Florence Wins Volcom Pipe Pro Title

Kaua‘i’s Bruce Irons nestles into a tube at the 2012 Volcom Pipe Pro on Oahu. Photos courtesy Ocean Promotion

It’s as if the waves sometimes feel the energy or the significance of the moment. Announcers almost always remind us late in heats that “anything can still happen,” but there is usually a hint of resignation in their voices.

Yet the “it ain’t over till it’s over” mantra was proven true once again Feb. 1 at Oahu’s Volcom Pipe Pro as John John Florence displayed his brilliance in the closing seconds for a memorable come-from-behind title.

Having already congratulated fellow local favorite Jamie O’Brien, Florence eyed one final set and ended up taking off right at the horn. He found a backdoor right barrel that netted him a 9.93 to add to his perfect 10 from just minutes before, topping JOB, who had things all but locked up with a 19.40 total. It was Florence’s second straight Volcom Pipe Pro title.

The clock also was unkind to Kaua’i’s Bruce Irons, who earlier appeared to have a spot in the final heat well in hand. Irons was the early aggressor in the second semifinal heat, and it looked as if that tactic would pay off. He had the first scoring ride of the session and came away with a 9.17 to set the pace. However, Florence again showed patience, starting slow but taking the lead with under four minutes remaining and eventually advanced to first with a 13.56. Nate Yeomans then swooped in with less than a minute left to oust Irons from the second-place slot, using a modest 4.83 ride to advance with a 12.83 total.

John John Florence raises his arms after exiting a Backdoor barrel during the final heat

Irons never found the solid second wave to add to his early firepower and finished in third with a 12.40. He was the last man standing of an impressive Kaua’i contingent that had a strong showing at this third annual 5-Star World Qualifying Series event.

Tyler Newton reached the fourth round as just 32 men remained in the competition, which saw two initial rounds of trials before 112 surfers began in the main draw. Newton was joined in the Round of 32 by Sebastien Zietz and Evan Valiere, who all put up solid, doublefigure scores but were outpointed in their respective heats.

Gavin Gillette reached the Round of 64, taking third in a low-scoring heat won by O’Brien. Koa Smith also made it to that third round of the main draw, as did Roy Powers, who took third in a heat won by Valiere.

Chris Foster found his way into the second round, along with Jesse Merle-Jones, Dylan Goodale and Danny Fuller.

Kaua’i’s Stephen Koehne made it through the two trial rounds, but paid the price on his final ride as he took a huge gash to his knee. The on-site doctor said that it was “a serious injury that required 20 stitches or more to three layers: muscle, fascia and skin,” according to the Association of Surfing Professionals.

The first event of the 2012 ASP World Tour season is the Quiksilver Pro presented by Land Rover, scheduled for Feb. 25 through March 7 at the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia.