HONOLULU - (Jan. 29, 2012) -- Conditions settled down at the Banzai Pipeline today and yesterday's death-defying closeouts were replaced by long, hollow tubes at the Volcom Pipe Pro. California's Chris Ward and Costa Rican Carlos Munoz put on incredible performances at Backdoor that saw them clearly emerge the pacesetters.
A $130,000 5-star Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) event, the Volcom Pipe Pro still has two days of competition to run before crowning the 2012 champion. The defending champion is John John Florence (Hawaii), who will make his debut on the next day of surfing.
Above: Carlos Munoz (Costa Rica) en-route to his ELECTRIC Perfect 10.
Photo: Courtesy Volcom/Carey
"This is one of my dreams and I'm so stoked to make the 10 and to make my heat as well," said Munoz. "I felt like the wave was going to be a close-out but I just run, run, run the tube and I can get out. It's amazing and I can't believe it. I really don't have words to explain. Amazing!
"I heard about the $1,000 before but I didn't know that I was going to win it. I'm trying to get good scores here and then maybe I'll start traveling to get points for the pro tour."
Chris Ward, 33, who placed third in the final here last year, logged the highest heat score of the contest so far with a total of 19 points out of a possible 20. Counting a 9.57 and a 9.43 as his best two waves, Ward even had a third 'throwaway' wave of 9.0.
"I haven't really surfed since I injured my knee," said Ward. "I surfed a couple of heats in China and then stayed off it until today. I guess it paid off because you get hungry and you want to catch good waves. I didn't want to go on any bad waves and I guess it worked, I lucked out.
"I've been coming here to Hawaii since I was 12. Being around the local guys and the legends... learning from the best in good waves... you learn a lot surfing with your favorite surfers. Being out at Pipe when the conditions are good tests your ability. Any heats at Pipe are amazing - just three guys out, so I'm looking forward to more heats."
Peruvian Gabriel Villaran was the third-highest scorer today, with 17.07 points. He was rock solid on the lefts of Pipeline and is feeling confident of a good-showing this year.
"I made a final here in 2006, so I know what it takes to make it all the way," said Villaran. "Today's a great day and hopefully I keep the mojo going through the whole event. When the wave is big, I prefer to go left because I feel more secure. But if the right Backdoor wave comes to me, I'm not going to hesitate.
"I look forward to seeing John John surfing here. He really knows what's going on."
On the local front, Hawaii's Torrey Meister was the top scorer of the regular Pipeline chargers with 15.67 points.
"Today it's a little more manageable so I'm glad they decided to hold off yesterday," said Meister. "I surf this wave a lot. I like Backdoor a lot and I felt like I could sit a little more wide and pick off a few. It worked. I want to get in the Pipe Masters and this qualifies you for it, and it's an opportunity to surf Pipeline."
Organizers will assess the conditions at first light tomorrow to determine if there will be an 8am start. Two more days of competition remain.
Surfers shown in order of 1st through 4th. Scores shown are based on each surfer's best 2 rides and are out of a maximum 20 points.
H3: Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR) 11.40pts; Jeremy Johnston (USA) 8.94pts ; David Wassel (HAW) 5.80pts; Landon McNamara (HAW) 2.77pts
H4:Flynn Novak (HAW) 11.90pts ; Koa Smith (HAW) 7.86pts ; Gregg Nakamura (HAW) 5.93pts ; Solomon Ortiz (HAW) 5.76pts
H5: Anthony Walsh (AUS) 11.57pts ; Parker Coffin (USA) 9.17pts ; TJ Barron (HAW) 7.47pts ; Kaimana Jaquias (HAW) 3.10pts
H6: Liam McNamara (HAW) 7.80pts ; Carlos Munoz (CRI) 7.50pts ; Jonah Morgan (HAW) 5.83pts ; Eli Olson (HAW) 5.10pts
H7: Danny Fuller (HAW) 12.23pts ; Alexander Gray (USA) 8.77pts ; Kawai Lindo (HAW) 5.30pts ; Dylan Southworth (MEX) 3.94pts
H8: Koa Rothman (HAW) 13.76pts ; Brett Barley (USA) 9.12pts ; Alex Smith (HAW) 5.10pts ; Nathan Florence (HAW) 4.20pts
H1: Torrey Meister (HAW) 15.67pts ; Billy Kemper (HAW) 12.80pts ; Oliver Kurtz (USA) 12.07pts ; Love Hodel (HAW) 5.27pts
H2: Nils Schweizer (USA) 15.60pts ; Kevin Sullivan (HAW) 11.07pts ; Mikey Bruneau (HAW) 10.50pts ; Teppei Tajima (JPN) 5.57pts
H3: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 12.50pts ; Derek Peters (USA) 10.16pts ; Chris Foster (HAW) 8.50pts ; Taylor Thome (USA) 2.83pts
H4: Makai McNamara (HAW) 10.44pts ; Dane Gudauskas (USA) 8.93pts; Fisher Heverly (USA) 6.83pts ; Manuel Selman (CHL) 5.43pts
H5: Tanner Hendrickson (HAW) 11.83pts ; Ramz Boukhiam (MAR) 9.53pts ; Sunny Garcia (HAW) 8.63pts ; Dennis Tihara (BRA) 7.33pts
H6: Gabriel Villaran (PER) 17.07pts ; Tyler Newton (HAW) 12.76pts ; Jeremy Johnston (USA) 9.34pts ; Jesse Merle-Jones (HAW) 7.40pts
H7: Gavin Gillette (HAW) 10.84pts ; Flynn Novak (HAW) 9.74pts ; Makuakai Rothman (HAW) 4.90pts ; Yujiro Tsuji (JPN) 3.77pts
H8: Koa Smith (HAW) 13.23pts ; Jamie O'Brien (HAW) 11.07pts ; Brad Ettinger (USA) 10.93pts ; Angelo Lozano (MEX) 2.04pts
H9: Anthony Walsh (AUS) 7.00pts ; Stephen Walsh (AUS) 6.46pts ; Dane Anderson (USA) 6.33pts ; Matt Pagan (USA) 4.10pts
H10: Chris Ward (USA) 19.00pts ; Sean Moody (HAW) 11.50pts ; Parker Coffin (USA) 5.90pts ; Cristobal De Col (PER) 5.27pts
H11: Balaran Stack (USA) 10.60pts ; RUdy Palmboom (ZAF) 8.27pts ; Liam McNamara (HAW) 7.00pts ; Lan Crane (USA) 4.90pts
H12: Carlos Munoz (CRI) 18.60pts ; Kalani Chapman (HAW) 7.07pts ; Bino Lopes (BRA) 5.50pts ; Cory Arrambide (USA) 4.54pts
H13: Myles Padaca (HAW) 11.67pts ; Leandro Usuna (ARG) 8.64pts ; Ian Gentil (HAW) 6.16pts ; Danny Fuller (HAW) 4.54pts