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Familiar Faces and Newcomers Light Up Opening Day of HIC Pipe Pro QS 1,000

  • North Shore’s Own MaiKai Burdine, Kalani David Deliver Impressive Performances
  • Women’s Competition Called OFF for the Day
Front page image:19-year-old Kainehe Hunt (HAW) showcasing his forehand to seal a big Round of 96 heat win. Credit: © WSL /  Keoki

BANZAI PIPELINE, Oahu/Hawaii (Wednesday, December 15, 2021) – A long-awaited opening day at the World Surf League (WSL) HIC Pipe Pro, a Qualifying Series (QS) 1,000-level event, got underway in solid, three-to-five foot, building swell that provided plenty of scoring opportunity and electric performances at the ‘Gums’ sandbar. The day concluded with men’s Round of 96 action completed in its entirety with familiar faces and emerging talent making their way through to the Round of 64 where top-seeded competitors await. Women’s competition was called off for the day with a possible start tomorrow, December 16.

North Shore’s Own Light Up Opening Affairs

Pictured: A dream heat win for MaiKai Burdine (HAW) saw him overtake two of surfing’s most well-known competitors. Credit: © WSL /  Keoki

A star-studded heat featuring former Pipe Master and North Shore’s own Jamie O’Brien, recent TUDOR Nazare Tow Challenge winner Kai Lenny (HAW), Pipeline standout Luke Shepardson (HAW), and newcomer MaiKai Burdine (HAW) unfolded with Lenny taking control early in the battle. But, a steady performance from Burdine had O’Brien and Shepardson both looking for scores to overtake runner-up before Burdine stole the heat win at the buzzer with Lenny advancing.

“That was so insane, I’m still so nervous right – I’m shaking,” said Burdine. “I was stoked to get the buzzer-beater and take out Jamie (O’Brien) and Kai (Lenny). It’s big to have contests back again and hopefully keep making a couple more heats.”

Kalani David (HAW) reminded spectators and all those involved with the event of his explosive tendencies in the water and put them on full display for his Round of 96 debut, garnering a 13.67 (out of a possible 20) heat total. David’s variety of major maneuvers and progression in the air earned him (a round’s best) 7.50 (out of a possible 10) to make his presence known.

“I was definitely super nervous, it’s been a while since I’ve been in the jersey so I just wanted to get the first wave out of the wave,” said David. “This is all I’ve ever wanted to do is get back in the jersey again and to have another event is super refreshing. If I do really good here, I can get on the Challenger Series but I don’t want to get ahead of myself and just give it 100 percent.”

Pictured: Nathan Florence’s (HAW) prowess in big waves was rivaled by his ability to throw down big turns. Credit: © WSL /  Keoki

One of the North Shore’s own Nathan Florence last stepped into a jersey nearly two years ago at this event and experienced an early exit at the hands of Yago Dora (BRA), and returns with his goals set. While the 27-year-old awaits the return of WSL Big Wave competition, he began his march toward latter rounds with a Round of 96 victory to start things off on a positive note following his brother’s, 2X WSL Champion John John, inspiring win at Haleiwa.

“It’s been a long time since I competed and it was pretty nerve-racking, but we rarely get to surf this little peak over here the way it is,” said Florence. “Usually it’s real north and Backdoor is ripped up, it’s not barreling the way it usually is (at Pipe) which I prefer it that way, but it’s good to get the grind on. I think this event is great for all the locals to have a chance at getting onto the Challenger Series, I don’t have Championship Tour goals, but a lot of these guys do and it’s great to see this opportunity.”

Also into the Round of 64, fellow Florence sibling Ivan, 25, joins his brothers when competition resumes after advancing behind Kai Martin (HAW).

Shayden Pacarro (HAW) delivered a brilliant 7.33 in Heat 14 as fellow Hawaii competitors  Kai PaulaDylan FranzmannAlex SmithLuke TemaChris Foster, all advanced into the Round 64 with decisive Round of 96 heat wins to start building momentum before taking on the event’s top-seeded competitors when competition gets back underway.

“In that two years (break) I had a baby and surfing as much as I can, and I was extremely nervous going into that heat,” said Pacarro. “I definitely have a goal to get to the Challenger Series. It would be amazing to travel with my family, to me that would be the ultimate experience.”Newcomers Make Their Mark on Opening Day

Pictured: Levi Young (HAW) notched another win to continue the youth’s surge on opening day. Credit: © WSL /  Keoki

The day had its share of surprise eliminations as up-and-coming talents such as Levi Young (HAW) stormed through the Round of 96. Young’s forehand attack kept pace with one of his idols Eli Olson (HAW) and ultimately helped eliminate the North Shore standout, joined by fellow newcomer Rylan Beavers (HAW).

“(It) was a good break to get better and so stoked to be back,” said Young. “I’m sure it would have been different if it was 10-foot and barreling, (Eli Olson’s) such an insane surfer and I’ve always looked up to those guys my whole life. Just to get in a heat with them is awesome, I’m only 17 and I’ve watched them surf this wave so I’m just excited to get this opportunity.”

The youth continued to perform as Kainehe Hunt (HAW), 19, surged over former Championship Tour (CT) competitor Dusty Payne (HAW), also advancing, as Haleiwa standout Shion Crawford (HAW), Shiloh Tennberg (HAW), Kaiser Auberlen (DEU), and Diesel Storm Butts (HAW) made their way into the Round 64 with heat wins as next generation competitors.

Event organizers will reconvene to make a 7:00 a.m. HST call for a probable 8:00 a.m. HST start.

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The 2021 HIC Pipe Pro QS 1,000 will run December 8 – 20 at Banzai Pipeline, Oahu, Hawaii.

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