Photo: Aritz Aranburu (EUK) getting barreled at the infamous Banzai Pipeline and through to Round 2 of the Billabong Pipeline Masters. He will meet fellow ASP Top 45 member and local power surfer Pancho Sullivan next.
BANZAI PIPELINE, Oahu (Tuesday, December 9, 2008) – The Billabong Pipeline Masters, final event on the 2008 ASP World Tour, was blessed with epic five to seven foot (1.5 to 2.5 meters) waves for its kick off today, with two of four current Dream Tour Europeans getting their start in the event and ending up with different fates.
Aritz Aranburu (Zarautz, EUK), impressed in Heat 6 of Round 1 against Pipeline renowned charger Kalani Chapman (HAW) winning the 40-minute encounter with a solid 15.00 point heat tally (out of a possible 20) to advance through to Round 2. Aranburu, who confessed earlier in the week how much he loved solid surf and hollow barrels, looked relaxed an comfortable during the battle and patiently waited for a Backdoor bomb to secure his advantage and win the battle.
“It was good fun to surf my first heat ever in the Pipemasters,” Aranburu said. “I started off with a 9.33 but it is never enough here because if a bomb comes in the other guy can catch it and win the heat. So I was stressing a bit before I got my second ride but then I found that righthander and no other set came until the end of the heat.”
Aranburu, who has applied for an injury wildcard to remain amongst the ASP Top 45 in 2009, has nothing to lose in the Billabong Pipeline Masters and showed promissing determination and confidence before surfing in Round 2, possibly tomorrow, with the dual-heat format.
“I really like the new format because the heats are longer, 40 minutes instead of 30, and it definitely gives you a lot more options. I got my best wave while not under priority so the extra time we get can make a big difference.”
Aranburu was one of two current ASP World Tour surfers in Round 1 to resist an impressive domination by the local big names, Dream Tour veteran and retiring surfer Danniel Wills (AUS) being the other one.
With the dual-heat format allowing organisers to run the Billabong Pipeline Masters up to Heat 8 of Round 2 today, Miky Picon (Capbreton, FRA) paddled out halfway through the day opening the second round in a clash against other local charger Kamalei Alexander (Oahu, HAW).
Picon, who led the heat for most of the fourty-minute decider, was eliminated due to a last-minute wave of Alexander that gave him a 0.23 point lead, enough to get away with the win. Picon wraps up the 2008 season, his best ever, requalifying through the ASP World Tour after several solid results including a 3rd place finish in Brazil.
Jeremy Flores (Capbreton/New Caledonia, FRA), 20, currently ranked No. 10 in the world, will get his start in the event in Round 3 only, while last European surfer Tiago Pires should be surfing in Heat 14 of Round 2 when competition resumes tomorrow. There is still a serious doubt on Pires paddling out as the Portuguese man injured his back a couple of days ago and has yet to confirm his presence.