Julian Wilson and the wave the made him a master. Photo: Brent Bielmann
It’s all over now…
The 2014 Billabong Pipeline Masters was the end. It was the end of a little furry primate’s era of stabbing away at the back flesh of Brazil’s surf community. The end of Julian Wilson’s incomprehensibly bad year on the WCT. The end of the ASP — don’t fret, they’ll be back next year as the WSL. Today was the culmination of a grandiose tour that started on the first day of March, stormed through 11 different events and stamped 7 different national seals on the passports of the world’s best surfers (France and Portugal grant you one European Union stamp and Hawaii, sometimes reluctantly, is an S of A just like Lowers). And it was the most heated day in ASP history — 27 heats, that is. So let’s start talking about the end.
Just being honest. Leading up to today, only 12 surfers out of a field of 36 had been eliminated. So a handful (like an Andre The Giant or a Yao Ming handful, we’re talking palms the size of Texas) of the guys who surfed today were still very far from mastering Pipeline. But at SURFING Magazine, we are firm believers in paying homage where homage is due, so let us now sing the song of the best losers.
Freddy Patacchia: Fred didn’t surf overwhelmingly well in his narrow Round 3 loss to Owen Wright, but he’s one of the tour’s finest men and how could I not mention him here?
Nat Young: He too devoured dust in R3, but holy shit did you see the waves he was getting during freesurfs? Nat started the year strong like an ox but hasn’t escaped 13th place like a ferret ever since J-Bay. I’d bet our statement of ownership (sorry higher-ups!) on that changing next year.
Kelly Slater: How many times must I say that it hasn’t been his year until you grasp the fact that it hasn’t been his year? Kelly lost to Alejo Muniz in a heat that lacked any and all Kelly moments. Look for 2015 to be a critical year for the king. Either he stands up to this new generation of blossoms or the monarchy is over.
Alejo Muniz: Alejo didn’t only beat Kelly. He beat Mick, too. He beat a collective 14 World Titles in conditions where you’d be hesitant to bet on him to beat Raoni Monteiro. The guy has more grit than meets the eye and his performance makes it interesting to see what the Surf League does with the 2015 wildcard. It’s between him and CJ Hobgood now.
John John Florence: He has mastered Pipe, but he is not a Pipe Master. Someway, somehow, he hasn’t won this event yet. He lost in the slowest of heats against Josh Kerr today and wasn’t very happy afterwards. Still, a win here is manifest destiny for the man who says his first name twice — wait, do we do that again?
Kai Otton: Remember when Josh Kerr was the guy that everyone said charged while at the same time said that nobody said he charged? Underground charger! Sports! That’s like Kai Otton except actually. For the record, this man is afraid of nothing. He’s officially proven himself in waves of consequence and is invited to my big-wave specialty event at Third Reef T-Street once I get approval from the San Clemente town hall.
Three’s company, four’s a crowd…
Wanna talk about the semis? Sweet, me too. In the first one, G. Medina beat J. Kerr in a slower-than-yo-average heat. G. got an 8.10, J. got an 8.33, G. was able to back it up and that was the difference. And did I mention that he won the World Title? Well deserved. And after that, J. Wilson surfed his second consecutive heat and comboed A. Buchan. We had ourselves a final.
On one side, the world’s best surfer in 2014. On the other side, the internet’s best surfer of 2014 — you saw Swamp Duck — and a man who had already been in the ocean for an hour. Ready, fight! Julian decided against the quick and gratuitous break offered by the ASP and struck early with the best Backdoor wave ridden all day (a 9.93). Then Gabriel struck back with the actual best Backdoor wave ridden all day (a 10). Then Gabe got an 8, then silence. A whole lot of waiting took us to the closing exchange. Julian got another Backdoor wave, Gabe got one at Pipe. Both surfers claimed like they’d just won and it was time for the judges to make their last decision of the year. Julian won by .43 points and took the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing with him. And with that, it was all over. By 4 PM, of course.
They say that tomorrow…
Brazil will be hung over. Julian Wilson will be hung over. I might even be hungover too. —Brendan “Gas Station Wine And Fleetwood Mac” Buckley