24 June, 2018 24 June, 2018

A First Hand Account of Finals Day

The day begins on the 11th floor of the Garden Court Hotel. Living the business man’s dream. Free soaps, room service, and a TV placed right in front of your bed so you can watch CNN and check the stock market under some Egyptian linen as the AC fills the room with cool air. Wonderful. I open the curtain and drink in the magnificent view, life is good, we living baby, we living!

Pipeline was fiiiiring! If any locals tell you it gets better than this, don’t believe them, It doesn’t. This is living baby! Image: Thurtell

On the way to the contest site we stop off at the local petrol station, there’re a couple little one foot waves running through at Millers. Millers is the wave before Pipeline, and when there’s even the slightest hint of a cheeky wave at Millers, it means Pipeline is firing (by PE standards that is) and J-bay will be off the charts! We grab some over priced basic amenities at the Petrol station like water etc. These contest cater to the upper echelons of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Red Bulls flowing, a coffee machine pouring out coffee like water from a Cape Town tap before the drought, and trendy muesli biscuit things. But don’t you dare try to acquire lower level Maslow’s hierarchy desirables, like water, or white bread, cause it ain’t there.

Can’t say thank you enough to VW for sponsoring the SA Open of Surfing. Here we have Crystal Hullet enjoying the upper echelons of Maslow’s hierarchy. Image: Thurtell

We arrive at the contest site to witness Hawaiian Brisa Hennessy going berserk on a right. A third reef roll in from the back of Pipeline which she obliterates all the way to the shore. Brisa’s been a standout from the start of this event, and we’ve kept and eye on her heats ever since. Brisa goes on to win her heat, but not without a late fight back from French surfer, Justine Dupont who slams a long running left all the way home for an 8.50.

Justine Dupont with the fight back. Image: Thurtell

The Red Bull tent which has been garnishing our ears with some trancey dance music throughout the morning suddenly changes its tune and decides to play ‘In Bloom’ by Nirvana, it’s a welcome change of play and it’s queued up right in time for Holly Wawn’s grungy obliteration of a wave. Her gritty dirty style suits the gritty garage sounds of Nirvana. Match made. Her turns are power, more powerful than some of the men’s and her flow can’t be flawed. In the powerless waves provided by the Pipeline, good flow is highly valued commodity, and Holly exchanged plenty of it for high scores from the judges. Holly goes on to win her Quarterfinal heat, booking herself a place in the semifinals courtesy of a 9.50 on her first wave, and a back up of a 7.00.

Never heard of Holly Wawn? Best you get to know that name. You’ll be hearing a lot more of it in women’s surfing. Image: Thurtell.

The day continues, the dance music comes back into play as the waves at Pipeline steadily roll on through. It’s as good as Pipe gets. Probably the day of the year! Have we mentioned that yet!? Pipe never gets good, but for some reason during this contest, it’s come alive.

Dominic Barona didn’t believe Pipeline got this good. Image: Thurtell

 Semifinal one features Silvana Lima vs Domonic Barona. Silvana’s been on a tear all event long. The only way she could possibly get knocked out of the draw would be by a mistake on her own part. And almost as the thought passes through my mind, I see Domonic paddling Silvana deep. Way off the boil. A couple of crankers come through, both girls hold their ground, a couple more bombs, still no ride. Just under ten minutes to go and no activation (as Giggs loves to say) of a ride. The option of a heat restart comes into the conversation, but the head judge stands his ground, no heat restart today girls, and rightfully so. Domonic makes a move back onto the bowl, and gathers two quick rides, for a 5.83 and a 6.50. Her neat backhand snaps fit perfectly into the bowl. Silvana, on the other hand, looks rattled, too rattled to surf, and with 6 minutes left she’s in combo land. Domonic’s game plan played out perfectly and she had Silvana Lima rattled before she stood up on a wave. Silvana makes one last ditch effort, but it’s not enough, to the shock of everyone around, the favourite get’s knocked a heat before the final.

Silvana Lima, rattled before she even stood up. Here’s an image from earlier in the day. Image: Thurtell

Semifinal number 2 featured the Hawaiian Brisa Hennessy against Holly Wawn from Australia. Holly the taller stronger girl started excellently, dealing with the funky waves Pipeline delivered like she was making a peanut butter jam sandwich in her kitchen, first ride, 3.67 which she backed with an 8.17. Brisa, unperturbed, began to chip away, she slowly figured out how to attack the end section dumpy closeout, and as the heat winded down she lucked into a bomb, laying down three massive jams. The judges deemed her efforts enough handing her a 6.50, and enough to make the heat.

Brisa Hennessy from Hawaii surfed Pipeline like it was a wave ’round the corner from her house.

As the tide rose, the waves moved more onto the Pipeline bowl which lay just infant of the Pipe. And this suited Brisa perfectly. She started the final off with a 6.67, then posting a 7.17, and then her highest wave score an 8.17. Her surfing, precise. Her flow superior. Before the Ecuadorean, Dominic Barona could muster anything worthwhile, Brisa already had a stranglehold on the heat. The heat ended without much of a fightback from the Ecuadorean. As Red Bull tent played its trancey dance music, Brisa was lifted on shoulders, chaired up the beach to receive 3000 valuable QS points. Well done Brisa!

Hope you enjoyed the Brisa Hennessy show. Image: Thurtell



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