Kauai’s Keala Kennelly leveraged her extensive big wave experience Friday to win the Surf N Sea Pipeline Women’s Pro.
Kennelly, 36, dominated in waves that ranged from clean 4- to 6-foot barrels in the morning, to hefty double-overhead, wind-blown beach break conditions in the final.
Runner-up to Kennelly was North Shore’s rising star Honolua Blomfield of Haleiwa; third place went to former touring professional Melanie Bartels of Waianae; fourth was Moana Jones of Haleiwa — the youngest of the finalists at 15 years old.
Kennelly scored some of the biggest rides of the day at Off-The-Wall, opting for high-risk vertical turns and critical close-out maneuvers that shot her to an early lead she never relinquished.
"I’ve been surfing out here since I was about 12, so I’ve put in a lot of time," said Kennelly. "Being a big wave surfer definitely helped today. I’ve taken my fair share of beatings, so for sure it helps to not be intimidated when the conditions are heavy like they were today.
In the Pipe Pro Junior Men’s event, which still has one more day of competition remaining, defending champion Seth Moniz of Honolulu continued to set the pace, along with Kalani David of Haleiwa and Northern California’s Nic Hdez.
A high surf advisory is in effect for the North Shore Saturday. Organizers will assess the conditions at first light and a Pipe Pro Junior Men’s champion may be crowned by end of day.