Calling a pro surf contest "on" or "off" is sometimes less about science and more about instinct.
The Volcom Pipe Pro benefited from a gutsy call yesterday. On-shore breezes blew through the lineup just before noon, deteriorating the conditions and shutting down barrels. At that point, contest officials decided to temporarily stop competition.
It was a questionable call, considering that officials called this event "off" for Monday while a new northwest swell pulsed with 12- to 16-foot wave faces and big barrels at the Banzai Pipeline. The waves were the same size yesterday, but the variable winds played a factor.
According to Kauai’s Reef McIntosh, 34, halting the competition was a "good call." And in 30 minutes, conditions changed and the competition resumed.
"It was on-shore (winds), and somehow, some magical god — thank you, God — it went offshore," said McIntosh, who advanced out of the second round yesterday. "It just got glassy, offshore and firing. I’m so glad it went on hold for a half hour because it was windy. … Then it just glassed off, and it just got better and better."
After surfing resumed, the lanky, regular foot got two sick barreling lefts at Pipeline, earning a two-wave total of 17.27 out of a possible 20 points. His highest scoring ride was a barrel at Pipe that judges deemed a 9.77 out of a possible 10 points.
McIntosh advanced in second place, while Brazil’s Dennis Tihara won the Round 2 heat with a two-wave total of 17.40. It was the highest scoring heat so far at the Volcom Pipeline Pro. Incidentally, McIntosh had no idea who Tihara was during the heat, but recognized the Brazilian from a previous free-surf session after.
"Once I saw that one guy (Dennis Tihara) get a wave I was like, ‘Oh, that guy,’ because I seen him catch some waves the other day and I didn’t know who he was," McIntosh said. "I knew he could get barreled, and he got barreled."
Despite being a dark horse, Tihara navigated the double-overhead tubes skillfully, capturing the highest two-wave total of the event.
According to McIntosh, the Volcom Pipe Pro is a great stage for guys like Tihara to showcase their surfing at the world’s most famous wave. This event is webcast live on volcompipepro.com, and telecast live on Oceanic Time Warner Cable channel 250 and 1250.
Association of Surfing Professionals competitors from Hawaii, like McIntosh, are vying for a good result at the Volcom Pipe Pro in order to gain a wild-card invite to the Billabong Pipe Masters.
The Pipe Pro functions as trials to the Pipe Masters, which is the last event of the ASP World Tour season and Vans Triple Crown of Surfing in December.
Competition in the third round could resume as early as today, waves and wind permitting.