Jeremy Flores wins the 2017 Pipe Masters in Hawaii !
Photo: WSL | Heft/Poullenot
Jeremy Flores nabbed his second Pipe Masters crown from the John John Florence’s hands with 22 seconds left to go
Congratulations to Jeremy Flores (29), who won the 2017 (and 2010) Pipeline Masters last night in Hawaii. The French surfer from Reunion Island took out friend and teammate Kanoa Igarashi as well as world title hopeful Gabriel Medina en route to the Final against the new WSL Champion, John John Florence. “ Jez” rounds out the year at 15th place on the Jeep Leaderboard to solidify his place on the 2018 CT. The victory at Pipe also marks his best result of the season and his first CT win since Tahiti in 2015.
“Winning the Pipe Masters against John John Florence like that in perfect Backdoor in the last seconds, that’s the best way to win,” Flores said. “I couldn’t think of any better way to win this Pipe Master. I’m so, so stoked and there’s a lot of emotions. Congrats to everyone. Congrats to John John and Gabriel, these guys are next level. My goal was to win this event but this is crazy, I’m so happy.
Incepted in 1971, the Pipe Master still counts as the most prestigious event in surfing and marks the annual final of the WSL World Tour of Surfing. The mythical Banzai Pipeline makes and breaks surfers dreams since the early days, offering the barrel of their lives to a few lucky ones while taking its toll on many. Winning the Pipe Masters once is a competitive surfers dream…to win it twice is legendary.
“To be honest, I don’t like to be that guy that’s deciding titles – it should be a showdown between John and Gabriel, these guys work so hard,” Flores continued. “That’s why honestly when I beat Gabriel I felt bad. It’s been an emotional day and yesterday was stressful. I had to make one heat to re-qualify pretty much and I made it with a 4 and a 2. I just wanted to have fun today and I did and the waves showed up. Through all the ups and downs I have so much good support and this is for everyone so thank you. I won this title for France and it doesn’t happen very much!”
After a slow start to the Final, JJF found the highest score in the heat with just over twenty minutes remaining, a long barrel that got himself an 8.93. Jeremy answered with a 7.90 but a relaxed looking world champ was right behind him with a clean tube ride of his own for 7.23 and a solid heat lead. Jes was left searching for an 8.27 in order to claim his second Pipe Masters, but with limited opportunities, the clock ran down. In the final seconds, our boy found an opportunity and the crowd waited anxiously for the result. The score came in and the Quiksilver house lit up, as did Jeremy – your 2017 Pipeline Master!
Jeremy’s victory wasn’t the only reason to pop some champagne at the Quik House – yesterday the WSL announced Aussie Connor O’Leary Rookie of the Year 2017.
In a generation of six-figure contracts and huge amounts of hype, the 24-year old from Cronulla has been an underdog for most of his career. As a matter of fact, up until a few years ago, he was teaching surf lessons just to fund a Qualifying Series campaign. And, somehow, that gamble paid off — he shook the world and won the QS in 2016.
Nobody really knew what to expect from Connor during his first season on Tour, but he wasted no time in making his intentions damn clear. He stormed to the Quarters in his first-ever CT event, the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast, and even made a Final a few events later in Fiji.
“Becoming Rookie of the Year is a big deal for me. You only get one shot at that, and I feel like this year has more talented rookies than ever. To stand out amongst these guys is a massive confidence booster.”
On top of that, Huntington Beach local and fellow Quiksilver rider Kanoa Igarashi showed a standup performance at Pipe, making it to the podium on a more than well-deserved 3e place.