– Michel Bourez wins Billabong Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons
– John John Florence Wins 3rd Vans Triple Crown of Surfing Title
– Rookie Kanoa Igarashi Claims Runner-Up Finish at First Pipe Masters
– More Information Available at Worldsurfleague.Com
South Africa’s Jordy Smith has ended No. 2 on the 2016 Jeep Rankings after reaching the quarter-finals of the Billabong Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons, the final stop on the Samsung Galaxy WSL Championship Tour (CT) at Pipeline in Hawaii on Monday.
Smith’s fifth place finish in the event earned the Durbanite 5,200 points, sufficient to overtake 2014 WSL champion Gabriel Medina (BRA), but still well short of John John Florence (HAW) who clinched his maiden world title at the penultimate event of the season in Portugal in October.
Smith, who was granted a wildcard into the 2016 CT season after an injury-wracked 2015, won the event at Trestles in California, finished runner-up at Bells Beach, third in Portugal and fifth at Jeffreys Bay and Pipeline to match his previous best yearend result of runner-up to Kelly Slater (USA) in 2010.
The first event victory of his career in Hawaii at the QS10,000 rated World Cup at Sunset Beach two weeks ago, combined with a 25th place in the Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa and fifth at Pipeline also earned Smith the runner-up spot behind Florence in the prestigious Vans Triple Crown of Surfing rankings.
Smith started the final day in hollow one to two metre waves at Pipeline by defeating Alex Ribeiro (BRA) in Round 3 before finishing second behind rookie Kanoa Igarashi (USA) in Round 4. After narrowly defeating Nat Young (USA) with an excellent last minute ride in Round 5, Smith posted a heat total of 15.74 (out of 20) in the quarter-final but could not overcome Igarashi’s 18.03 which included a near perfect 9.93 point score for arguably the longest tube ride of the day.
“We come here to get barreled and that’s what happened,” Smith said after his quarter-final loss. “He [Kanoa Igarashi] just got more barreled than I did. I think it just came down to that one last score. I gave him that wave on the inside that apparently just kept funneling across. The wave looked very small to me when I paddled in, but apparently he got nice and deep.”
“To be honest, all around it has been an amazing year for me. This time last year I did not expect to be here as I’d just came fresh off an injury. To finish the year in second is amazing.“
Michel Bourez (PYF) won the Billabong Pipe Masters after defeating Igarashi in the final, his best result of the season and only the second time that the Tahitian made it into the final series (last eight) this year. Victory today also marks the third CT victory of his career and earned Bourez 10,000 points which sees him finish the 2016 season in 6th place on the Jeep Leaderboard.
“I still don’t believe it,” said Bourez. “I’m just happy to be here. Last year I got injured and it was really tricky and tough for me to come back. I almost dropped off tour. I worked really hard at home and tried to stay positive the whole time. I had my baby after Portugal, so I had to travel back and forth during Europe, which was tough.”
Bourez, who previously dispatched Kolohe Andino (USA), John John Florence (HAW) and Filipe Toledo (BRA) before taking on Igarashi in the Final, can add a win at Pipeline to previous wins at Haleiwa and Sunset. Only Hawaiian legends Derek Ho and Andy Irons have also achieved this feat.
“John [Florence] is incredible,” said Bourez. “I’ve lost the Triple Crown twice because of him so that was a little payback. I knew I had to push my level even higher to beat John so that’s what I did. We had such a good day today – Backdoor was pumping and I’m stoked. This is the biggest event to win for a surfer and I did it!”
In his first Pipe Masters appearance, Igarashi has set the bar for the 2017 rookies. At 19-years-old, Igarashi is the youngest competitor on the CT and made a splash this season. Today’s runner-up finish marks Igarashi’s best result this year after a run of 13th place finishes on tour and a 9th at the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast. Igarashi took down 11-time WSL Champion Kelly Slater (USA) and Jordy Smith (ZAF) before facing Bourez in the Final. Igarashi moves up to 20th on the rankings.
“This is a dream come true,” said Igarashi. “To be in that Final with Michel [Bourez] was really cool. It is something I will never forget. The one moment that really stands out to me is in the Semifinals with Kelly [Slater]. I kind of rubbed the heat off and he was in his rhythm. A big set came in that closed out everywhere and I thought that was going to be my last chance. Right at the end, this crazy wave out of nowhere came in. I laughed because I did not believe it. I stalled as hard as I could and once I came out I fell into shock. I am really proud of myself and cannot wait for next year.”
Slater, the most dominant surfer in this event with seven Pipe Masters titles, will end his season with a 3rd place finish. Slater’s 2016 season saw him claim victory at the Billabong Pro Tahiti and a 3rd place result at the Fiji Pro. The American superstar will start the 2017 season in 7th place on the rankings.
“It’s Kanoa’s day, I hope he wins,” Slater said. “It’s his first time in the Pipe Masters and he’s made the Final, which is pretty sick. He just won the Triple Crown for John [Florence] and put Zeke Lau (HAW) on tour. Both the Finalists have been really on fire today. I did everything I possibly could in that heat to win but the waves just came to Kanoa. I’m excited for next year. I’m feeling pretty good and I’ve been making some headway with getting myself physically into shape. I think I’ve been surfing well. It’s turning more and more into a chess game now and that’s how heats are playing out.”
2016 WSL Champion John John Florence (HAW) was eliminated by Bourez in the Quarterfinals. Although he will end his season with a 5th place at Pipe, the Hawaiian has made history with his win at the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational earlier this year, clinching of the World Surfing Title in Portugal and victory at the Hawaiian Pro, the first event of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. Florence will lead the elite 34 coming into the 2017 season, which will kick off on the Gold Coast in March.
Florence also capped off his year by winning the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing for the third time in his career.
“It’s been the best year of my life and thank you to everyone that has supported me,” said Florence. “I have had an amazing year and it was a little unfortunate that in that heat I made a couple of mistakes. The waves are really fun right now and I am just stoked to be home and to finish the year. It has been a long year. Now I can just go surfing and take a break for a while.”
Kolohe Andino (USA) was also edged out by eventual winner Bourez in a tough Semifinal match-up. Andino took the early lead with a 13.93 combined score, but Bourez locked in a 15.37 for the slight advantage. The American previously dispatched 2010 Pipe Master Jeremy Flores (FRA) in Round 5 and finished equal 3rd in the event.
The world’s best surfers will return in 2017 with the kick-off event on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia in March.
Highlights from the Billabong Pipe Masters available at WorldSurfLeague.com as well as the WSL App.
For more information, check out WorldSurfLeague.com
Billabong Pipe Masters Final Results:
1: Michel Bourez (PYF) 7.53
2: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 6.17
Billabong Pipe Masters Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Michel Bourez (PYF) 15.37 def. Kolohe Andino (USA) 13.93
SF 2: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 15.50 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 15.00
Billabong Pipe Masters Quarterfinal Results:
QF 1: Kolohe Andino (USA) 14.87 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 12.67
QF 2: Michel Bourez (PYF) 17.20 def. John John Florence (HAW) 14.00
QF 3: Kelly Slater (USA) 11.50 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 10.24
QF 4: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 18.03 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 15.74
Billabong Pipe Masters Round 5 Results:
Heat 1: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 15.17 def. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 4.53
Heat 2: Michel Bourez (PYF) 16.80 def. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 15.50
Heat 3: Kelly Slater (USA) 14.34 def. Ryan Callinan (AUS) 10.17
Heat 4: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 18.10 def. Nat Young (USA) 16.17
Billabong Pipe Masters Round 4 Results:
Heat 1: Kolohe Andino (USA) 13.66, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 10.16, Filipe Toledo (BRA) 5.00
Heat 2: John John Florence (HAW) 11.00, Michel Bourez (PYF) 9.17, Joel Parkinson (AUS) 8.83
Heat 3: Josh Kerr (AUS) 9.24, Ryan Callinan (AUS) 2.77, Nat Young (USA) 1.57
Heat 4: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 12.00, Jordy Smith (ZAF) 11.34, Kelly Slater (USA) 2.24
Billabong Pipe Masters Round 3 Results:
Heat 12: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 15.34 def. Alex Ribeiro (BRA) 1.93
Top 5 on the 2016 WSL Jeep Leaderboard (after Billabong Pipe Masters):
1. John John Florence (HAW) 59,850 pts
2. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 46,400 pts
3. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 45,450 pts
4. Kolohe Andino (USA) 44,150 pts
5. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 39,500 pts
NOTE: Complimentary high resolution images and broadcast quality video footage are available on request for media outlets
About the World Surf League
The World Surf League (WSL), formerly the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP), is dedicated to celebrating the world’s best surfing on the world’s best waves through a variety of best-in-class audience platforms. The League, headquartered in Santa Monica, is a truly global sport with regional offices in Australasia, Africa, North America, South America, Hawaii, Japan and Europe.
The WSL has been championing the world’s best surfing since 1976, running global events across the Samsung Galaxy Men’s and Women’s Championship Tours, the Big Wave Tour, Qualifying Series, Junior and Longboard Championships, as well as the WSL Big Wave Awards. The League possesses a deep appreciation for the sport’s rich heritage while promoting progression, innovation and performance at the highest levels.
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