It only took the first three days of the twelve day waiting period to complete the 2011 Billabong Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons. This event was easily the most exciting event of the entire year. The waves pumped for three straight days and the world’s best surfed their asses off. Australian Kieren Perrow, who made it all the way to the finals at last year’s Pipe Masters finally got a win at a world tour event after being on tour for 9 years by defeating fellow Aussie Joel Parkinson in the finals.
Not only did Perrow win his first contest but he also solidified a spot for himself on the 2012 world tour and Kieren was overjoyed.
“It took me up until now to get over getting second to Jeremy last year” Perrow said. “It’s so good to get back here. I just felt so comfortable the whole time. I’ve had such a great event anyway and coming in to today, it was just amazing. The waves have been phenomenal. I haven’t surfed Pipe like that in my entire career. This is pretty much the pinnacle for me.”
The final day of saw some really exciting heats including this year’s runner-up, Joel Parkinson, knocking off Hawaiian Pipe specialist Jamie O’Brien. Parko then went on to win against the 11 time champ, Kelly Slater in their semifinal heat.
“I knew my work was cut out for me,” Parkinson said. “Surfing against Kelly (Slater) is the biggest thing you can do. After he got that 9, I thought, ‘here we go.’ I thought he peaked against John John and he was just at it again. That wave just came to me. It was one of those situations where you forget about everything else, am I in the right position, am I doing anything right. Conditions are not perfect at all, but there are some really good waves.”
Even though Parko lost in the finals he was more than stoked for Kieren.
“It’s a hard one to lose because you’ve only got one guy to beat and you’ve beaten so many, but it’s the hardest one to win,” Parkinson said. “I couldn’t think of anyone more deserving than Kieren (Perrow). He’s a true Pipe Master and one of the best guys out there and I’m so glad he won.”
With less than 5 minutes left in quarterfinal heat number two, John John Florecence had Kelly Slater combod and it looked like Florence had the win locked up. But in true champion fashion, Slater got two waves that put him ahead of the 19-year-old Hawaiian by 0.83 points and stole the win.
“I was just going to try and have some fun because I didn’t want to run and I thought we’d find another day,” Slater said. “I figured I’d try and get in that head space and I’d ride a short board and I actually got a really good left and my board was wrong for it. I thought it was going to cost me the heat. It just came to me in last three-or-four minutes. I’m just trying to hold John John (Florence)at bay because he’s going to rule Pipe for the next 20 years. I just want to get a couple before I’m done. He’s been the man to beat out here. He’s had two 10s and a couple of high 9’s.”
Although John John lost to Kelly Slater in the semis, by making it that far into the contest he gained enough points to secure his first every Van’s Triple Crown of Surfing win. Florence, at 19 years-old, is the youngest surfer to win the prestigious award since Derek Ho did it in 1984 at the age of 20. John John put on an amazing performance throughout the entire Triple Crown as he finished 5th at the Reef Hawaiian Pro, 1st at the Van’s World Cup of Surfing, and had two perfect 10 point rides at the Pipe Masters.
“I’m so stoked to be here, I’ve been surfing these waves my entire life and watching everyone over the years,” Florence said. “I’m so happy that I won this and to have my name with everyone else who has won over the years. I just want to say thanks to my Mom and Pancho Sullivan and John Pyzel and all my sponsors. Thanks to everyone.”
All in all the event was great and it was just the way the world tour should end every year. Below are the final day highlights, results, and photos. For more from this contest check out vanstriplecrownofsurfing.com/billabongpipemasters2011.
QF 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 12.00 def. Jamie O’Brien (HAW) 9.43
QF 2: Kelly Slater (USA) 17.53 def. John John Florence (HAW) 16.70
QF 3: Michel Bourez (PYF) 7.70 def. Evan Valiere (HAW) 3.66
QF 4: Kieren Perrow (AUS) 17.23 def. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 9.26
SF 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 17.23 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 16.83
SF 2: Kieren Perrow (AUS) 12.00 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 4.07
1 – Kieren Perrow (AUS) 13.17
2 – Joel Parkinson (AUS) 7.00