Maui’s Dusty Payne earned the highest two-wave total — a 15.10 out of a possible 20 points — in the first round of the Billabong Pipe Masters yesterday.
In the process, Payne defeated Kiron Jabour and advanced to the second round, where he also beat Patrick Gudauskas. Wave faces yesterday were in the 8- to 10-foot range, and despite the frequency of swell, the barreling rides came seldom, Payne said.
"It’s challenging conditions," Payne said. "It’s not fun, Pipe or Backdoor."
Payne, who currently is in 36th place, is looking to requalify for the 2011 Association of Surfing Professionals World Tour, pending an equal ninth or better finish at the Pipe Masters. He narrowly squeaked out of the second round, thanks to a rare tube.
"I was watching the waves up at Gums and I saw two perfect drainers and spit," said Payne of the second round. "I was just sitting down at Backdooor getting ones and twos and I was like, ‘I’m over this, I’m boltin’ over there.’ I just put my head down and paddled as hard as I could up there and luckily that (8.17 out of a possible 10-point ride) came through, thanks to Andy (Irons)."
Payne’s hopes of World Tour requalification are still alive, but local surfers’ hopes of bringing home the Triple Crown were dashed yesterday. Joel Centeio and Granger Larsen lost in the first round yesterday, eliminating any chance for a Hawaii resident to win the Triple.
The Triple Crown title is now between Australian World Tour surfers Joel Parkinson and Adrian Buchan.
While the Triple Crown race is in full swing, the focus of the day was on the recently deceased Andy Irons. The sponsors of the third jewel named this event the Billabong Pipe Masters In Memory of Andy Irons as a tribute to the late three-time ASP world champ from Kauai.
"It’s not normal," said Payne of Andy Irons’ absence from the contest. "It will never be the same without him."
Andy Axel Irons, the only son of the late Andy Irons, was born on Kauai yesterday.
"He’s a nice, healthy baby boy," said Bruce Irons, Andy’s younger brother. "Andy Axel’s doing really good and I’m just happy that they’re healthy."
Bruce failed to advance out of the first round, but had a whirlwind journey to get to Pipe in time for his heat after being present for Andy Axel’s birth.
"Contests are fun, but life means a lot more," Irons said. "I was at the hospital at 8 o’clock, the baby came out, some guy gave us a private jet, picked us up at the airport, flew by the (Pipeline) lineup and parked (landed) at Mokuleia, and drove right here."
Contest officials still need two full days of competition to finish the Billabong Pipe Masters. Check with triplecrownofsurfing.com or 596-SURF to see if it’s on.