PIPELINE, Hawaii (Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2006) – After a wait until 1.30pm local time to see if a predicted new swell would arrive, organisers of the Rip Curl Pro Pipeline Masters have decided to call the event off for today after the ocean failed to produce quality waves.
At first light this morning the swell appeared to be a touch larger than yesterday with one metre plus (three to four feet) waves on offer.
But despite the very slight increase, the Banzai Pipeline was nowhere near its incredible best and wasn't offering enough potential for the remaining mix of Foster's ASP World Tour surfers and local wildcards to show their wares.
Delaying the continuation of the event increases the angst of those surfers who are relying on a near perfect event result to keep their hopes of requalifying for surfing's elite tour alive.
On the cusp of being relegated to ASP's second tier tour, the World Qualifying Series (WQS), are Jake Paterson (AUS), Nathan Hedge (AUS), Chris Ward (AUS), Luke Stedman (AUS), Peterson Rosa (USA), Pancho Sullivan (USA) and Mick Lowe (USA), and all will have a point to prove when competition resumes.
Being a Pipe Master himself, Paterson (who won here in 1998) knows exactly what lies before him and realizes that he must lift physically and mentally in order to make the business end of the event.
Adding to the pressure is the four-man heat format – so while there is the initial challenge of surfing over one of the world's deadliest reefs, it's also a case of stealing waves from three others who are equally as hungry to grab surfing's most prestigious crown.
"We're stringing along by a thread and hopefully the string doesn't break for me," said Paterson regarding his tour standings. "In the event I'm trying to play really smart heats. It's really tough out there with four guys as every single wave there is someone trying to take it from you. It's a totally different strategy to the usual man-on-man format where if you had priority, you could sit out there and be more selective. It would be really cool to finish out there year knowing that you can take any wave you want out there but I'm dealing with it."
Paterson also indicated that he was mentally prepared for whatever the outcome.
"I'm ready to move on if that's the way it happens [if he were to lose and be ousted from the Foster's ASP World Tour]. I'm also ready for another year on tour if that's the way it happens too. I'm stoked. I just want to have a good run at this."
Surfing the powerful Hawaiian swells generally suits Paterson but if he had a preference of the best conditions he indicated that he would prefer for the righthanders of Backdoor Pipe to be breaking as being a regular footer this would best suit his approach.
"Confidence wise I go in and out from day to day," said Paterson. "If the conditions suit me, I feel way more confident. Like if the rights are better... I feel way more confident going right. I just have to take it as it's coming. I'm just frothin'."
Organisers will reconvene tomorrow morning at first light and will assess conditions.
It is hoped that the predicted swell will have arrived and if conditions are right competition will resume.
Round Three Heat Draw
Heat 1: Damien Hobgood (USA); Peterson Rosa (BRA); Rob Machado (USA); Tory Baron (HAW)
Heat 2: Taj Burrow (AUS); Mick Lowe (AUS); Ian Walsh (HAW); Kalani Chapman (HAW)
Heat 3: Bruce Irons (HAW); CJ Hobgood (USA); Dustin Barca (HAW); Hank Gaskell (HAW)
Heat 4: Kelly Slater (USA); Pancho Sullivan (HAW); Luke Stedman (AUS); Reef McIntosh (HAW)
Heat 5: Mick Fanning (AUS); Chris Ward (USA); Nathan Hedge (AUS); Jamie Sterling (HAW)
Heat 6: Tom Whitaker (AUS); Cory Lopez (USA); Bruno Santos (BRA); Makuakai Rothman (HAW)
Heat 7: Andy Irons (HAW); Jake Paterson (AUS); Roy Powers (HAW); Tamayo Perry (HAW)
Heat 8: Bobby Martinez (USA); Travis Logie (ZAF); Jamie O'Brien (HAW); Evan Valiere (HAW)