FIG:Pipe defines the year's best


December 21, 2006|By RICK FIGNETTI

The final showdown of the year went down at legendary Pipeline during the Rip Curl Pipe Masters last week. Mother nature sent some 8- to 12-foot surf to the barrel that breaks over a shallow reef and produces some of the hollowest waves on the planet.

The final was a déjà vu duel between the two best surfers of the past five years — Andy Irons and Kelly Slater. Veteran East Coaster Cory Lopez made the heat too, as well as Mr. Casual, Rob Machado.

But it was Irons who struck first, with a massive backside deep-tube ride on a left, where he got spit out and hit a big floater, to receive a 9.87 score. Slater, the world champ and a past Pipe winner, answered back with some insane rides and barrels too, earning 9.0 and 8.73 scores — good enough to win just about any WCT final.


Lopez had a few quick in-and-outs, and Machado also got a super-deep tube, but wasn't able to make it out. He broke his board on the next wave, ending any chance of a win.

At the end of the final, Irons found an Off the Wall right, totally back-doored it, was gone from sight for more than a few seconds and then somehow popped out, claiming a perfect 10 and the win.

By making the final, Irons also captured the overall Triple Crown series win and moved to second in the WCT ratings by winning four heats in a row. Equal fifths were Pipe local Jamie O'Brien and East Coaster Damien Hobgood, who was getting shacked all event. And equal sevenths were San Clemente's Chris Ward, who requalified for next year's WCT, and Aussie veteran Luke Stedman.

Final ASP championship placings: 1. "Freak of Nature" eight-time world champ Kelly Slater; 2. "Barrel Master" Andy Irons; 3. Australian "Speedster" Mick Fanning; 4. "Rad Man" Taj Burrow; 5. probable rookie of the year, Santa Barbara's Bobby Martinez; 6. Aussie Joel "Parko" Parkinson (the winner at Sunset); 7. "Damo" Eastern sensation Damien Hobgood; 8. Aussie "Terror" Tom Whitaker; 9. Carlsbad's "Style Master" Taylor Knox, and 10. the "Dingo" Dean Morrison from the land down under.

Triple Crown standings are: 1st: Irons; 2nd: Parko; 3rd Freddy Boy Patacchia; 4th: Taj and 5th: South African Jordy Smith — not bad for his first year in Hawaii.

Meanwhile, here at home, the second storm of the winter hit last weekend gave our local mountains four inches of snow fall. The storm also dropped air temperatures down to the teens — just perfect for blowing the artificial stuff.

Big Bear Mountain, Snow Summit and Snow Valley in the San Bernardino Mountains, and Mountain High in the San Gabriel's, are open and ready to go big during Christmas break, opening more terrain daily with more runs, jibs, jumps and half-pipes.

Correction: Sarah Taylor is an MVP in girls' short board in the Sunset League. Merry Christmas to ya from the Figster, and just maybe I'll see ya in the lineup with your new board and wetsuit in those offshore steamy barrels.

  • RICK FIGNETTI is a nine-time West Coast champion and has been the KROQ-FM surfologist for the last 18 years. He owns a surf shop on Main Street. You can reach him at (714) 536-1058.

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