourez (PYF) 9.33, Adriano De Souza (BRA) 7.23, Jack Robinson (AUS) 5.06
Jamie O'Brien (HAW) 8.06, Filipe Toledo (BRA) 7.84, Kolohe Andino (USA) 6.50
Mick Fanning (AUS) 14.60, Bruce Irons (HAW) 14.33, Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 4.37
Kai Otton (AUS) 12.40, Julian Wilson (AUS) 3.84, Ricardo Christie (NZL) 3.10
Jeremy Flores (FRA) 11.27, Jordy Smith (ZAF) 7.17, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 3.94
CJ Hobgood (USA) 14.97, Taj Burrow (AUS) 11.26, Kelly Slater (USA) 9.80
John John Florence (HAW) 13.33, Nat Young (USA) 6.67, Brett Simpson (USA) 1.50
Bede Durbidge (AUS) 2.84, Adam Melling (AUS) 1.14, Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 1.10
Josh Kerr (AUS) 13.06, Joel Parkinson (AUS) 8.17, Miguel Pupo (BRA) 3.44

2015 Billabong Pipe Masters | Round 2 Matchups

Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Bruce Irons (HAW)
Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. Brett Simpson (USA)
Adriano De Souza (BRA) vs. Jack Robinson (AUS)
Matt Wilkinson (AUS) vs. Adam Melling (AUS)
Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Wade Carmichael (AUS)
Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. Miguel Pupo (BRA)
Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Dusty Payne (HAW)
Jadson Andre (BRA) vs. Sebastian Zietz (HAW)
Nat Young (USA) vs. Glenn Hall (IRL)
Keanu Asing (HAW) vs. Kolohe Andino (USA)
Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Ricardo Christie (NZL)
Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) vs. Jordy Smith (ZAF)