Pipeline produces monster show
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Dayton Morinaga
Fitting for a surfing contest called the Monster Energy Pro, the waves were big and nasty yesterday.
The second day of the three-day event was run in traditional wave heights of 10 to 15 feet at the famous Banzai Pipeline.
"It's really crazy Pipeline," Kaua'i surfer Aamion Goodwin said. "There's a lot of wash-throughs. You really have to pick your waves."
The second round and most of the third round were completed yesterday. There was an equal mix of scary wipeouts and scintillating barrel rides.
Jamie Sterling of O'ahu's North Shore epitomized the day during his third-round victory. He scored a 7.0 midway through the heat for a nice barrel ride, and then survived a disastrous closeout wave that slammed him toward the shallow reef.
"It's pretty unorganized Pipeline," Sterling said. "It was really challenging. You really had to throw yourself over the ledge on some of them."
Yesterday's conditions were actually the "leftovers" from a giant swell that hit the North Shore on Sunday. Some big-wave surfers like Sterling warmed up for the contest by riding the huge waves Sunday.
"It was a 30-foot northwest swell (on Sunday), and I think the ocean is still kind of grilling the surfers today," he said. "But this is about a third of the size of the waves I did (Sunday), so that kind of boosts my confidence, knowing I've been in tougher conditions."
The Hawai'i surfers were the standouts of the day.
The North Shore's Pancho Sullivan moved one step closer toward successfully defending the Monster Energy Pro title by advancing through his third-round heat. He avoided elimination by catching a wave in the closing seconds of the heat.
"I knew there wasn't much time left, so when I saw that wave bending on the reef, I knew I pretty much had to take that wave," he said. "I had to hope it would do something, and fortunately it had a quick little barrel."
Sullivan needed a 3.93 to advance in the closing minutes of the heat, and he received a 5.03 for his last-second wave.
"In the early rounds like this, you don't have to have the heat of the contest," he said. "Just getting through and giving yourself another chance to build momentum is enough."
Goodwin also had a solid heat, receiving scores of 8.5 and 6.63 for his two best rides. His heat was the closest of the day, with all four surfers reaching double-digit points.
"The competition is crazy," Goodwin said. "Everyone surfs so good out here. You really just have to be lucky and pick the right waves."
Waialua's Sean Moody placed second to Goodwin and also advanced to the fourth round. In the preliminary rounds, the top two surfers from each four-man heat advance. Moody's two best waves received scores of 6.5 and 6.23.
"I looked at my heat and knew it was a pretty good heat," he said. "I was nervous, for sure. Those guys are all good."
Tamayo Perry of Hau'ula had the best total score of the day with a 17.83 in the second round. However, he sustained a knee injury and had to withdraw from his third-round heat.
Other standouts from Hawai'i included Jason Shibata, Reef McIntosh, Jamie O'Brien, Mark Healey, Dustin Barca, Fred Patacchia Jr., Makua Rothman, Sage Huls and Hank Gaskell.
Damon Harvey of Australia and Rob Machado of California were the only non-Hawai'i surfers to win third-round heats.
The event is expected to finish today, conditions permitting. For status of the contest, call 596-7873 or visit www.billabongpro.com.
The contest is part of surfing's World Qualifying Series. World champion Kelly Slater of Florida and No. 2 Andy Irons of Kaua'i are not entered.
Reach Dayton Morinaga at email@example.com.