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12.12.04 - BEAU’S FINAL FLING
11.12.04 - GETTING PRIMED

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13.12.04 - BENT PIPE
From Sarge, Rip Curl Pipeline Masters, North Shore Hawaii.

Tom Curren
Tommy Curren got two great pits from his prolonged Pipeline hunt this morning.

LOOKING at the big swell pounding into Pipe, unmanned at very first light, was eerie. Nathan Hedge had been watching it materialise from the darkness since 530am, the slowly creeping light progressively providing definition beyond exploding white water and the booming sound of crashing walls. He had been joined by Phil Macdonald on the balcony of the Rip Curl team house, and sat there in silent vigil trying to assess conditions. The swell was obviously up as predicted, but as Hog observed in the still faint light at 620am, “I’ve only seen two you could have come out of”. As the clear sky continued to lighten, crew started paddling out into the wild lineup. After a time, in-between some bone chilling thumpings, some waves started opening up, occasionally allowing surfers to drop, run the walls and occasionally emerge from the wombs of thrashing energy. The low yield seemed overlooked though, as event workers started setting up banners on the beach. It was obvious the event had been called on.

Tamayo Perry
After something like 40 minutes of shuffling around and waiting for a decent wave after the heats were put on hold this morning, Tamayo Perry ended up scoring this beauty.

Just before 8am, Jake Paterson, Shane Beschen and Pat O’Connell had paddled out for heat one of the Rip Curl Pipeline Masters, but then Sunny Garcia had appeared there amongst them on the back of a jetski, announcing that it was only a minority from up in the tower that considered the conditions consistent or safe enough for the contest to start. The boys surrendered their singlets, as it was announced that proceedings were being placed on hold for an hour. WPS surfers’ rep Jake Paterson was called into consult with Head Judge Perry Hatchett. Pat O’Connell found a smaller clean inside wave but got clamped at the end of his short run, twisting his back. Beschen went pigdog a few minutes later, the roof coming down on him too, and came up with a snapped board.

Shane Beschen
Shane Beschen paddled out for his heat just before 8am, but after proceedings were then put on hold he eventually returned to shore without either a result or a board.

“We’re going to be sitting here for a few hours yet,” declared Kauai’s Kaiborg Garcia about an hour later as he watched set after set range into the takeoff zone peaking to be nothing but furious closeouts. Out there amongst the big roving walls that were as big as buildings, and repeated massive wash-throughs, surfers were trying to pick the few rideable ones, but it was like a frustrating treasure hunt. It seemed like there were three swells running, the energy coming from all directions, breaking and smashing into the contest arena with no regulation or form. The huge amount of sand still covering the reef probably wasn’t helping conditions, but the ocean was behaving like a temperamental teaser.

Tom Curren
Tom Curren was the crowd's darling for the day. He was out there for almost three hours whilst proceedings were on hold, and came up with some nice drops and two beautiful pigdog pits. The king got the rare gems.

“Tamayo Perry and Randall Paulson are out there, and they’ll catch anything that moves, but their not getting nothing!” the big but good-natured enforcer continued. Tamayo eventually ended up scoring and surviving a good sizeable pit before Kelly Slater, Tom Curren and Bernado Pigmeu paddled out with an ever-expanding cast of people joining the hunt for rideable waves. Both the multiple world champs and the young Brasileiro sensation eventually scored great waves, beautiful pits in fact, but they were just so rare as the hours ticked by. Thriving on the infrequent waves that are the stuff that Pipeline imagery is made of, both the crowd and the surfers willed the waves to consistency and predictable form, but Mother Ocean refused to co-operate.

Bernado Pigmeu
Bernado Pigmeu got two of the cleanest barrels of the morning; one of them
would have been real close to a ten. The young Brasileiro is making huge
impressions this season on the North Shore.

As officials and surfers monitored the sets and hunters in the lineup, wanting to have six waves of reasonable scoring potential, enough for a 30 minute three-man heat before giving the go-ahead, the standby was extended four times to an eventual announcement at 1130am that the event was postponed for the day. Just before the announcement, Randall Paulson had charged a long section and disappeared for several seconds before emerging with the spit to the large crowd’s stoke, but again there just weren’t enough gems. Cruelly, a good three or four wave set came through straight after the cancellation call, but then immediately thereafter, as though the elements were sanctioning the decision, the formerly still wind rose quickly into a strong and sustained onshore, reducing the lineup to stormy ‘lost at sea’ conditions. To appease the crowd who seemed totally disinterested in moving, three Fosters expression session heats were put out into the raging mess, but very few rides were taken, none even close to the calibre that Pipe is renowned for. The boys had made the right call.

Jake Paterson, Keiren Perrow, Neil Ridgway, Randy Rarick, Perry Hatchett
It was a long and agonising process of determination trying to work out whether the exceptionally inconsistent conditions were ample enough to run the event. In the end, (L to R) Jake Paterson and Kieren Perrow, Rip Curl's Neil Ridgway and Triple Crown Director Randy Rarick, with Head Judge Perry Hatchett, called the event off for the day.

“It was one of the toughest ever calls to make” lamented WPS rep’ Kieren Perrow, who had been amongst those consulting in the tower on the decision, after having paddled out earlier attempting to find some good ones with the rest of the hopeful crew. “In those 30 minute segments we were watching, you’d see one 10, but then all the rest were two pointers. Personally, I would have been excited to surf a heat if we had to, just in the hope of getting one of those good ones, but I had to put my personal preferences aside for the fact that if we had surfed, most of the guys would have been left way short on their wave counts” added Kieren, who is a humble but charging maniac in any conditions.

Beau Emerton
Strong onshores made the already dodgy conditions less than contestable, and when the Fosters Expression Session heats went out, it was largely a case of survival stance in the wobbly and treacherous 'lost at sea conditions'.

The swell is expected to drop and tidy up overnight, which should hopefully allow the event to start tomorrow morning. We need the bends in the Pipe straightened out. A monster swell is predicted for Wednesday, said to potentially be in the 25-35’range, the biggest waves to hit the North Shore since 1998, possibly calling the Quiksilver Eddie Aikau on, and having many book air tickets to Maui to expectantly take on Jaws. Beyond that, there is heaps of roaming storm activity out in the north Pacific, as evidenced by the tip of the energy that started bombarding us with those crossed-up multiple swells complicating life today. With a week still remaining in the Rip Curl waiting period, there’s no need for alarm bells yet.
ENDS