Pipe Masters kicks off with no shortage of drama

December 12, 2017 | Surfing
Kelly Slater: he won his first heat after returning from injury | Photo: Poullenot/WSL

Gabriel Medina and Julian Wilson will have to surf Round 2 to keep their world title hopes alive.

The first day of competition at the 2017 Billabong Pipe Masters saw Kelly Slater returning to the waves after a long injury that kept him out of the game since July.

The 11-time world champion won his Round 1 heat against Joan Duru and Kolohe Andino. Slater says his foot is at 65 percent, but he looks confident and comfortable in the lineup.

"I've missed competition but after so many years of nonstop day in, day out, week in and week out, it's been kind of nice to have a few months off. It's nice to get back, but it's nice to get away from something that you love and get back and appreciate it," said Slater.

But there's a world title at stake. And John John Florence has reasons to smile. He won his Round 1 heat and saw his direct opponents fall to the repechage heats.

"I feel like a little kid again doing this event. The support here makes me even more psyched. Just coming down the beach earlier and everyone screaming - it just makes me more excited," added the Hawaiian champion.

Miguel Pupo got the second best two-wave total of the day. The Brazilian beat his fellow country Medina and continues his battle for requalification.

"The pressure for requalification is through the roof right now. I wanted Gabby to keep going in the event to win the title, but I had to do my job to keep my job for next year," explained Pupo.

2017 Billabong Pipe Masters | Round 1 Results

Jeremy Flores (FRA) 10.17, Jadson Andre (BRA) 6.33, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 4.67
Josh Kerr (AUS) 12.17, Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 6.10, Owen Wright (AUS) 3.37
Conner Coffin (USA) 10.56, Julian Wilson (AUS) 6.57, Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 1.50
Jordy Smith (ZAF) 16.57, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 11.43, Ethan Ewing (AUS) 3.00
Miguel Pupo (BRA) 14.83, Benji Brand (HAW) 12.64 Gabriel Medina (BRA) 12.43
John John Florence (HAW) 13.50, Dusty Payne (HAW) 6.83, Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 5.63
Caio Ibelli (BRA) 12.83, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 11.27, Jack Freestone (AUS) 7.04
Kelly Slater (USA) 12.47, Joan Duru (FRA) 11.90, Kolohe Andino (USA) 7.60
Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 10.50, Filipe Toledo (BRA) 2.00, Michel Bourez (PYF) 2.00

2017 Billabong Pipe Masters Remaining | Round 1 Match-Ups

Sebastian Zietz (HAW), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Ian Gouveia (BRA)
Joel Parkinson (AUS), Connor O’Leary (AUS), Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA)
Mick Fanning (AUS), Frederico Morais (PRT), Italo Ferreira (BRA)

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