Aerial maneuvers aren't common at Pipeline, but this one worked for Pat G.
Triple Crown season in Hawaii is rapidly coming to a close. The first two contests at Haleiwa and Sunset are behind us, with only the final stop at Pipeline, the crown jewel of the Seven Mile Miracle (nickname for the stretch of beach from Haleiwa to Sunset on the North Shore of Oahu), to be contested.
Today was the first day of the contest window of the Billabong Pipe Masters
and with wonky six-foot waves on offer, contest directors opted to get rounds 1 and 2 out of the way. Two Orange County surfers were among the 48 competitors slated to compete: Pat Gudauskas, 25, of San Clemente, and Brett "Simpo" Simpson, 25, from Huntington Beach.
One of the two managed to survive to surf another day.
Coming into the Pipeline event, the tenth and final event on the 2010 ASP World Tour, both surfers had already secured a spot on the 2011 Tour. Based on their rankings, both surfers were seeded into Round 2.
Surfing in Heat 10, Gudauskas drew Australian Tom Whitaker, who was battling to secure a spot on next years' Tour. With Pipeline off its game a bit, offering big walls of water, but few barrels, both heats were mostly dictated by open-face maneuvers. Gudauskas got his top score on wave where he landed a big two-hand-grab air and backed that score up with a short barrel ride, for combined score of 12.16. Whitaker couldn't find the waves to come close, ending his hopes of a return to the World Tour.
"It sucks that he needed that heat, but this is my first Pipe Masters," said Gudauskas, following his heat. "I mean, it's not really a Pipe Masters now [based on the conditions], it's more of a right-hander masters, but I'm still stoked. I just want to keep making heats.
Competing in the following heat, Simpson actually found himself in the lineup at the same time as Gudauskas since the Pipeline event runs overlapping heats. Unfortunately, Simpson was afflicted with the problem Whitaker had, a dearth of quality waves. It also didn't help that Simpson snapped his board on one of his first waves, following a pretty typical-looking top turn. With two scoring waves in the one-range, he fell short to Australian Matt Wilkinson.
Simpson let his feelings be known via his Twitter account (@BrettSimpo
) following the loss: "Pocket 1's to end the year! Stoked!!" and "Glad the year is over! Had alot of fun! Lots of learning and figuring things out! Shout out @hobgoods for taking me thru the ropes!! :)"
The contest is scheduled to resume tomorrow (Thursday) morning, following a decision by the contest director. If and when Round 3 runs, Gudauskas will compete in Heat 10 versus one of the sport's most dynamic and unpredictable surfers, Dane Reynolds.