NORTH SHORE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Billabong Pipe Masters, the final stop of the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT) and third gem of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, began today in tricky and treacherous 8 to 10 foot waves. The morning rain made way for sunshine and the first heat hit the water by 8AM, which saw 30-minute heats and a non-elimination, 4-man format.
North Shore's Mason Ho surfed in Heat 2 against Jadson Andre (BRA) and Maui's Dusty Payne, and advanced directly into Round 3 while his competitors are left to battle it out in Round 2.
Former Pipe Masters champ Jamie O'Brien (HAW) had a great heat, posting a 7.33 to bump him ahead of current No. 2 on the CT, Filipe Toledo (BRA), and Kolohe Andino (USA).
Kauai boys Bruce Irons and Sebastian Zietz went up against CT leader Mick Fanning, who dominated the heat with a 9.43 to advance through to Round 3. Both Irons and Zietz will surf in Round 2, with Irons up first in Heat 1 against Toledo, and Zietz competing against Jadson Andre (BRA) in Heat 8.
C.J. Hobgood posted the only 10-point ride of the day with an incredible barrel that he narrowly escaped from. This is Hobgood's swan song, as the Florida native plans to retire from the CT after 2015. CJ went up against Australia's Taj Burrow and Kelly Slater (USA), who will both surf again in Round 2.
North Shore's John John Florence had an impressive heat against Nat Young (USA) and Brett Simpson (USA), giving the beach crowd a show with an 8.33 barreling wave followed by a backside full rotation air.
The excitement built throughout the day as the top surfers in the world competed at one of the best waves on the planet, but by 2pm the winds picked up and the surf turned unruly, so contest organizers called it off for the remainder of the day. The next call is tomorrow at 7AM, with Round 2 hitting the water by 8AM.