SEAN DOHERTY: Pipe Day 1 – War Pigs
This morning I woke up with eyelids glued together on a couch too short by half. It felt like I’d been asleep two hours, which was ballpark about right. The place stunk of beer. Tony Moniz was hosing the veranda, hosing around a couple of corpses who remained where they’d fallen last night. Joel Parkinson’s retirement party had only wrapped an hour before, but Uncle Tony was getting ready for the new day. Some guy crawled out of the naupaka bushes where he’d been deposited by one of the Makaha boys last night after trying to sneak into the yard. “Taking out the trash, brah.”
Joel got sent last night. Classy gig in the backyard here. Joel’s 14-year-old daughter Evie stole the show, her speech a classic, torching the old man but reducing him to tears in the process. Rob and Kirk from Metallica played. Kirk lives in Hawaii. Heard a great story yesterday. Uncle Tony Moniz had parked his car in town while he surfed and came in to discover someone had waxed his windscreen. “Learn how to park!” Uncle Tony tracked down the offender… none other than Kirk Hammett. He had no idea who Kirk was, but Kirk soon discovered who Uncle Tony was. Anyway, the band rocked last night. Joel got up to sing Hells Bells, grabbed the mic and realised he didn’t know a single word of it. They then broke into Sabbath’s War Pigs and the pit fired. Steph Gilmore was pushing around teenage boys. Parko got dropped on his head. Taylor Steele looked at me and said, “Thank god Herbie Fletcher’s in here so we’re not the oldest guys in this thing.”
My morning began with a horrible waking dream of Jordy Smith walking through an airport carrying a selfie stick, talking to a camera about something. The clip was titled All In, and as the WSL’s all access, high insight content offering was abysmally bad. If this is All in, I’m all out. I switched the broadcast off and watched from the veranda. Jackson Dorian, Shane’s kid walked in and sat down. “You know,” he said in a middle-aged resolution, “I really need to surf more.” He’s 10, and he’d already surfed twice this morning before 8am.
The waves out front at Pipe looked pretty much as they have for the past week, lumpy with dank north winds. It’s been locked in this pattern all week and doesn’t show any signs of abating. In the process the Ehukai sandbar has turned into a small island, and while there’s plenty of swell coming it doesn’t look like we’ll get a classic Masters.
Kelly surfed this morning. It wasn’t classic Kelly either, he hasn’t been near The Pipeline in any meaningful way since his foot was turned into a bag of bones almost two years ago. He won’t need to be classic Kelly however to make some mischief in the draw here. Given the forecast it’s going to be a wave catching contest and while the old bones groan, that golden orb contains enough Pipeline schematics to win him heats with his eyes shut. He’s surely watching on as we approach Peak Parko, watching his old rival exit the stage with good grace and universal respect and thinking, no doubt, of his own impending exit next year and how it will all go down.
Toledo circled his extended entourage for a bit of divine help before paddling out but may have been better working on some kind of actual heat strategy, because he looked lost out there. Pipeline was an alien landscape, and he had no coherent strategy for dealing with it. He drifted down in front of the house here at off The Wall for a while, when he’d have been better off throwing some cheese to the breeze on the lefts. Instead he ate shit trying a closeout turn at Backdoor, although by this stage he might have been some form of self-flagellation. The only thing Phil can take from today is the he can’t surf any worse than he did this morning.
On the flipside, the other two world title guys looked assured. Medina did what Toledo should have done and launched into the teeth of the wind, while Julian waited for a Backdoor funnel and banked a score. They never broke third gear and will move into the back half of the contest both fancying their chances. Julian has a lot more to do but will take hope from the forecast. It’s going to be eights and twos for the rest of the event, and he’s just got to hope Gabby gets a heat with deuces.
The Festival of Parko continued with his heat this afternoon, by which stage the wind had notched around a few degrees toward trades and the whole place suddenly lit up. Joel’s saying for anyone on a hot streak of good fortune is that “they’ve been kissed on the dick by a fairy” and this afternoon the fairies were circling. He found two gems, the first of which he got clipped by, but the second one he drained for the best score of the day. He then got smacked over at Backdoor and later admitted to “throwing up a gallon of Mai Tai underwater.” He’s looking good to finish his career with a Triple Crown, if he can keep away from his hundred-strong entourage who have turned the pool bar at Turtle Bay into Spring Break.