Kelly Slater beat out John John Florence during a spectacular quarterfinal round at the 41st edition of the Billabong Pipeline Masters, but the 11-time World Surfing Champion couldn’t match Australia’s Kieren Perrow.
The match-up between Slater and Florence was viewed by some as a “passing the torch” event. Slater, who is acknowledged as the greatest surfer in the sport, isn’t sure if he’ll commit to a full season in 2012. John John Florence, on the other hand, is just 19-years-old and has a long and promising career ahead of him.
Before the event, Slater said:
“I see John John as the guy to beat in this contest. He’s got three 10’s already. He lives right here and surfs here every day. If I were to lose to him, there would be no shame in that.”
Florence almost beat Slater, too. With just 8 minutes left Slater trailed his protege by 16 points. Slater was able to hit two consecutive waves to score a 9.7 and a 7.83 to beat Florence with just 46 seconds remaining.
“I was just trying to hold John John off for one more year. This might have been my last chance to get a few waves against him. He’s going to dominate Pipe for the next 20 years.”
In the final, 34-year-old Perrow was surprised, but thrilled, to take his first ASP title. According to Reuters, Perrow had to reach the quarterfinals during the Billabong Pipeline Masters in order to re-qualify for next year’s tour. Perrow said:
“I’m speechless. This is too surreal and bizarre to be true…. There was so much pressure on me just to stay on the tour. This could have been the last event of my life. I bought my wife, my brother, my daughter and son here in case it was goodbye to professional surfing… Not only have I re-qualified, I’ve won Pipe. It can’t be true.”
Here’s a video of Kelly Slater, John John Florence, and Kieren Perrow surfing at Pipeline.
Slater said he would race the first event of the 2012 season, but retirement could soon be in his future. Slater said:
“If the next contest wasn’t with Quiksilver I don’t know if I’d be going. I seem to do well there and that sets up my whole year but I don’t know if I would have started the tour the last couple of years if it wasn’t a Quiksilver contest. After 20 years on tour, it can feel like a bit of a grind. That’s not a complaint, the tour is a great life, but it can wear you down a little after this long.”
While Slater contemplated his future with the ASP, John John Florence was stoked about winning the Vans Triple Crown. Florence is the youngest person to win the Triple Crown, which he won for his performance at Haleiwa, Sunset Beach and Pipeline.
“I’m so stoked to be here, I’ve been surfing these waves my entire life and watching everyone over the years. I’m so happy that I won this and to have my name with everyone else who has won over the years.”
Did you watch the Billabong Pipeline Masters?