Today, all eyes on the surfing world turn to Oahu’s Banzai Pipeline, where the Volcom Pipe Pro ushers in a new era starting on the North Shore. This season, what was formerly known as the ASP is now the World Surf League (WSL), and the defending world champ is someone not named Slater or Fanning.
The Volcom Pipe Pro is a WSL QS 3000 contest ($100,000 prize purse) and features a loaded field of 112 international entrants, many calling Hawaii home. Leading the contestants is Kelly Slater (USA), with a firm chokehold on Father Time for another year as he pursues his 12th world title. Slater scored a 10-point ride at last year’s event, going on to win in dramatic Pipe fashion.
The holding period begins today and runs through February 8. Surfline.com is predicting solid conditions for the event, with double overhead WNW swell through the weekend, and likely another storm due rolling in by Saturday, projecting high overhead NW waves.
Slater has his work cut out for him once again this year. Hawaiians John John Florence, Dusty Payne and Jamie O’Brien are legendary at Pipe and are immediate contenders. JJF is a three-time winner at this event and begins 2015 ranked third in the world, ahead of Slater and just behind 2014 world champ Gabriel Medina and 3x world title holder Mick Fanning. John John also finished 2014 ranked third, winning the Quiksilver Pro France and closing out with a 5th place finish at the Billabong Pipe Masters in December.
Other notables are big wave specialist Ian Walsh (HAW) and Kolohe Andino (USA), who begins the 2015 WSL season ranked 11th.
Supporting sustainability, Volcom will again be ensuring the contest is a ‘Deep Blue Surfing Event’, meeting and looking again to exceed the guidelines set forth by Sustainable Surf for mediating issues such as energy, waste, climate change, community support, and transportation.
Waiting period for the Volcom Pipe Pro is January 29-February 8. Tune into the live webcast at VolcomPipePro.com.