With 10 minutes left in the final, things looked bleak for Jeff Hubbard. He was sitting in fourth place in bumpy 6- to 8-foot wave heights and needed a combination of scores to win.
But Hubbard rode two high-scoring waves to score a dramatic comeback victory in the International Bodyboard Association Pipeline Pro yesterday.
Hubbard, 35, won $6,000 at the first event of the 2011 IBA Men’s Grand Slam.
"I needed two waves to get ahead and in these conditions it was almost impossible," said Hubbard, who also publishes Bodyboarding Magazine. "The level of competition was fierce and guys were fighting for waves, so I knew I had to step it up and realized I needed to start taking the waves I needed to win."
This was Hubbard’s third professional victory at the Banzai Pipeline. He won this event in 2002 and in 2006. His ’06 Pipe Pro win solidified Hubbard’s first IBA world title.
"I won (at Pipe) twice before and this was probably the best finals victory I ever had, for sure," said Hubbard, who hails from Kauai and is a two-time IBA world champ (2006 and 2009). "The other time I won the world title, so the Pipeline victory was almost overshadowed by the world title and this year is the beginning of the tour and to come from behind was epic."
Australian Tom Rigsby, 18, led for most of the 25-minute final.
Hubbard started his long climb to first place with a 9.75 ride, where he landed a huge air roll spin (ARS) and followed it up with two rollos. Then he caught a backdoor barrel that earned him a 9.5 out of a possible 10 points. Hubbard’s two-wave total of 19.25 out of a possible 20 pushed him into first and relegated Rigsby to a runner-up finish.
"I had a feeling that Hubb might come back when he got that first good (wave) so I was a bit worried," said Rigsby, who finished the Pipe Pro with a 14.65 two-wave total.
Rigsby won $1,720. South Africa’s Jared Houston finished third and Australia’s Dall Singer was fourth.