Can Jordy Smith win his first ever world title? The 2017 World Champion will be crowned in Hawaii as the Billabong Pipe Masters is set to start today at the Banzai Pipeline.
The world’s best surfers have arrived in Hawaii for the Billabong Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons, the final stop on the 2017 World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT).
The event holds a competitive window that opens today Friday, December 8 and runs through Wednesday, December 20, 2017.
The event will also decide the 2017 WSL Champion, which represents the culmination of a year-long battle amongst the world’s best surfers to claim the sport’s highest honor and join a list of the most revered individuals in all of surfing.
Going into the Billabong Pipe Masters, four surfers remain in contention to clinch the title: reigning WSL Champion John John Florence (HAW) who leads the rankings, Gabriel Medina (BRA), Jordy Smith (ZAF) and Julian Wilson (AUS). Florence will win his second WSL Title if he makes the final at Pipeline.
World Title Scenarios going into the Billabong Pipe Masters:
– If Florence gets 1st or 2nd at Pipe he will clinch the World Title;
– If Florence gets a 3rd, Medina will need a1st at Pipe to win the World Title;
– If Florence gets a 5th, Medina will need a1st at Pipe to win the World Title;
– If Florence gets a 9th, Medina will need a 2nd, Smith a 1st;
– If Florence, gets a 13th or 25th, Medina will need a 5th, Smith a 2nd and Wilson a 1st.
2016 WSL Champion Florence comes into the event wearing the coveted Jeep Leader Jersey and is ready to defend his World Title at the Billabong Pipe Masters.
The 25-year-old sits only 3,100 points ahead of 2014 WSL Champion Medina and will look to get a strong start at the last event of the season. All eyes will be on Florence as he hunts down a Final berth to clinch the World Title and carve out his place in surfing history.
Jordy Smith sits in third place on the Jeep Leaderboard after an incredible season that saw him wear the Jeep Leader Jersey for much of 2017 thanks to a win in Bells Beach and a runner-up finish at Trestles.
The two-time CT runner-up (2010 and 2016) is on the hunt for his maiden WSL Title and will be looking to bounce back from two 13th place finishes and score a big result in Hawaii.
“As far as the title race goes, I really just have to focus on myself, put my head down and give it my best shot,” said Smith. “There’s a lot that has to go down between the other guys, but if they step up, I’m definitely going to put my head down and give it a go.
Pipe’s one of those waves where you really have to spend a lot of time out here, obviously I’ve grown up on right-hand points and this is a left-hand slab so it’s a little different than my comfort zone, but these are the type of things you gain with experience,” said Smith.
Billabong Pipe Masters Round 1 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Jeremy Flores (FRA), Jadson Andre (BRA)
Heat 2: Owen Wright (AUS), Kanoa Igarashi (USA), Josh Kerr (AUS)
Heat 3: Julian Wilson (AUS), Conner Coffin (USA), Stuart Kennedy (AUS)
Heat 4: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Bede Durbidge (AUS), Ethan Ewing (AUS)
Heat 5: Gabriel Medina (BRA), Miguel Pupo (BRA), TBD
Heat 6: John John Florence (HAW), Wiggolly Dantas (BRA), TBD
Heat 7: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Caio Ibelli (BRA), Jack Freestone (AUS)
Heat 8: Kolohe Andino (USA), Joan Duru (FRA), Kelly Slater (USA)
Heat 9: Filipe Toledo (BRA), Michel Bourez (PYF), Ezekiel Lau (HAW)
Heat 10: Sebastian Zietz (HAW), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Ian Gouveia (BRA)
Heat 11: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Connor O’Leary (AUS), Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA)
Heat 12: Mick Fanning (AUS), Frederico Morais (PRT), Italo Ferreira (BRA)