BANZAI PIPELINE, Oahu - The Billabong Pipeline Masters, final event on the 2008 ASP World Tour, was blessed with epic five to seven foot (1.5 to 2.5 meters) waves for its kick off , with two of four current Dream Tour Europeans getting their start in the event and ending up with different fates.
Aritz Aranburu (Zarautz, EUK), impressed in Heat 6 of Round 1 against Pipeline renowned charger Kalani Chapman (HAW) winning the 40-minute encounter with a solid 15.00 point heat tally (out of a possible 20) to advance through to Round 2. Aranburu, who confessed earlier in the week how much he loved solid surf and hollow barrels, looked relaxed an comfortable during the battle and patiently waited for a Backdoor bomb to secure his advantage and win the battle.
Aranburu, who has applied for an injury wildcard to remain amongst the ASP Top 45 in 2009, has nothing to lose in the Billabong Pipeline Masters and showed promissing determination and confidence before surfing in Round 2, possibly today, with the dual-heat format.
Aranburu was one of two current ASP World Tour surfers in Round 1 to resist an impressive domination by the local big names, Dream Tour veteran and retiring surfer Danniel Wills (AUS) being the other one.
With the dual-heat format allowing organisers to run the Billabong Pipeline Masters up to Heat 8 of Round 2 today, Miky Picon (Capbreton, FRA) paddled out halfway through the day opening the second round in a clash against other local charger Kamalei Alexander (Oahu, HAW).
Picon, who led the heat for most of the fourty-minute decider, was eliminated due to a last-minute wave of Alexander that gave him a 0.23 point lead, enough to get away with the win. Picon wraps up the 2008 season, his best ever, requalifying through the ASP World Tour after several solid results including a 3rd place finish in Brazil.
Jeremy Flores (Capbreton/New Caledonia, FRA), 20, currently ranked No. 10 in the world, will get his start in the event in Round 3 only, while last European surfer Tiago Pires should be surfing in Heat 14 of Round 2 when competition resumes tomorrow. There is still a serious doubt on Pires paddling out as the Portuguese man injured his back a couple of days ago and has yet to confirm his presence.
Round 2 of the Billabong Pipeline Masters will recommence in four-to-five foot (2 metre) surf at Pipeline this morning.
The first eight heats of the round were completed yesterday and event organizers will aim to run the second half of Round 2 and all of Round 3 today.
ASP World No. 16 Kieren Perrow (AUS) will go head–to-head with 16-year-old John John Florence in the first heat of the day.
The ASP Dual Heat format, which puts the surfers out in 40-minute, overlapping heats, will be utilized again today with the Top 16 seeds on the ASP World Tour making their 2008 Pipeline Masters debuts in Round 3.
Upcoming Billabong Pipeline Masters Round 2 Heats:
Heat 9: Kieren Perrow (AUS) vs. John John Florence (HAW)
Heat 10: Pancho Sullivan (HAW) vs. Aritz Aranburu (EUK)
Heat 11: Tim Reyes (USA) vs. Mark Healey (HAW)
Heat 12: Ben Dunn (AUS) vs. Marcus Hickman (HAW)
Heat 13: Bruce Irons (HAW) vs. Torrey Meister (HAW)
Heat 14: Tiago Pires (PRT) vs. Makuakai Rothman (HAW)
Heat 15: Dane Reynolds (USA) vs. Shane Dorian (HAW)
Heat 16: Dean Morrison (AUS) vs. Jesse Merle-Jones (HAW)