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Pipe / Season Wash-Up 2017

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Pipe / Season Wash-Up 2017

Last updated December 23, 2017 by Balyn McDonald


In case you haven’t read the past few articles, Surf-stats will soon merge to become a part of a larger fantasy surfing site, fantasy surf sessions. All of our stats and analysis will be there, as well as the best fantasy game available.
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Is anyone else suffering from a tour-end hangover? The world title and qualification scenarios were swinging back and forth like sword of Damocles, judges seemed to be making things up as they went, and John, Gabe, Julian and Slater were playing their roles to perfection. Pipe was a crescendo. A party with absolutely no regard for how you’ll feel tomorrow.
Now it’s the morning after. There’so CT. No title race. No QS 1000s. Even the Junior World Championships are a few weeks away. The slate’s wiped clean, and March 11th is just too far away to let myself start getting excited about a new season.
At first I thought that the feeling I had every December was just me. In 2015, I attributed the hollow void that I was feeling to the fact that Mick was denied his rightful, fairy-tale finish. In 2016, I blamed the small Pipe waves and lack of world title hype. Now I know that it’s just a part of the cycle that we surf fans endure, and that I’m not alone. I knew the season-end hangover was coming this year, but it cruels me the same.

During his incredible coverage, Sean Doherty was repeatedly mourning the loss of Pipe as the season finale. His premature nostalgia was flowing for a future tour that moves Pipe to February, and I know that he has the inside information as to what’s coming, so I took his word as truth.

I see where he’s coming from, too; I am definitely sceptical of the whole Mentawais season-summed-up-in-a-single-contest proposal, especially when it comes at the cost of Pipe. A title showdown at Pipeline in December has become synonymous with the tour’s success.

The small truth that Sean avoided though is that we haven’t seen much ‘Pipe’ at the Pipe Masters these past few years. The late-season Volcom QS event consistently gets better conditions for ‘true’ Pipe waves and surely that’s one of the factors motivating the WSL to move it.

Another truth is that, yet again, the 2017 surfing world title was decided while the champion was on dry land. It was awkward and somewhat deflating, with the WSL live feed almost missing it completely. A single event with a dedicated final, a la Menawais, would solve this issue in one fell swoop. I just wonder if it’s coming at a cost that is too much for the sport to bear.



John John

The deserving champion.

John did it comfortably in the end, beating Medina by nearly 6000 points. His final total of 59600 was only 250 points short of his 2016 total, and he won that title with an event to spare.
Not everything went his way though. He didn’t win Pipe , which should at the very least fire him up for 2018. He only made 2 finals all season, winning Margies and losing Pipe.For comparison, he made 4 finals in 2016, winning two. Julian had the same level of finals success as JJF in 2017, while Medina won 2 events and made 3 finals.

John’s key was consistency, with no 25ths all year and only two throwaway 13ths, he didn’t lose a single R1 heat. He got 3rd or higher for 6/11 events and his worst counted results were 5ths (3 of them). John also topped both the winning percentage (76%) and AHS (15.85) for the season. In 2018, John won’t lose the title because he has failed to surf well, if he loses it, it will be because someone else has surfed even better.


Coming into Pipe, Medina hadn’t lost since Trestles. Then he got dead last in (a high scoring) R1 heat. He bounced back by burying Dusty, but had to rely on the good will of the judges to put the final piece of punctuation on Kerr’s career in R3. Gabriel lost again in R4, but bounced back again against Slater, comboing the champ early on before priority-slapping him with a barrel-ruining drop-in. In the end though, his inconsistent year was not enough to back up his 5th at Pipe.

Medina still has titles left in him, but he’ll need to stay focused for more than just a European season if he wants to convert his potential.


Two times Pipe Master. How good does that sound?

It’s an elite club, with only 7 other surfers to manage the feat in the 46 years of competition, including legends like Derek Ho and Gerry Lopez. Only Tom Carroll (3), Andy Irons (4) and Kelly Slater (7) have more Pipe titles, and their names are synonymous with the wave. Jeremy also has a Tahiti title to his name, so he’s in esteemed company when it comes to heavy reef breaks.
Flores was sensational all event, grinding out the gritty heats and starring in the big ones. His last-minute effort in the final was incredible, especially given the pressure of the situation. He beat Gabe twice on the final day, and kept John away from his rightful Pipe crown for another year.

Interestingly, Flores AHS was 3rd-best for the season, behind John and Gabriel. He just needs to convert it into more heat wins if he wants to be a genuine contender.


Does Kanoa’s 3rd place position him as the best surfer at Pipe? Hear me out:

He has, in his two years at the event, finished as 2nd and 3rd, with winning percentage of 69.23. In that time he has beaten Slater (x3), Jordy (x2), Julian, Owen, Italo, Leo, Connor O & Frederico. Kelly Slater is 0-3 against Kanoa at Pipe AND, after the 2017 event, now has a winning percentage of 69.04, placing him below Kanoa.

Sure, Kelly has 7 Pipe titles and 87 heat wins over 26 contests. And sure, Kanoa has 9 heat wins and no titles over two events, but don’t let the stats fool you, Igarashi is the new Pipe specialist.


He claimed his foot was at 65% and it definitely seemed that he was nursing it. But answer me this: wasn’t the event so much richer as a result of his presence? Who else could have turned a R5 flogging into a social media firestorm? Who else could have shut Jordy down without leaving 2nd gear?

Slater is still fundamental to the success of pro surfing, regardless of his chance of a title.


The waves were 4-6′ rights. What happened?

Ian Gouveia

3rd at Pipe? He was owned by 3% of WSL players, and 9% on FS. His 11th-hour heroics earned him a place on tour in 2018 just above Pupo.


Jules definitely got some of the best waves of the contest. After his R1 stumble (Stu’s only relevant part in the whole contest), he looked solid.

I’d love to see him surf a consistent year and be closer to the lead coming into Pipe next year, as I think he could do what was needed to get a result at Pipe when it mattered.


Is there a more exciting guy on tour? Italo was throwing Hail Mary airs all over the reef, keeping the punters guessing and his opponents shitting their pants.

Italo potentially requalified in what I believe to be a record 3 different ways this year: He finished top 22 on the CT, top 10 on the QS and he was definitely eligible for an injury wildcard if it was needed after missing 3 of the first four events. Has anyone ever done such a thing?

I think that the two wildcard spots for 2018 should have gone to Slater and “whoever the hell Italo chooses as it’s his spot we’re filling anyway”. Maybe they did, and he chose Ian?


Ethan copped a lot of flack for not winning a single heat at the beginning of the year, but he didn’t finish 25th once after the J-Bay event, with 5-straight 13ths to round-out the year. To put it in perspective, Leo also had 6x 25ths this season, where as Kerr had 7 and both Stu and Freestone had 8.

Ewing showed so much potential at times, has tons of respect from the other surfers on tour and he nearly beat John at Pipe (many say he did) to steal his title prospects. I can’t wait to see him refocused and back on tour soon.

Kerr / Bede

Two quality Australian surfers who will most definitely be missed on tour.

Bede’s comeback was eclipsed somewhat by Owen’s amazing story, but his efforts have been no less incredible. He is a Pipe Master, Trestles winner and Rio champ. His classic style was a hallmark of the tour for years.

Kerr would have to be one of the most talented surfers to never win a CT event. He had it all, from small-wave progression to big wave prowess (he won a BWWT event at Todos), Kerr was a threat at any venue. He probably suffered from surfing too conservatively later in his career, but ripped regardless.


Griffin Colapinto won the Vans Triple Crown (the first Californian to do so), despite being eliminated in the trials and not surfing in the Pipe event. The points he earned by surfing the Pipe trials gave him just enough to hold out a rampaging Conner Coffin. Griffin is coming into 2018 hot; he’s the top QS qualifier, the VTC champion and he’s only 19. I wonder if he’ll talk to Ethan Ewing…



Please, please, let Potz drop of the team for 2018.



There’s been so much time and effort dedicated to this already, so I’ll keep it short:

  1. Close heats are always going to seem unfair for one of the surfers. When it’s that tight, subjective scoring is always going to seem unfair. Two of the 3 judges gave Ewing the winning score.
  2. Waves surfed in the final minute always seem more critical and intense than in any other situation. Should they be marked up though?
  3. Gabe was just as lucky to scrape through against Kerr as JJF was against Ewing. If the WSL were pushing any agenda at all, it was to keep the race interesting, not to gift John a title.
  4. Parko’s 3.33 against Ian in the QF would have been a 7 at another venue on another day.


By the Numbers

154.09 – the WSL rule book article reference that Gabriel Medina was lucky to escape. Shall we read?

An interference can be called on a Surfer with Priority if, in the opinion of the Priority or Head Judge, the Surfer utilises their priority in an unsportsmanlike manner to intentionally block another surfer with lower or no Priority outside of the Primary Take-off Zone.

2 – John’s titles. Tyler’s titles. Flores’ Pipe wins. Times John John has finished 2nd at Pipe. John’s first names.

76 – percent of heats won by John John this season.

7 – the historical average placing for both Medina and Florence in the Pipe event (an exact tie). John’s is after 8 events, Gabe’s is after 6. Neither has won yet.

50 – points by which Connor O’Leary won the ROTY title over Frederico (29950 / 29900)

5/7 – 2017 rookies who will be on tour in 2018: Connor (13th), Frederico (14th), Joan (21st), Ian (23rd – wildcard) & Zeke (29th – qualified via QS). We lose Leo, and Ewing (for now).

6 – the number of new rookies on tour in 2018 (Griffin, Mendes, Carmichael, Yago, Hermas, Rodrigues).

11 – number of Brazilian surfers on the men’s tour full-time next year (Aus = 8, USA = 6, Haw = 4, Fra = 2, & 1 each from PRT, ZAF, PYF)

1.5 – the AHS for Stu Kennedy at Pipe this year after scoring 1.5 in R1 and then withdrawing due to injury.

1 – number of heats won at Pipe by Wiggolly Dantas in 3 events.

0 – number of heats won by Filipe in his past 3 events. In fact, since Fiji, Toledo has only had 1st or 25th results.

1 – (that I can find) perfect 10s thrown out by the judges since the famous J-Bay 10-fest.

100 – percent happier Filipe will be to know that Fiji has been replaced by Keramas in 2018.

0 – number of heats won by trialists at Pipe in the past two years.



Here are the QS, Wildcard and replacement listings for the men’s CT:

Clubhouse Results

What can I say? The numbers were only passable, with middle-of-the-road rankings across the men’s contests. That’s what happens when you only look at numbers and ignore common sense or fail to take risks.

The stats were more successful in the women’s contests though…

Congratulations to OliverYasbek in the FS private club, Mahos in the FS public club, and Gustavo in the WSL.


Best and Worst Teams

I promised that I’d bring this back, so I have:


We suggested John, Medina and Joel. Our numbers liked Flores and, though we missed it, didn’t mind Gouveia either. Other suggested surfers Conner and Kelly were just outside the top 8.

Caio was the biggest surprise, which is why so few picked him. Kanoa is one to watch (see above).


I warned against many of these, including Jadson and Wiggolly for conditions, and Stu and Owen for form. Frederico and Filipe were the only surfers who had any popularity amongst players.


Event awards

Best wave: If we’re talking social media traction, it was Kelly 6.83 against Medina. Granted, it could have possibly been a 10 if Kelly had continued uninterrupted. If you’re going for quality of surfing though, John’s 8.73 to take out Gouveia had it all, including some deft foam negotiation and a buttery air reverse over the shallows.

Best heat: Slater vs. Gabe was entertaining, and others were tense, but the final was the winner. Sure, the tite had been decided, but it had an average wave score in the excellent range, plenty of significance for both surfers and it had a magnificent buzzer-beater moment for the winner. Watch it here.

Best Manoeuvre: Leo Fioravanti’s 7.1 full-rotation in R3, H10 surprised even him (check the Heat Analyser). Italo and Gabe went for some monster airs, but neither stuck one big enough to challenge Leo. The biggest manoeuvre of the event goes to Gabe’s priority play against Kelly. The WSL don’t have the heat up on their replay videos, but you can watch the Heat Analyser as many times as you wish.

Most impressive: Ian G surprised, Italo was full of energy, Kanoa keeps winning heats, John John was almost flawless. however, the prize has to go to Flores this time; he was phenomenal in some of his behind-the-foamball efforts this event and he has now managed to do something twice that John is yet to achieve.

Thank you to all of our readers who have donated and read along this year. The generous donations have meant that the site has broken even so far as running an maintenance costs, which is all that I could ask. The rest I’ve done not for profit, but because I love it.

I sincerely hope that you’ll follow me across to my new venture, as it’s the sum of a lot of planning and hard work. It promises to be bigger, better and more rewarding for fantasy fans than any of the current games in existence.


Kind regards,


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