AND WE ARE BACK!
After two days of incontestable conditions everyone and their best friend was eager to get Round 1 of the Billabong Pipe Masters started. And fortunately, we awoke to beautiful Pipeline conditions: a 6 - 8 foot NNW - WNW combo swell paired with light trades was providing both Backdoor and traditional Pipe options.
Before anyone could finish their first coffee of the morning the contest was called ON. In the Trials Finals Reef McIntosh bagged a Backdoor beauty en route to victory and a shot at the Pipe Masters crown. Makai McNamara advanced alongside Reef into the main event thanks to his 2nd place finish, Jamie O'Brien followed in 3rd and Hank Gaskell in 4th.
By the end of the Day 15 Heats were surfed: the Trials Finals, Round 1, The Women's Pipe Invitational and the Heritage Heat. It was a day of lots of barrels, upsets, wipeouts, and a lot of mindsurfing.
Scroll down for photos, footage and the stories from Day 1 of the Billabong Pipe Masters.
Um, yes please! Photo: Pat Stacy
Fans gathered early and eagerly. Photo: Duncan Macfarlane
The scene of the crime, or the scene of the crowning. A World Champ and Pipe Master will be crowned here soon. The only question is, when? Photo: Duncan Macfarlane
Joel's been frothing on the four fin set up at Backdoor this winter. Photo: Duncan Macfarlane
Makai McNamara made this Backdoor barrel to claim an 8.93 and a spot in the main event. Photo: Duncan Macfarlane
Joel mindsurfing from close up. Photo: Duncan Macfarlane
Joel actually surfing, inside a beautiful and what would be long barrel. Photo: Duncan Macfarlane
John John caught the wave of the morning warm-ups and backed it up with a 18.16 heat total. Kid's got skillz. Photo: ASP/Cestari
Sebastian Zietz has a good relationship with Backdoor and it showed in his Round 1 victory. Photo: Duncan Macfarlane
Kelly Slater lost to Adam Melling by .10. You could say it's been that kind of year for the King...cause it really has been. Photo: ASP/Cestari
Backdoor was going square all day long. Photo: Duncan Macfarlane
Mick Fanning kept his title hopes alive with a narrow Round 1 victory over Aritz Aranburu. Photo: ASP/Cestari
Meanwhile, down at Off-the-Wall Jack Robinson was having a grand ol' time packing barrel after barrel after...barrel. Photo: Pat Stacy