World’s Best Surfers Gear Up for Billabong Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons

December 7, 2016 • WSL

BANZAI PIPELINE, Oahu/Hawaii (Tuesday, December 6, 2016) – The world’s best surfers are on the famed North Shore of Oahu for the final stop on the 2016 Samsung Galaxy World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), the Billabong Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons. Holding a competition window of December 8 – 20, 2016, to be held on the best four days of surf, the legendary Banzai Pipeline will serve as the ultimate proving ground for the world elite as they battle to become the next Pipe Master. The Billabong Pipe Masters is also the third and final stage of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing WSL Specialty Series.

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John John Florence. Photo: © WSL/Kirstin

Newly crowned WSL Champion and hometown hero, John John Florence (HAW), will look to secure his first Billabong Pipe Masters victory when competition kicks off. Photo: © WSL/Kirstin

Newly crowned WSL Champion John John Florence (HAW) comes into this event with significant momentum after clinching the World Title in Portugal and his recent victory at the Hawaiian Pro, the first stop of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. Growing up with Pipeline in his backyard, local hero Florence hopes to take the last win of the CT season, despite having yet to earn a victory at this event.

Defending Vans Triple Crown of Surfing winner and current World No. 2, Gabriel Medina (BRA), will be one to watch at Pipeline. The Brazilian powerhouse will look to claim his second CT win of the year and secure a strong position for the 2017 season. Medina will face rookie Kanoa Igarashi (USA) and the winner of the Pipeline Invitational.

Jordy Smith (ZAF), current World No. 3, has proven to be a fierce opponent on the North Shore with his recent victory at the Vans World Cup of Surfing QS10,000. Smith will be up against Keanu Asing (HAW) and Bede Durbidge (AUS) in Round 1. Durbidge, who injured his pelvis last year, has made a tremendous comeback so far during the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing and will continue to charge at the Pipe Masters. Pipe will also see Asing battle to reclaim his position on the 2017 CT as this event will be his last opportunity to requalify.

The Billabong Pipe Masters is the final opportunity for CT surfers to requalify for next season’s elite tour. The 2017 WSL Top 34 will be comprised of:

  • The Top 22 finishers on the 2016 Championship Tour (CT) rankings
  • Top 10 from the Qualifying Series (QS) Rankings
  • Two WSL wildcards

The Pipeline Invitational will run on the first competition day of the Billabong Pipe Masters to determine which surfers will receive the two wildcard entries into the main event. The 32-man field will consist of the top surfers from around the world, including standouts from the Volcom Pipe Pro held earlier this year and highest internationally ranked QS surfers.

There will be a Round Table session broadcast live on the first day of the holding period, Thursday, December 8, which will include former Billabong Pipe Masters champions Adriano de Souza (BRA), Kelly Slater (USA), Joel Parkinson (AUS) and Jeremy Flores (FRA). Press will have the opportunity to interview athletes following the Morning Show at 8:30 a.m. Hawaii Standard Time (HST) at the WSL Pipeline Houses, located at 59-355 Ke Nui Road, Haleiwa, HI 96712. Any attending media will need to be approved by WSL and wearing a credentials wristband for access into the yard. Press can apply for accreditation by completing the online form HERE.

In addition to Thursday’s press opportunity, there will be an interview session with World Champions and Vans Triple Crown of Surfing winners, John John Florence (HAW) and Gabriel Medina (BRA), on Wednesday, December 7, which will include a video news feed and image distribution to registered press.

The Billabong Pipe Masters will be webcast LIVE on WorldSurfLeague.com as well as the WSL app.

The event is also being carried by the WSL’s LIVE broadcast partners Fox Sports Australia, CBS Sports in the United States, ESPN Brasil, Globosat, Edgesport, Sky NZ, Sport TV, Canal + Deportes, Channel Nine, MCS, Starhub, and Oceanic Time Warner Cable 250 & 1250 in Hawaii.

For more information, check out WorldSurfLeague.com

Billabong Pipe Masters Round 1 Match-Ups:
Heat 1:
Julian Wilson (AUS), Wiggolly Dantas (BRA), Jeremy Flores (FRA)
Heat 2: Kolohe Andino (USA), Miguel Pupo (BRA), Alex Ribeiro (BRA)
Heat 3: Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Nat Young (USA), Ryan Callinan (AUS)
Heat 4: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Keanu Asing (HAW), Bede Durbidge (AUS)
Heat 5: Gabriel Medina (BRA), Kanoa Igarashi (USA), TBD
Heat 6: John John Florence (HAW), Jadson Andre (BRA), TBD
Heat 7: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Conner Coffin (USA), Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 8: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Stuart Kennedy (AUS), Kai Otton (AUS)
Heat 9: Filipe Toledo (BRA), Josh Kerr (AUS), Alejo Muniz (BRA)
Heat 10: Kelly Slater (USA), Caio Ibelli (BRA), Jack Freestone (AUS)
Heat 11: Sebastian Zietz (HAW), Italo Ferreira (BRA), Davey Cathels (AUS)
Heat 12: Adrian Buchan (AUS), Michel Bourez (PYF), Matt Banting (AUS)

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