Hawaii surfer John John Florence won the Triple Crown of Surfing with a runner-up finish at the Billabong Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons in what was described as “epic’ conditions at the Banzai Pipeline Saturday.
Kelly Slater edged out Florence to win the Pipe Masters title, but lost the overall Association of Surfing Professionals World Title to Australian Mick Fanning,32, who won his third world championship.
The competition at the Banzai Pipeline was held in “solid” 10- to 15-foot surf, organizers said. Fanning advanced out of the quarterfinals to top Slater, 41, for the World Championship Tour title.
“It wasn’t easy,” Fanning said of his morning Round 5 bout with American C.J. Hobgood. “If you want to win a world title, you have to put it all on the line. I basically got flogged for 28 minutes of that heat before that gem came through. I heard from all the boys whistling on the beach and I knew it was going to be a good one when it came in. I got a roll in off of second reef and it set up for a really good section on first reef. Came through at the right time and that was definitely a magic moment for me.”
Drawing compatriot Nicol in the Quarterfinals, Fanning dropped into on a second reef set, setting up for a tremendously deep backhand barrel before being spat out into the channel.
“The world title is something that takes a whole year, but sometimes it can feel like it boils down to the final day and the final heats,” Fanning said. “I’m sure I gave my wife Karissa and my mum enough stress today to last a lifetime. I was never worried myself now that I think of it. I knew what I needed to do and if the opportunity came, I knew I could do it. That opportunity came in both heats today. It’s an incredible feeling. I’ve been having fun all year and to clinch on a day like this at Pipeline makes it that much more special.”
“Last year, someone asked me what excited me in the end years of my career and I said I would like to surf a Final at Pipe against John John (Florence) so that’s pretty special today,” Slater said in an online story from ASP. “To win is even better. I want to surf against the best surfers at the best waves – that’s why I’m on tour. I was obviously emotional today, especially after Mick (Fanning) clinched the title in the Quarters”
“Today was one of the most special days in my life,” Slater continued. “It’s a day I have dreamed about since I was a little kid – big, perfect, West-angled Pipeline and a showdown at the Pipe Masters. If I had stepped away from the sport five years ago, I wouldn’t have had today. I want more days like this so I’m definitely back next year.”
“This is my second Triple Crown but it feels pretty special,” Florence said. “The first year, I wasn’t really thinking about it. I was young and just having fun. This year, I came into the Triple Crown wanting to win it, but I honestly didn’t think I had a chance until we got to the final day at Pipe. This result has me motivated for next year.”