Bustin’ down the door in 2019!
The big story last week was obviously Jack Robinson cementing his name as one of the best Pipe surfers in the world, but a secondary narrative that’s been given a lot less attention is just how many Aussies headed over to take part in the Volcom Pipe Pro.
Upwards of 15 Australians competed, and although none of them enjoyed the same success as Jack, there were still some gutsy efforts considering the majority of guys went over with bugger-all experience and little sponsorship dollars behind them.
At an event that’s usually comprised of North Shore heavyweights, local and international Pipe specialists, and the lucky few on Volcom’s books, it was impressive to see such a solid contingent of surfers from Down Under show up and say: ‘Fuck it, I’m having a go!’
Reef Heazlewood was the best of the underdogs, with the talented Sunny Coast goofy making good on his promise to use his lost sponsorship as motivation to up his game.
Sans a sticker on his nose, the 19-year-old surfed Pipe like he’d been doing it his whole life, packing deep barrels and then coming out and going huge off the end section with an aerial approach that’s fast gaining a reputation as one of the wildest in the game.
‘I’m still a bit in disbelief,’ Reef said when asked about the result a few days later. ‘It’s been one of my dreams to make a final out at Pipe and now I’ve accomplished it, I can aim higher to win it and win the Pipe Masters, too.’
It’s a big claim from the young man, but it’s also exactly the kind of self-belief we need from our surfers right now if they’re to stand a chance against the likes of Medina, Toledo, Italo and John.
Speaking of self-belief, how’s the form of Illawarra Surf Academy coach and occasional QS warrior, Nic Squires, who at the ripe old age of 35, came up just short of the quarters in his very first time competing at Pipe.
‘So privileged to get some waves out at Pipe and Backdoor. Even more stoked to come out of a few,’ he wrote on Facebook. ‘Not bad for an old fella.’
Not bad at all.
Around him too were a whole lot more Aussies having a dig. CT graduate and former winner Soli Bailey made the quarters, fellow Byron-ite Kyuss King made Round 5, Jacob Wilcox, Mitch Coleborn and Liam O’Brien got to Round 4, and although those who bowed out before them probably didn’t do as well as they would’ve liked, the fact they were there is a good sign in itself.
Australian surfing has a long and proud legacy at the world’s most infamous wave, and for that to continue, it’s just as important for the likes of lesser-known surfers like Chris Zaffis and Sandon Whittaker to show up and push each other as it is for high-profile freaks like Jack to win.
According to Reef, the camaraderie among the Aussies during the contest was one of the highlights of the event.
‘The vibe was so sick,’ he said. ‘All the boys were frothing and cheering. It’s really nice to see all the support from my fellow Aussies and it definitely helped push me watching them charge and have fun out there too.’
Hopefully next year we see even more Aussies make the trek over for the Volcom Pipe Pro. Hopefully we see a few of them step up and make a name for themselves if Jack falters.
Not that that’s likely to happen.
‘He’s a freak,’ claims Reef. ‘He is seriously one of the best in the world out there.’
He doesn’t have to be the only one.