Breakdown to the Showdown
Photo above by Timo Jarvinen.
Historically at Surf Ears, we are not strictly competitive surf-crazed fans, biting on our nails every time the next WSL event draws near. To be honest we probably get more of a kick out of some unknown surfer doing a serious hack in the pocket of an unknown wave off the beaten track somewhere. Despite this, we can’t lie in saying that we are not a little bit excited about the events that are about to kick off at the Pipeline Masters in a few days, the final stop of the Mens WSL Championship Tour. Like us, you should maybe be a little bit excited, as this is no 4ft beach break, prime for a couple of hits to the beach. It’s Pipe, and we are going to crown a World Champion.
Pipeline has dished out some of the best rides and beatings in the history of surfing, both in and out of the competitive jersey and it is almost worthy to say that you don’t win the Pipe Masters, Pipe picks the winner. Obviously, there are some clear standouts at the wave, but ultimately many times in the past Pipe has had the final say, which consequently plays a major role in who will be crowned World Champion. Many World Title showdowns have come down to a few heats and even a single wave at the event, most notably the Kelly vs Andy battle in 2003, the infamous Kelly and Machado High 5 in 1995 and Barton Lynch’s title in 1988. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Surf fans have been starved in the last 2 years with the freak John Florence wrapping up the world title in the European leg of the tour, before reaching his home break of Pipe. But once again, Pipe will have a final say on who will be World Champion in 2018. Heading into the competition, only three surfers can claim the world title, Gabriel Medina, Julian Wilson and Felipe Toledo. The maths behind who will be crowned the winner is simple. If Medina makes the final or wins the event he will be crowned World Champion for the second time. If he is knocked out in the semifinals, Wilson and Toledo must win the event to become World Champion. If he is knocked out in the quarterfinals, Wilson and Toledo must make the finals of the event. And if Medina is knocked out early in the event, Wilson and Toledo must still make the final to win the World Title. Simple yeah?
The biggest star at Pipe is the wave itself. Photo by @barrel_junkie
With all the maths and mumbo-jumbo aside, let’s just pray Pipe is pumping, with some drainers also running through backdoor. If this is the case, then your not wrong in thinking that it will be a 2 horse race between Wilson and Medina, who have momentum going into the competition and have proven themselves at sliding into serious tubes at heavier waves like Pipe, but don’t count out Toledo. There may also be a few spoilers, with Kelly Slater throwing his name in the mix after coming back from injury, Joel Parkinson looking for the fairytale finish before heading into retirement and a bunch of rippers looking to re-qualify for next year. Unfortunately, John Florence has pulled out of the event today, someone who could have really shaken the world title race up. But this only leaves the door open for some other potential wildcards including Jamie O’brien and Jack Robinson who are just as deadly at surfing the wave. Actions kicks off on the 8th of December. It’s going to be another good week of surfing.
Words by Sam Shearer.
Kelly and Machado’s high five.
John John will sure be missed at this years Pipe, but hopefully we’ll see some drama similar to the Volcom Pipe Pro event back in 2012.