|Italo Ferreira (BRA) took his act to the air in Heat 3 and landed a massive forehand rotation for a last-minute win over Joan Duru (FRA) and Keanu Asing (HAW). Ferreira, the current World No. 4, has been a standout at Pipeline lately with inspiring performances, both in massive barrels and air sections. With three event wins under his belt this season (Bells Beach, Bali, Portugal), Ferreira made a clear run for the World Title but his inconsistency cost him the opportunity to fight with compatriots Medina and Toledo for the top spot.
“I’ve been having a good time here in Hawaii,” Ferreira said. “Conditions are tough. It’s difficult to surf with this strong wind, but it also makes for good ramps, so I was excited. I fell on a few waves but thankfully in the last few minutes I managed to do two good airs so I was happy with that.”
The machine-like waves that have made Pipeline so famous finally started to turn on for Heat 9 and an entertaining battle between Michel Bourez (PYF), Ezekiel Lau (HAW) and Ian Gouveia (BRA) ensued. The Hawaiian held a firm grip on the lead all the way into the last two minutes of action, but Gouveia – sitting with priority – found himself in position for one of the best waves of the day. Gouveia took a late drop and squared off the bottom turn to pull in, claiming an excellent 8.17 (out of a possible 10) to steal the lead from Lau. But in the dying moments, Bourez found a left-hand barrel of his own and rode it successfully to add a 5.93 to his scoreline and ultimately claim the heat win.
“I heard Ian (Gouveia) got an 8-something on this last one and I saw the wave, he looked really, really good,” Bourez said. “I made a mistake just before and I could have been on that one, but at the end of the day it worked out well and I got the score at the end. Every spot on tour is super important, but this one is the last one, it’s your last chance, so you give yourself like two-hundred percent to make it.”
In the following heat, defending event winner Jeremy Flores (FRA) took on Conner Coffin (USA) and rookie Jesse Mendes (BRA) as waves continued to pump. Coffin and Flores found exciting barrels both on the rights and lefts and put up a brilliant fight on back-to-back waves with the heat eventually going the Californian’s way after he found a clean, deep backhand tube for an 8.47 and the win.
“Any heat win on the world tour is a big feat these days, everyone is so good,” Coffin said. “Jeremy won here last year and he’s definitely one of the best guys on tour as far as barrels are concerned. I knew it was going to be a good battle and it’s fun that waves turned on and I’m stoked to get the win.”