One of the world’s best freesurfers is expanding his game. When news of Jamie O’Brien’s participation in the Turbo Bodyboards Pipeline Pro first broke, it sounded like a one-time foray by O’brien into the world of competitive sponging….a simple demonstration of his nearly unmatched knowledge, ability, and style on the wave sitting outside of his back door.
After bowing out of the event with a 3rd in his very 1st heat, O’Brien made it known that he’s not quite done with the sport of legend Mike Stewart. “I’ll be back bigger and better next year,” said J.O.B. after his valiant effort fell short.
In fact, in a post by our friends at EXPN, O’Brien went on to prophecy great things for next years event- “We’re all riding waves and I was stoked that they respected that. Who knows? Next year I want to make the finals. That’s my goal.”
Why not? I dig O’Brien’s venture into competitive bodyboarding and look forward to seeing what he can do if he puts a little more time in, especially with the event being held at Pipeline.
Even if you no longer partake of the sponge with any frequency, chances are you cut your surfing teeth on a Morey and have a a soft spot in your heart for riding waves in the prone position. If O’Brien brings the same mentality to bodyboarding that he does to surfing….Spongers beware.
Although the 2008 Pipeline Masters ended up looking like a Backdoor Shootout with all of the rights that were taken, the official Backdoor Shootout is just a couple of days away from unleashing it’s magic on the world of surfing. The holding period for the 2009 Da Hui Backdoor Shootout opens this Monday and will run through Jan. 15. The opening ceremony for the seventh annual Shootout will be held Sunday morning at Ehukai Beach Park for anyone one interested in attending.
The Backdoor Shootout is doing a solid job at setting itself up as one of the premier independent surf competitions in the world. Any competition at Backdoor Pipeline is obviously going to generate all kinds of hype and excitement. Mixing in a world class line-up of surfers such as 2008 winner Jaime O’Brien, Makua Rothman, Mark Healey, Danny Fuller, Bruce Irons and many more only adds to that. On top of it all, Da Hui offers up a very healthy prize purse, as Jamie O’Brien took home $50,000 for his efforts last year. Bruce Irons, the ‘08 Shootout runner-up, pulled in $25,000 for his efforts. That 2nd place total stands just a few G’s short of the typical amount seen by winners of ASP World Tour events.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the event will be webcast, which is kind of a downer. There was a staggering amount of web traffic for the Pipe Masters and I’m sure many of those same fans would love to get another Pipeline fix. Hopefully this is something we can look forward to for future Backdoor Shootouts. For those who live on the islands and those visiting over the next 10 or so days, catching a glimpse of this classic event is something that will definitely be worth your time, so be sure to check it out.
The call for the final day of competition has been made at the 2008 Billabong Pipeline Masters. Kelly Slater is going for his 6th Pipeline Masters win, Andy Irons is right behind him with 4 and shooting for #5. Bede Durbidge and Jamie O’Brien are both shooting for their 2nd. The rest of the final 16 surfers would become a Pipeline Master for the very first time, enscribing their names into surfing’s history books forever.
A massive rainstorm pounded Oahu and left various parts of the North Shore under water. The storm has since passed, and in it’s wake left a building 6-8 ft WNW swell @14 seconds with wind out of the south/southeast. The weather in Oahu should be clear, leaving us with a beautiful day to complete the 2008 Billabong Pipeline Masters. Go to http://triplecrownofsurfing.com/ for all of the action.
Billabong Pipeline Masters Round 4 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Marcus Hickman (HAW) vs. Luke Stedman (AUS)
Heat 2: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Tim Reyes (USA)
Heat 3: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Kieren Perrow (AUS)
Heat 4: Aritz Aranburu (EUK) vs. Jamie O’Brien (HAW)
Heat 5: Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. Tom Whitaker (AUS)
Heat 6: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Kamalei Alexander (HAW)
Heat 7: Chris Ward (USA) vs. Bede Durbidge (AUS)
Heat 8: Evan Valiere (HAW) vs. Andy Irons (HAW)
Winners of the Pipeline Masters
2008- ? 2007 Bede Durbidge 2006 Andy Irons 2005 Andy Irons 2004 Jamie O’Brien 2003 Andy Irons Hawaii 2002 Andy Irons Hawaii 2001 Bruce Irons Hawaii 2000 Rob Machado California 1999 Kelly Slater Florida 1998 Jake Paterson Australia 1997 John Gomes Hawaii 1996 Kelly Slater Florida 1995 Kelly Slater Florida 1994 Kelly Slater Florida 1993 Derek Ho Hawaii 1992 Kelly Slater Florida 1991 Tom Carroll Australia 1990 Tom Carroll Australia 1989 Gary Elkerton Australia 1988 Robby Page Australia 1987 Tom Carroll Australia 1986 Derek Ho Hawaii 1985 Mark Occhilupo Australia 1984 Joey Buran USA 1983 Dane Kealoha Hawaii 1982 Michael Ho Hawaii 1981 Simon Anderson Australia 1980 Mark Richards Australia 1979 Larry Blair Australia 1978 Larry Blair Australia 1977 Rory Russel Hawaii 1976 Rory Russel Hawaii 1975 Shaun Tomson South Africa 1974 Jeff Crawford USA 1973 Gerry Lopez Hawaii 1972 Gerry Lopez Hawaii 1971 Jeff Hakman Hawaii
While the freesurfing vs. competitive surfing debate has been going on as long as I can remember, 2008 has seen the ongoing contrast of ideas and views on the issue reach a fevered pitch. Bruce Irons deciding to bail on the ASP World Tour, Kelly Slater continuing to establish his unimaginable legacy on that same tour, and Dane Reynolds having a debate with Dane Reynolds on his future with the Dream Tour are just some of the examples of why the freesurfing vs. competitive surfing debate has been especially fresh on our minds in ‘08.
In my eyes this debate has always been an easy one. There’s plenty of room in this world for both to thrive. A healthy freesurfing movement allows guy like Dave Rastovich, the Malloy brothers, Jamie O’Brien, and Donavon Frankenreiter to continually blow our minds, each in their own respective way. I really dig the fact that it is becoming more common for the big boys like Billabong and Volcom to sponsor guys and just let them do their thing. I have the sneaking suspicion that we’re going to see truly incredible things from Bruce Irons as the gates of the WCT pen open up and he’s able to roam about the globe and single-handedly progress the sport in ways that only he can.
While Bruce goes about his business, the ‘CT will continue on without him. As it does, the storylines and the rich history it produces year after year will go on right with it. This is what makes competitive surfing such a beautiful thing. In fact, the whole motive for this post came as a result of 22 yr. old Michel Bourez’ victory at the first leg of this year’s Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. The Tahitian not only claimed victory with his inspired performance at the Reef Hawaiian Pro, but he also secured a coveted spot on the 2009 Dream Tour with his win at Haleiwa.
When you follow surfing, it can be easy to forget the real life aspects that take place with the surfers who have battled to get to where they are at today. Competitive surfing is full of inspiring stories of hard work, dedication, perseverance, broken hearts, and the realization of dreams. In the euphoric days following the Reef Hawaiian Pro, Michel Bourez told his story in his own words. In doing so, he once again reminded myself, as well as thousands of others, what it is that makes the world tour and competitive surfing so special.
“I still have that picture in my mind of coming in from the water and seeing the crowd and seeing all my good friends running down to see me and that was such a good feeling and something I’ll never ever forget. To win an event in Hawaii under that pressure was just incredible. I keep repeating myself here, as I still can’t really believe it.” -Michel Bourez-
So as far as the competitive surfing vs. freesurfing debate goes, it’s pretty simple….there’s plenty of room in my world for both. Hopefully this is the case for you as well. Both aspects of surfing are full of stories, images, history and so much more, all of which you don’t want to miss.
The “Eddie”….the sound of those two words alone carry with them a mystique and level of respect that few other surfing competitions throughout the world come even close to matching. Otherwise known as the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau contest, the Eddie is still, as it has been since it’s inception, the premier big-wave riding event in surfing. And it is now officially open to run whenever Mother Nature decides to cooperate.
The call to run the Eddie hasn’t been made since 2004. That was the year Bruce Irons shocked the surfing world and claimed victory with an incredible winning wave at Waimea Bay. The standards for the Eddie are as high as any with one day of at least 20-foot surf needed for the call to be made. With all of the early swell activity seen on the North Shore already this year, hopes are high that the revered event will end it’s 4-year hiatus.
The names of those invited to participate are listed below. One that stands out is South Africa’s Grant “Twiggy” Baker. Twiggy added his 2008 Red Bull Big Wave Africa victory earlier this year to his stunning win at Mavericks in 2006. A win at Waimea Bay would be huge in securing his spot as one of, if not the premier big-wave surfer in the world right now.
Regardless, there is so much more to the Eddie than just a big-wave surf contest and I strongly recommend those who are unfamiliar with the story of Eddie Aikau to make an effort and seek out as much knowledge as possible regarding one of surfing’s greatest stories.
2008 Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau Invitees:
1. Andy Irons (Hawaii)
2. Brian Keaulana (Hawaii)
3. Brock Little (Hawaii)
4. Bruce Irons (Hawaii)
5. Carlos Burle (Brazil)
6. Clyde Aikau (Hawaii)
7. Darryl Virostko (California)
8. Grant “Twiggy” Baker (South Africa)
9. Greg Long (California)
10. Ian Walsh (Hawaii)
11. Ibon Amatriain (Spain)
12. Jamie O’Brien (Hawaii)
13. Jamie Sterling (Hawaii)
14. Kelly Slater (Florida)
15. Keone Downing (Hawaii)
16. Makua Rothman (Hawaii)
17. Mark Healey (Hawaii)
18. Michael Ho (Hawaii)
19. Noah Johnson (Hawaii)
20. Peter Mel (California)
21. Ramon Navarro (Chili)
22. Ross Clarke-Jones (Australia)
23. Rusty Keaulana (Hawaii)
24. Shane Dorian (Hawaii)
25. Sunny Garcia (Hawaii)
26. Takayuki Wakita (Japan)
27. Tom Carroll (Australia)
28. Titus Kinimaka (Hawaii
1985 – Denton Miyamura (Hawaii)
1986 – Clyde Aikau (Hawaii) – Eddie Aikau’s younger brother
1990 – Keone Downing (Hawaii)
1999 – Noah Johnson (Hawaii)
2000 – Ross Clarke-Jones (Australia)
2002 – Kelly Slater (Florida, USA)
2004 – Bruce Irons (Hawaii, USA)
“It’s hard to be really competitive with a good friend, whether it’s over a wave or a contest or a girl.” – Kelly Slater
“It doesn’t matter how much confidence you have; you can’t just run down and go for a surf and expect to win.” – Jordy Smith
The drive for excellence and progression that lies within surfers, especially those that are leading the way for our sport, is a unique one and such that trying to explain that drive is nearly impossible. We all see the wave differently, we all have our own views on the equipment best suited to ride that wave, and what it is that drives us as surfers to continually push ourselves differs from one surfer to the next.
Chris Malloy and Woodshed Films (The Moonshine Conspiracy) are set to release their latest production, One Track Mind, to stores on Oct. 7. The film features many of world’s top surfers in Kelly Slater, Andy Irons, Tom Curren, Jamie O’Brien, Mark Occhilupo, Dane Reynolds and many more in it’s quest to dive into the their thought process and views on surfing, where it’s at currently, where it’s headed, and who is at the forefront of the march for progression. Featuring footage from Mexico, Indonesia, Micronesia, Trestles, and other world-class waves, One Track Mind is set to be a film you’ll want to keep your eyes on.
“To have that single-mindedness about things other than surfing is a challenge” – Tom Curren
The second edition of Billabong’s Freewave Challenge is set to kick off on the continental U.S. on June 20th. As summer officially kicks off, so does the follow-up to the inaugural virtual surf contest put on by Billabong this past winter in Hawaii. You gotta think surfers who are looking forward to entering their clips are praying that Jamie O’Brien has no plans to make his way over from the islands to take part in this edition of the Freewave Challenge. O’Brien took both 1st and 2nd in the Best Performance Ride category, while Huntington Beach’s Timmy Reyes easily brought home the Best Tube Ride honors with a Backdoor shack that many called one of the North Shore’s best waves of the winter.
With the growing success of the Freewave Challenge concept as a showcase for the best surfing outside of typical surf contests, the event has evolved and added new categories. Video clips may be uploaded and entered in five different categories: Monster Maneuver, Small Fries (16 and Under surfers), Best Barrel, Heartbreaker (Female Performance) and the Longest Ride. A total of $40,000 in prize money will be awarded to the surfers and videographers with the most progressive and popular rides. Surfers and vidographers have until Sept. 22 to get their entries entered before the judging process begins.
This new style of format for a surf competition is exciting in that the door truly is opened for any surfer that wants to enter. Jamie O’ and Timmy Reyes were highly deserving of their wins in the Hawaii version of the event, but how rad would it be to see some unknown surfer step up and take a win in the mainland version of the Freewave Challenge? With the best of the best being on the North Shore for the winter, it made it unlikely for anyone to come out of the dark to pull it off. The pool of contestants is sure to be quite a bit larger and the door wide open for any surfer on the continent to make a name for himself in this version of the Billabong Freewave Challenge.
Summer is set to start. If you feel like you have what it takes and want to make some extra cash just for doing what you love, be sure to check out the rules and regs for the Challenge and get set to capture your best stuff.
For the first time in 2 years, reigning world champion and current world no.3 Mick Fanning will finish a WCT event with the dreaded T-33 next to his name. Fanning was upset by Brazilian wildcard surfer Bruno Santos 10.00 to 9.17 in round 2 of a Billabong Pro that is really starting to liven up. “Things could be better,” Fanning said. “Every wave was a battle for fours and fives out there. They weren’t opening up and then I was either too wide or too deep – I couldn’t find the happy medium, but it happens. The waves were good, I wasn’t good.”
Fanning won’t be the only big name making a sooner than expected exit from Teahupoo. Jamie O’Brien had the unexpected misfortune of meeting Kelly Slater in rd. 2 following Slater’s round 1 loss to ‘Chopes-specialist Manoa Drollet. Kelly came out firing in their heat and O’Brien quickly found himself in an a combination hole that would lead him to sharing the same fate as Fanning following an 18.70 to 13.90 loss.
Kelly has now moved into rd. 3 where he will face the man responsible for putting him up against O’Brien in the first place, Manoa Drollet. “It’s excellent to beat Kelly,” Drollet said. “I feel bad, he was a bit pissed, but it’s a contest. I was lucky to get the best two waves of the heat, Kelly got one in the end and he almost came back. In this competition, the guy who gets the good waves is going to win the heat, and that was me today.” Drollet kept Slater out of position for most of their rd. 1 heat, forcing Kelly to take off deeper than he wanted do which resulted in the 8x world-champ getting pitched a time or two. Their rd. 3 match-up will surely see both surfers coming out ready for battle.
This one’s for all of my degenerate gambling friends out there… you know who you are! Upon learning that bookmakers in the U.S. would be opening up their books and fielding bets on the 2008 WCT I decided to sign up for Surfing-Odds.com e-mail alerts which notify me of the listed odds in the days leading up to each event. My interest in the alerts wasn’t so much for the gambling aspect. In my very limited gambling experience, I’ve quickly realized I am a casino’s best friend and unofficially the worst gambler on the planet. What caught my attention though was seeing how and where they decided to place the odds as each particular event approached.
With the Billabong Pro Tahiti fast approaching, Surfing-Odds was right on cue with the odds for this event. After checking out the Teahupoo odds I thought I would pass on a couple of interesting bets for those who may be looking to lay some cash down on the upcoming event. They’ve even decided to get crazy on us and add a “to make the semi’s market.”
By pulling off a dramatic perfect 10 point ride in the closing seconds of the final heat at the Air Tahiti Nui – Von Zipper Trials, Jamie O’Brien earned a spot in the main event of next weeks Billabong Pro. Make no doubt about it, O’Brien is the trialist that no one on the WCT is looking forward to matching up against, especially if swell charts stay true and Teahupoo keeps pumping out monster barrels the way it has been as of late.
His dramatic victory over Brazilian Bruno Santos was the stuff legends are made of and even O’Brien had to admit it was a bit ‘Slater-esque.’ “I’ve never came from behind the eight ball like that in the last minute,” said O’Brien. “I figured it’s the kind of stuff Kelly does, so I thought I would give it a try.”
O’Brien, the 2006 Pipeline Masters Champion and in my eyes one of the top all-around surfers in the world, has been taking a break from being on tour full-time to focus more on just surfing progressively. While doing so, he has pulled off impressive victories in several big contests, the likes of which include this years Da Hui Backdoor Shootout as well as Billabong’s inaugural Freewave Challenge.
A typical trialist might be intimidated knowing he will be opening up action in the main event against Pancho Sullivan and reigning world-champion Mick Fanning. Jamie O’Brien is anything but your typical trialist and he has let it be known that he’s coming after those guys – “I’m not worried about it, barrel riding is what I do, I travel the world so I can go and surf barrels. I’m down for the main event, I’ll take them down.”
Looks like the WCT regulars have officially been put on notice- Jamie O’Brien is coming for you.
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