PIPELINE, Oahu/Hawaii (Thursday, January 29, 2015): BRUCE IRONS has been behind many monumental tube rides on historic days at the Banzai Pipeline over the past 15 years. He won three events here between 2001 and 2002, including the esteemed Pipe Masters. A win has eluded him ever since.
Today, following a magical ride in the opening day of the Volcom Pipe Pro, he declared he's back to win.
In excellent 10- to 15-foot barrels, Irons was brilliant, and all it took was one ride. In a special 40-minute Wildcard heat, Irons was one of eight top Pipe chargers battling for a direct berth into Round 3. Best single ride would determine the winner. Among those in the hunt were MAKUAKAI ROTHMAN (HAW), DEREK HO (HAW); and ALEX GRAY (USA).
Irons, 35, split a solid peak and elected to go right into the Backdoor section of the wave. Driving fast and hard he positioned himself flawlessly for a deep, gaping tube ride, emerging to cheers and a near-perfect 9-point ride that would stand as the highest scoring ride of the day.
"I want to win this contest," Irons declared. "I want to win again out here. I want to win the Pipe Masters. I want to get in the Pipe Masters. I want to win, period, and out here is the place I want to do it. That's why I'm here."
For years, the Volcom Pipe Pro has offered an opportunity to local surfers to get a start in the Pipe Masters - the final stop on the WSL Championship Tour that is regarded surfing's ultimate crowning moment. Bruce knows what it takes to get there and after decades invested here, he knows what to do when he does.
"Pipeline has been my favorite wave since I was a young kid growing up. Something about this wave is amazing. It's a mesmerizing wave. I love it.
"I liked the one-wave format (of the one-off wildcard heat). You're out there with a bunch of friends and you just want to get the best wave. All or nothing. Balls to the wall. I like it."
For the remainder of the event, surfers will win or lose based on their top two rides. Expect double brilliance from Bruce.
Round 1 and the first 4 of 16 heats that comprise Round 2 were held today before an onshore wind shift brought a halt to competition. Standouts included locals REEF McINTOSH and JAMIE O'BRIEN, along with Brazil's HIZUNOME BETTERO.
Top seeds coming up in later rounds include KELLY SLATER (USA), JOHN JOHN FLORENCE (HAW); WIGGOLLY DANTAS (BRA), and MITCH COLEBORN (AUS).
The next call will be at 7am tomorrow. The Volcom Pipe Pro requires three full days of competition and will be held on the best days of waves between now and February 8.
Shown in order of 1st through 4th; 1st and 2nd advance
H1: K David (HAW) 11.07; E Lau (HAW) 10.97; A Kato (JPN) 5.9; E Stewart (HAW) 5.47 ~ H2: E Valiere (HAW) 11.5; C Arrambide (USA) 9.57; P Sullivan (HAW) 7.0; T Wakita (HAW) 2.6 ~ H3: H Bettero (BRA) 13.76; S Murakami (JPN) 11.03; A Toyon (FRA) 5.96; M McNamara (HAW) 5.77 ~ H4: N Florence (HAW) 11.7; G Gillette (HAW) 6.37; K Chapman (HAW) 5.0; K Ohashi (JPN) 4.07
H1: E Stewart (HAW) 8.7; T Wakita (HAW) 7.77; S Pacarro (HAW) 5.0; K Bacalso (HAW) 2.93 ~ H2: M McNamara (HAW) 12.5; N Florence (HAW) 9.83; T Dosland (HAW) 3.4; D O'Connell (HAW) 2.43 ~ H3: J O'Brien (HAW) 13.27; M Bruneau (HAW) 10.73; K Rothman (HAW) 6.8; E Olson (HAW) 4.83 ~ H4: O Eleogram (HAW) 9.5; L McNamara (HAW) 6.93; E Baldwin (HAW) 4.6; C Foster (HAW) 4.23 ~ H5: I Gentil (HAW) 10.6; K Alexander (HAW) 7.9; I Devault (HAW) 6.77; L Hodel (HAW) 3.17 ~ H6: R McIntosh (HAW) 14.4; K Oliveira (HAW) 8.27; I Moniz (HAW) 3.3; J Sadoy (HAW) 1.23 ~ H7: K Smith (HAW) 9.23; L Shepardson (HAW) 7.93; D Kowalski (USA) 6.13; N Mizuno (HAW) 5.97 ~ H8: K Cazimero (HAW) 12.6; M Padaca (HAW) 7.37; K Yamakawa (HAW) 6.1; K Daly (HAW) 4.7
Volcom Wildcard Heat Winner: Bruce Irons (HAW) 9.0 top ride. Into Round 3.