Pipe 2023: Finals Day
Pipe 2023: Finals Day
To be fair to the WSL, today's second-worst day ever at Pipe, and undisputed worst Finals Day ever (#nodebate), vindicates their decision to send the Women out on the worst day ever for their Quarter-Final match-ups.
Hindsight and a surf that deteriorated to pure dog caca, makes that difficult call the correct one. So, props to JMD. Today's Finals Day also vindicates the decision - also hugely influenced by JMD - to activate (if that is the correct corpo buzzword) a Women's tour event at Pipe.
Runner-up Tyler Wright, in her podium speech, claimed the event showed, “how much more comfortable we've got out there in twelve months,” and proceeded to give thanks to the WSL and JMD.
The best heat of the day, a wave for wave battle between Men's winner Jack Robinson and past winner John Florence, was followed by the second-best heat of the day, the Semi-Final between Tyler Wright and Lakey Peterson. Honestly, the direct comparison between the two heats was not disrespectful to Women's surfing. John side-slipped out of the lip to be in the tube before he was at the bottom of the wave then belted it twice for a 7.17. Tyler did the same thing to finish with an aggressive float for an 8. Even if those scores were reversed it still showed a stunning closing of the gap.
Oh, I know it wasn't proper Pipe, we all saw that and gracious winner Carissa Moore was quick to acknowledge that fact after winning the Final. More importantly she let us know (if we were listening) that she had trained for proper Pipe, was ready for proper Pipe, and actively wished for it. That’s a huge statement of intent. I think, based on Carissa's record, we should take her at her word.
Jack's heat, like other close heats he has won, both against John, Medina, and others, could have gone either way. Florence had looked imperious in adopting the core skill required to progress through today: take off under it, thread the tube, and squeak out of a straight closeout as the wave slowed for a half-second on the Ain'ts sandbar crack. Problem was, Jack could do that too, so John's pretty little house he had built was far from secure against the rabid opportunism of Robinson.
It seemed to go the way of so many Jack Robinson heats. Five minutes to go and he needs a score - in this case a 7.87 - while John has the heat well in hand with priority. Robbo nabs a 6.67 and needs a 6.21 with three minutes to play. Is there another surfer in the draw, any surfer in history save Kelly Slater in his second run of titles, who you'd feel more confident in your gut to get the score?
It seemed inevitable that Jack would sneak in behind a rolling wedge, get tubed, sneak out the Ain'ts crack and belt the closeout for a 7.
Close, but judges for now, still seem enraptured by that sense of fast twitch unpredictability Jack brings to those clutch rides.
What happened to Toledo? Ironically, Pip hunted tubes on a toy day where his turns would have won almost any heat while a certified Pipe tube hound in Joao Chianca beat him with turns. One big air probably would have won Pip the heat. Subsequently, Chianca was beaten by the craftiness of Robinson.
By this stage Pipe didn't even resemble a surf spot. I remember the first time I laid eyes on Pipe in similar conditions - I could not discern a recognisable surf spot. I thought the closeout looking beachie with a dark bottom could not be it. Somehow, in amongst the chaotic, closed-out wind ravaged 'peaks' Jack found some little nugs.
Enough to get through.
Carissa did the late drop to tube for an 8.00 in the only good wave of the heat to defeat Sakura Johnson. The old guard still showing that when things get grindy you have to be able to win ugly and not forget mathematics - best two waves win.
One good tube ride in the Final and a single turn closeout smash was enough for Riss to take out the Final against Tyler.
No-one wins ugly better than Leo Fioravanti, and I mean that as compliment. He'll battle and scrap and make every heat into a Challenger Series slop and slug fest if he needs to. In that respect, there is science to his approach. You win the paddle battle, you get the best wave of the heat, and you can win if opportunity is limited, which it was.
That was enough to get him past Jordy and Caio before his own strategy bit him on the balls. Kicking out early of a wave instead of belting the end section enabled him to win the paddle battle against Robbo but cost him a point and change. Was that decisive? In a low scoring Final, it probably was.
No matter though, Leo has secured his season with the second place finish.
Fiji, J-Bay, Teahupoo, Trestles, France, Portugal, Pipe. That was the second half of the year for 2016 and 2107, the years John John went back to back World Titles.
Now we get Surf Ranch, El Salvador, Brazil, J-Bay, Tahiti, and Trestles for the Finals Day.
Objectively, it's a far inferior schedule, a shadow of the Dream Tour.
Elo has presided over perhaps the biggest disintegration of wave and schedule quality in Rabbit's post-'95 Dream Tour era. Creeping fan disengagement can be largely sheeted home to this fact alone, no matter how much corporate fuckery we are forced to endure.
Gabs, Jack, JJF, Toledo, Ferreira, Ewing, Moore, Gilmore, Wright, Pickles etc etc. The talent has never looked better.
The schedule never worse.
Congrats to Carissa and Jack; their talent was not matched by the wave quality and I think that will be a common theme for 2023.
// STEVE SHEARER
Such a shemozzle. Think about this... Jack and John could win all the events between them (for example) and arrive to a finals day at small Trestles fourth and fifth favourites to win the WT. Insanity.
Oh well. At least finals day at Trestles can't be held in worse surf than this......can it?
The worst pipe event in history, as above, had more tubes than Trestles has ever produced so I guess it depends on your outlook.
Predictions for for season 2023:
KS doesn’t make the cut, feigns an injury and gets a wildcard for the second half.
Robbo skips out to a large lead by the end of the regular season, then loses the title to Pip in shitty onshore Trestles.
JJF gets injured, loses interest and sails off into the sunset.
ELO adds more fat and slow rights to the tour in 2024.
I don't know much but I know whoever is in charge of scheduling these events shouldn't have that job, you could argue that luck hasn't been on their side but scheduling G-Land in May last year was pure incompetence
To be fair they were really unlucky and La Nina was a big factor, while June, July, Aug would be better May is a decent month for swell and trade winds normally have kicked in before then.
At least they can read a tide chart eh?
from my experience I wouldn't book a trip in May let alone the sports "most prestigious" tour event
At least they have set the bar. It's only up from here......... oh except the shitty forecast for sunset.
Have the WSL made any good major decisions in the last few years?
Thanks again Steve for making these comps a lot more interesting than they often are. I didn't get to watch much live action, but the first thing I thought after seeing some replays was "Is this not the worst pipe surf ever?" Anyways JR claims the gold, which is friggin' awesome. Go Jack, Liam, Callum, Ryan, Ethan, Connor and Jacko. 7 aussies in the top 20. In terms of per capita, we've got great representation. Good luck fellas! (Can we just skip to J-Bay now?)
It’s sad having to watch the best surfers in the world, at one the heaviest breaks in the world, having to surf it in such shit conditions. We all know Mother Nature has the last say but if they want people to watch, maybe they need to dump some of the shit wave locations and extend the waiting period at good locations ?
And ffs get rid of the Ranch and Turpel !!!
for Hawaii & two competitions, they need to have a one month waiting period and either comp can be called for surfing on any day.
boy those surf trophy boards by Lopez were beautiful, so much work in them they looked awesome and i agree it seems some of the women at least have upped their game at pipe
yes, indeed. Such beautiful boards.
"Carissa did the late drop to tube for an 8.00 in the only good wave of the heat to defeat Sakura Johnson". While Carissa is a world champ, that wave was very well surfed. As for John vs Robbo, while a tad ovescored, i think Robbo got the win.
Quite simply this isn't working at all, Pipe has to be the last comp the show down where tittles are made, kept or lost.
And needs a long waiting period to get proper pipe/backdoor if guys are still doing airs its not proper pipe.
Can't believe how quick you turn in your copy Steve. Got day 1 sunset wrapped up yet?
Just needs a spit and polish.
I think it's great that the Woz are showing Steve the respect he deserves by having his likeness as a medallion of sorts for the ladies' second place.
Reckon that'll be going straight to the pool room at Tyler's place.
Nice Andy- got me. Had to do the double take.
Glad to see my incredible skills are not wasted Zen :)
What's Rabbit up to these days? Can wsl get him back to fix up tour? ... Still reckon title being decided at Trestles is a farce, if grand final play off have it in waves of consequence...
Saw him wondering around Tweed a few weeks back looking lost. He's sure been in the good paddock lately
Sounds like he could do with the work. Come on wsl, bring back Rabbit!!
LIV Rebel Surf Tour?
Surely Kelly and Greg are mates.....
Great commentary Steve. I particularly enjoyed the earlier article that you wrote which touched on the toxic positivity we are often subjected to at the more lacklustre events on the calendar.
I for one have zero interest in watching any of these events unless there’s a good chance someone will get maimed or killed. To be clear: I don’t want to see anyone harmed at all, but I want to watch people compete in terrifying waves.. The only exception to that rule for me is J-Bay when it can deliver mouthwatering 6-8ft flawless lines.
So I guess the next event I’ll be tuning into will be J-Bay.
Great coverage Steve, unfortunate that the outlook was so grim, I enjoyed the second to last day but yesterday was tragic.
Thanks for the write ups Steve, I’d like to have you commentating along side Ross Williams, what a team.
Yep love the write ups Steve. Look forward to em.
What are conditions typically like in Portugal in March? Would have thought autumn/winter would be better for a comp?
What was the supposed rationale for flipping the schedule round?
Like a low scoring cricket match on a dodgy green top pitch I found the finals heats nerve racking and exciting, perhaps even more so than surfers trading high nines in perfect conditions.
Pipe was epic last time for the Goat. Its a fickle thing the hand of nature , they have been blessed with some totally pumping conditions. Every now and then things dont work out,,,but it shows the worlds best can and will adapt to whatever conditions present....schedules tight with Sunset coming up. We get used to 6-8ft perfection but its a rare treat.
I hope some back room pen pusher from the WSL reads these.
Thanks for your time Steve.
Times like this we should all turn to the Holy Book for guidance. Galatians 6:7 said it best:
'Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.'
Ever since they built a new judging tower, strung up the dead King Monkey and greenwashed a national park, wozzle has been in a downward spiral.
I thought the worst Pipe final ever was the year Bede Durbidge won? It was jokingly called the 'Off The Wall Masters'. There were no waves at Pipe and Off the Wall was tiny.
Glad you mentioned that. I thought the Bede final was rubbish. Barely 3ft if I recall.
Onya Robbo!!! Doing WA proud. That was absolutely awesome.
Awesome coverage and good article FR. It takes a man bigger than me to eat humble pie and admit he's wrong re JMD etc. I guess there's no argument though, she called it.
And just on Jack. He's ripping. No one was going to beat him in this contest. He just looked on, in every way. The way he came back against JJF was pure grit.
Congrats to Leo too on a podium finish. Seems like a good lad. And hats off to Carissa. It seems she's really let herself be vulnerable to Pipeline and her fears and that seems to be paying dividends. She's put a tonne of time in out there this winter from what i've seen. And legend effort Tyler. That girl was on fire all comp.
Shame about the waves but agree with a couple of comments above, it was entertaining for reasons other than the waves. Geez these crew surf good.
most local boardriders comps are run in the conditions of the day. sure the woz has a little more leway compared to a local comp. but, the cream generally rises to the top regardless of conditions. i think this was the case for the pipe masters. there are some good surfers in excellent pipe and some that have worked out how to scrap through. this pipe was a comp for the scrappers. they got to the final. i think the belief we need perfection for comps is a little naive. surf comps are and will be the best surfer in the conditions of the day.
Women's quarters was not contestable though.
If Robbo has learned to win in slop - look out the rest of the year. Great write up FR as always, but the #nodebate is BS, here's a reminder of the year Mick was robbed of his rightful forth world title by what Vaughan Blakey called the worst judging decision in the history of any sort, ever. Looks eerily similar, no?
I did look carefully at 2015 Finals Day before making that call S67.
Much better waves on offer that day- although still crap.
Look at the scores on 2015 Finals Day.
I haven’t looked but Richie porta would make the judges throw out high scores in crap surf in his scaling.
Regardless of the crap surf, Robbo's been a huge news item over here in the West, more so than when he won comps in decent surf. Twice now i've switched on my local ABC radio in the car and heard interviews with him or about him. And he's popping up everywhere on random news clips.
The prestige of Pipe carries so much weight i guess, and it's blatantly obvious Jacks amongst the very few at the top of the tree on the WCT when it comes to those waves.
To see Jack at the top is refreshing to say the least in this current surfing environment.
Imagine how many he may win given what he’s likely to do in proper pipe. He’ll be so hard to beat.
Agreed. He's looking so strong.
For all the head banging into the coffee table I did during these masters, especially during the women's quarters. Throughout the event, some gold nuggets were ridden and #nodebate rightful winners recorded in history. Congrat Jack and Carissa.