Early in the morning on December 8th, the Pipe Trials sounded the starting horn. The waves weren’t perfect, but there were waves. The imperfection, in fact, lent a certain entertainment value that kept eyes glued on the water. This year, Dusty Payne proved he’s not going to be forgotten about with a win over Benji Brand, Seth Moniz, and 2015 Pipe Invitational champ, Jack Robinson.
The Pipe Invitational is one of those events that can be more exciting than the event it leads up to. Quite often, surfers who aren’t going to be in the main event put on a show that fans wait all year for. Pipeline legends like Jamie O’Brien and Bruce Irons paddle out with new faces like current Triple Crown leader Griffin Colapinto and North Shore favorites Mason Ho and Barron Mamiya in hopes of earning a wildcard spot in the Billabong Pipe Masters.
Payne, who is still on the mend after back surgery, was understandably thrilled after his win. “I’m excited to be in the Pipe Masters, for every surf kid who grows up in Hawaii it’s a dream event,” said Payne. “It’s a blessing to be here, it was a fun day and I’m super grateful the WSL gave us this opportunity.”
At the sound of the horn, conditions were in the 6-8 foot range, and all over the lineup. While strange bombs poked up from Insanities all the way to Gums, Pipe and Backdoor remained relatively consistent until the wind picked up in the early afternoon. “As the conditions transitioned into more beach break-like conditions,” the WSL wrote, “the younger crew was able to adapt more quickly while the traditional favorites begin to fall to the wayside.”
Saturday has been called a lay day for the Pipe Masters, but the forecast is looking solid. Keep an eye on it at Worldsurfleague.com